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11 Stunning French Horse Breeds

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Do you love horses? Do you love France? If you love horses, and France, I bet you’ll love horses from France. There are over 26 major extant horse breeds from France. In the article, we will list some of our favorite horse breeds that originated from France and also give a list of other minor French horse breeds.

two french saddle horses grazing in the field

1. French Trotter

French Trotter horse against a backdrop of trees within a grassland

The French Trotter is a trotting horse breed that was bred for racing. This breed of horse originates from the now extinct Carrossier Normand. Breeds that have influenced the modern French trotter are hackney, American Standardbred, Thoroughbred, and Norfolk trotter.

French Trotters can stand at a wither height of 154-167 cm. This breed of horse can have solid dark colors like brown and black. Today, French Trotters are used for racing, riding, show-jumping, etc.

2. Percheron

portrait of a brown stallion percheron with beautiful mane walking on autumn land

The Percheron is a draft breed that originated from Western France. Though the history of this breed is not known, many theories suggest that it was bred from breeds used in wars.

The Boulonnais breed and other oriental horse breeds are believed to have influenced the Percheron breed.

Percherons are mostly bred to be uniformly grey or black. Other minor colors of this breed are chestnut, bay, and roan.

In France, this breed works on the farm and pulls heavy carriages to the city. It is also used for meat production.

3. Selle Français

brown selle francais horse wandering alone in the woods

Selle Français is a French breed of horse that is mostly used for sports. This breed, though originating from France, is found worldwide.

The Selle Français was made by breeding native French breeds and Thoroughbred or Norfolk Trotters.

The Selle Français breed stands at a height of 155-180 cm. This breed is mostly bay or chestnut in color. It is possible (but not common) to see grey Selle Français horses.

Horses of this breed usually have white markings on their lower legs. The Selle Français is a sport horse used for show-jumping, horse racing, and other sports.

4. Boulonnais Horse

Boulonnais  horses walking

Also known as the white marble horse, the Boulonnais horse breed is a draft breed.

The Boulonnais existed before the 17th century, and since then, it has been influenced by breeds such as the Spanish barb, Andalusian, and Arabian breeds.

The Boulonnais breed was imported to the USA in the early 90s. This breed has several sub-breeds.

The Boulonnais breed stands at a height of 150-170 cm and has colors such as chestnut, grey, and black.

Uses of this breed include transportation of agricultural products, stones, or weapons. Today, the Boulonnais breed is used for several jobs in the farm and production of meat.

5. Camargue Horse

Wild Camargue Horse grazing against blue sky

This horse breed is believed to be one of the oldest horse breeds in the world today. Some studies suggest that this breed was derived from the ancient Solutré horse (now extinct).

Most Camargue horses in France today are purebloods because of strict rules governing the breeding of this horse.

Camargue Horses are grey in color. They have black skin (under their fur) and a white fur (above the skin). Camargue horses are small horses standing at a height of 135-150 cm.

Though this breed is mostly found in the wild, it is also used by people. It is used in cattle management, long-distance riding, games, etc.

6. Auxois

If you love large horses, you will surely love this breed. The Auxois breed is a large breed that originates from Eastern France.

This breed is a descendant of the extinct Bourguignon horse. The name of this breed, Auxois, was gotten from a valley called “Rich Valley of Auxois.” It was in that valley that the Auxois breed was made.

The Auxois breed can have colors such as bay, bay roan, red roan, or chestnut.

This large breed stands at a height of 163-172 cm. Today, this breed is used for agricultural purposes, meat production, and some leisure activities.

7. Ardennais (Ardennes)

Beautiful Ardennes horses roaming field in France

This is one of the oldest draft breeds. Besides France, the Ardennais breed is commonly found in Luxembourg and Belgium.

This breed was first imported into the United States in the early 20th century. Just like the Camargue horse, the Ardennais horse is a direct descendant of the Solutré horse.

Ardennais horses can stand at a height of 156cm. Colors of this breed include bay, gray, chestnut, roan, or palomino.

In the past, this breed was used as a war horse, but now, it is mainly bred for meat production. Ardennais horses are easy to feed, so farmers love them.

8. Trait du Nord

The trait du nord breed was previously called Ardennais de type Nord or Ardennais du Nord. This breed, just like most French breeds, is a draft breed.

This breed was developed in Northeastern France and Western Belgium from ancestors that lived in the Northern river valleys of the Scheldt and the Sambre. This breed is muscular and powerful.

The most common colors of this horse are roan and chestnut. Other colors of the Trait du nord breed are black, brown, and gray.

The Trait du nord stands at a height of 165cm. Today, it is used in agriculture, logging, or meat production. It is also used for recreational purposes.

9. Breton Horse

Trait Breton horses in a field near the coast in Brittany

The Breton horse is a draft breed that was developed in the Brittany province of Northwest France. Ancestors of the Breton horse breed have European and Oriental blood. This breed of horse is very strong and agile.

Breton horses can be classified into three categories:

  • Corlay Breton: This is the smallest type and is used for easier jobs.
  • Postier Breton: This medium type is used for light farm work and harness.
  • Heavy Draft Breton: This is the largest type and is used for difficult draft works.

The height of Breton horses ranges from 155 to 163 cm. Bretons can come in chestnut, bay, blue roan, gray, red roan, etc.

This breed of horse is mostly used for agricultural purposes. The smaller horses are given light draft work while the larger ones perform heavier tasks.

10. Poitevin Horse

This horse breed is named after the place from which it was developed from, the province of Poitou in Western (west-central) France. This horse breed is endangered.

As of 2011, there were just 300 breeding horses (40 stallions). The Poitevin horse breed was developed by crossbreeding various horses imported into Poitou from the 15th to 17th centuries.

With a height of 160-165cm, Poitevin horses can be used as draft horses, but they were not bred for that purpose.

This horse breed is ridden, used for sports such as racing, various other competitions. Colors of this breed include black, seal brown, bay roan, chestnut, etc.

11. Anglo-Norman Horse

The Anglo-Norman horse is a warmblood breed that was developed in Northern France.

The Anglo-Norman Horse was influenced by Russian and British trotting horses. This breed has influenced the development of many European and Oriental horses.

Some horse breeds that the Anglo-Norman horse influenced are:

  • Chinese Heihe
  • Polish Sokolsky
  • Swiss Freiberger
  • Greek Andravida
  • Hungarian Nonius
  • German Oldenburg

The Anglo-Norman horse can be 150-170 cm tall. In the past, it was used as an artillery horse, but now, it is used for harness racing, show-jumping, etc.

Do you love any of the breeds listed above? Let us list some other breeds from France

Other French Horse Breeds

Comtois horse in the meadow

Do you know any of the breeds listed below?

  • Bidets
  • Angevin
  • Cob Normand
  • Nivernais Horse
  • Vendéen
  • Charolais
  • Merens Horse
  • Comtois Horse
  • Augeron
  • Baudet du Poitou
  • Mareyeur
  • Demi-sang du Centre
  • Dombes horse
  • Limousin horse
  • Morvan horse
  • Navarrin horse
  • Berrichon
  • Bourbonnais
  • Bourbourien
  • Bourguignon
  • Bresse horse
  • Petit Boulonnais
  • Postier Breton
  • Tarbésan
  • Carrossier Normand
  • Cauchoix
  • Centre-montagne
  • Charentais
  • Cotentin horse

Final Thoughts

Most French horse breeds are used for draft and sports. In the past, they were used for war. Because France developed so many horse breeds, it doesn’t matter the kind of horse you love, there’s always a French horse breed for you.