2 French and 2 Swiss Warmblood Horse Breed Comparisons | Which horses are Better?

Have you ever wondered if French and Swiss warmblooded horse breeds are comparable? Maybe you’ve questioned which of these horses are better. Whatever the case, no need to look any further; this article is written especially for you!

In this write-up, we provide an in-depth comparison of 2 French and 2 Swiss Warm Blooded Horse Breeds. 

So read on to learn more about the main characteristics, origin, height, color, physique, and other relevant information about each of these iconic horse breeds. 

Table of Contents (Horspedia)

French Saddle Warmblood Horse Breed (Selle Francias) | Anglo-Norman Horse Breed

  • Origin: France.
  • Height: 15.2-16.3hh.
  • Color: Usually chestnut or bay, but can be any color.
  • Character: Brave, calm, good-tempered. 

Physique: Strong saddle horse of hunter type. Headboard with wide-set eyes, tapering to a comparatively narrow muzzle. Ears long and alert.

Long strong neck well set into powerful, sloping shoulders. Good, roomy chest and deep girth. Back fairly long and well-ribbed-up. Muscular hindquarters. Legs long, with excellent bone and hocks, well let down.

Types of Norman Horse Breed

It would be wrong to suggest that the Norman, the Anglo-Norman, and the French Saddle Horse are one and the same. They are included under one heading because they are all developments on the same theme, with no precisely-defined point marking a transition from one sort to another. 

To confuse the issue, there are two very different types of horse, both bearing the name Norman, one a lightweight saddle horse and the other a cob so strong and stocky horse that it would be more appropriately listed under the heading of “Cold-Blood”

To dispense with the Norman Cob, it is a muscular draught animal of good conformation, standing about 16hh; an active horse with a free, high action, a good disposition, and lots of stamina. 

Hereinafter the name Norman should be taken to apply to the saddle type, except where otherwise specified.

Origin of the French Saddle Warmblood Horse Breed

As long as 1,000 years ago, there appears to have existed in France a good, solid, spirited animal of the heavy draught type called the Norman horse. 

William the Conqueror is said to have brought it to England as a war-horse. Quite possibly this was the famous Great Horse from which the British heavy draught breeds are descended. 

The physique of the French Saddle Horse (Selle Francias), Anglo-Norman
Physique of the French Saddle Horse (Selle Francias), Anglo Norman

Its decline through the Middle Ages, especially during the time when maneuverability took precedence over heavy armor and the draught breeds lost their value as military mounts, is obscure, but during the 16th and 17th centuries, the Norman horse emerged again as a useful, rather common, working animal.

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Popularity of the French Saddle Warmblood Horse Breed

In the 17th century, importations of German and Scandinavian stallions also Arabs and Barbs to a lesser extent, were apparently bred onto the Norman mares to produce a riding type of great stamina. 

While 18th – and 19th – century additions of English blood in the form of the Thoroughbred, the Norfolk Trotter, and hunter types led to the formation of the Anglo-Norman; which, judging by appearances, is at least half Thoroughbred.

Original Intention for Interbreeding the French Saddle Warmblood Horse Breed

The original intention behind all this interbreeding seems to have been producing a quality coach horse, and when motorization threatened the coach horse breeders the focus pivoted to the cavalry remount market. 

The split seems to have occurred between the Anglo-Norman saddle horse and the French Trotter at about this time. Selectively bred for the saddle, and improved by top-quality Thoroughbred stallions, the Anglo-Norman has in recent times proved itself an excellent cross-country horse.

It is still popular as a cavalry horse, selling annually to the Swiss army; but its most spectacular modern successes are in the worlds of three-day-eventing and showjumping.

Recent improvements, dating from 1965, give the Anglo-Norman a new name: the French Saddle Horse. The studbook of the new French Saddlebred is a continuation of the former Anglo-Norman studbook.

French Trotter | Superb Warmblood Horse Breed from France

  • Origin: France. 
  • Height: About 16.2hh.
  • Color: Black, bay, brown, chestnut, gray, roan. 
  • Character: Tough, willing, competitive.
  • Physique: Tall, lightweight horse of good conformation. Neat, alert head; strong shoulder, inclined to be straight; deep chest, prominent withers Well-coupled body with strong, straight back, and muscular, sloping hindquarters.
Physique of the French Trotter horse
French Trotter Warmblood horse physique

Legs long and very hard, with rather short cannon bones and hocks, well let down.

