The French Saddle Pony, or ‘Poney Français de Selle’ as it is traditionally known, stands as a testament to equine breeding excellence, specifically engineered to meet the athletic demands of junior and smaller adult riders. This breed, with its inherent aptitude for equestrian sports, excels notably in disciplines like jumping and fast-paced riding. Distinguished by their steady composure and agility, these ponies adeptly ensure rider safety and comfort, even at higher velocities.
The French Saddle Pony (‘Pony Francais de Selle’) can be seen as the culmination of decades of careful breeding and cultural heritage preservation within France’s equestrian traditions. This breed’s development was marked by careful crossbreeding efforts as well as strategic decisions made by experts that sought to create a versatile yet sturdy saddle pony breed. Let’s examine some key milestones and decisions which shaped its unique breed:
Early Crossbreeding Efforts
Foundation Breeds: Our journey started by breeding local French pony mares with several influential breeds like Arabian horses, Connemara ponies and Welsh stallions, each providing its own special qualities such as endurance, agility and strength.
Diverse Genetic Pool: As breeding progressed, other larger native equine breeds were gradually introduced. This widening of genetic diversity was intended to strengthen and refine their physical attributes and make them better suitable for saddle riding.
Formation of Association French of Croisement Poney
Year 1969: 1969 marked a landmark development when the French Association for Crossbred Ponies was created, providing crucial guidance and oversight in managing its breeding program.
Vision and Aim: Our primary goal was to enhance existing native breeds into versatile saddle ponies capable of supporting a range of equestrian activities.
Establishing the Breed 1972
1972 – Stud Book Creation: The establishment of a stud book in 1972 was a landmark achievement. It formalized the recognition of this new breed, outlining its characteristics and breeding standards.
Focus on Breed Purity: Over the years, breeders emphasized maintaining the purity and distinctiveness of the breed. This led to a strategic shift in breeding practices.
Solidifying Breed Identity
1991: Registry Closing: To protect the breed’s identity and ensure stability in characteristics for future generations, the association closed the registry to outside bloodlines in 1991, marking an end to its foundational development phase.
Renaming to “Poney Francais de Selle”: To reflect both their national origin and specialization as saddle ponies, the breed was rechristened the “Pony Francais de Selle”. This name better conveyed their nature.
The French Saddle Pony stands between 12.2 and 14.2 hands (about 50 to 58 inches at the shoulder). Its elegant yet well-proportioned build – featuring refined head, strong neck, compact body with well-muscled hindquarters – are hallmarks of quality in any breed. Furthermore, their coat comes in bay-coloured chestnut grey coats adorned with unique markings.
Temperament and Behavior:
One of the hallmarks of French Saddle Ponies is their gentle temperament. These ponies are beloved companions, making them great choices for young or inexperienced riders. Additionally, these horses tend to learn quickly – often excelling at training programs while adapting well to various environments and riding styles.
Performance and Use:
The French Saddle Pony is an adaptable performer, excelling at show jumping, dressage, eventing, driving and driving competitions. Their agility and speed make them particularly suited for competitive jumping events where they frequently outperform larger horses.
In dressage they are renowned for their graceful movements and responsiveness to subtle cues from trainers; additionally recreational riders find them suitable as therapeutic riding programs due to their calm demeanor.
Breeding and Conservation:
Breeding French Saddle Ponies is closely controlled to preserve its unique qualities and traits. Breeders concentrate on producing physically appealing but sound-in-health and temperament horses to keep the breed’s characteristics alive in France as well as among international breeders to preserve this rare species while encouraging its use across various equestrian disciplines.
The French Saddle Pony occupies a special place in French equestrian culture. It embodies France’s commitment to developing breeds with both beauty and function in mind, making this breed celebrated at numerous equestrian events throughout France that showcase both French horsemanship’s elegance and skill.