Origin of the French Trotter warmblood horse breed

The French Trotter, also known as the Demi-Sang Trotter, is an offshoot of the Anglo-Norman breed (see French Saddle Horse, above). Trotting races were first held in France in 1836, at Cherbourg, apparently initially for the purpose of choosing the best animals for stud. 

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However, trotting soon became a popular sport, and by the middle of the 19th century, it was widespread throughout much of Europe and the United States. Horses were raced in tandem as well as singly.

Selective breeding through the early part of the 20th century, in which the stallions Young Rattler, Normand, Lavater, and Fuchsia were particularly prominent, led to the opening of a Stud Book in 1922.

Anglo-Norman horses who could trot 1 kilometer in 1 minute 42 seconds or less, and had proved this ability in a public race, were eligible for the new book. 

History of the French Trotter  Warmblood Horse Breed

In 1941 the Stud Book was closed to all horses not born of previously-registered parents, and since then the breed of the French Trotter has remained pure.

The French Trotter horse is a bigger breed than is usual in a trotting horse. This is because some of the French trotting races are run under the saddle instead of in the shafts, and the French horse must be capable of carrying weights of up to 160lb over quite long distances.

Five thousand (5000) to six thousand (6000) trotting races are nowadays held annually in France. The biggest race is the Prix d’Amérique at Vincennes, which is a contest of the international class.

Freiberger Saddle Warmblood Horse Breed | Characteristics and Specifics

  • Origin: Switzerland.
  • Height: Usually 15.2-16.1hh.
  • Color: Any solid color. Gray and blue roan commonest.
  • Character: Alert, intelligent, willing, docile, and enduring; an excellent saddle horse temperament. 

Physique: Medium-sized head showing definite Arab characteristics – large, liquid eye, open nostrils, short, prick ears – carried nobly on crested neck set on good shoulders. Deep girth, well-sprung ribs, short back with good loins and quarters.

Clean legs with good bone and short pasterns. Hard, well-shaped feet. A strong, compact riding horse; active, and showing stamina and endurance.


An elegant new breed of saddle horse, the Freiberger, has been developed at Avenches. It is based on the old Freiberger cold-blood, also called the Franches-Montagnes.

See also  German Warmblood Performance Horses

The Freiberger was widely used for agricultural work in Switzerland before mechanization reduced the demand for it, but its elegant appearance indicates that as much as 90% of its parentage is attributable to lightweight warm-bloods. 

A dominant strain in its ancestry, clearly to be seen in its attractive head, is the Shagya Arabian of Bábolna.

Einsiedler Horse Breed | Swiss Warmblood Horse Character and Origin

  • Origin: Switzerland.
  • Height: Roughly 15.3-16.2hh. 
  • Color: Any solid color. Bay and chestnut are the most common.
  • Character: A bold, active horse, intelligent and tractable, and of good disposition. Very versatile. 
  • Physique: Strongly-built lightweight of the Anglo-Norman type. Generally good conformation, with powerful shoulders and hindquarters. Action-free and straight.

Popularity of the Einsiedler Horse Breed 

Because of its versatility, the Einsiedler is in popular demand with the Swiss cavalry, as is its close relation, the Anglo-Norman (the Einsiedler is sometimes known as the Swiss Anglo-Norman). 

Warmblood Einsiedler Horse breed physique
Warmblood Einsiedler Horse breed physique

It is at once a good jumper, often capable of competing at the international level, an adept dressage mount and all-around saddle animal, an outstanding trotter, and a good harness and light agricultural horse.

History of the Einsiedler horse breed

The horse is named for the Benedictine abbey of Einsiedeln, where records of a stud trace back to 1064. Einsiedels appear regularly throughout Swiss history, though the breed has fluctuated in type. 

The modern Einsiedler stems to some extent from imported Hackney horses, but its main influence of change has been the Anglo-Norman.

To give a brief, humans bred horses for speed, strength, endurance, size, good nature, hardiness, beauty, and athletic ability through selection, inbreeding, and outcrossing.

There are over 300 horse breeds in the world today, including French and Swiss horse breeds, with each breed being uniquely adapted to the purpose for which it was created. As a result, all horses are comparable!