Breeding Franches-Montagnes Horses

Noble, docile, supple and robust: these are just some of the qualities attributed to the last Swiss breed of horses, known colloquially as "Franches-Montagnes". The tradition of rearing horses in this region stretches back far into the past. From the 17th century, the court of the Prince-Bishop of Basel prized the unparalleled beauty and strength of the horses from Jura, which gave rise to the Franches-Montagnes after several stages of crossbreeding. The various Jura types were called cheval du Jura or cheval des Franches-Montagnes from the 19th century onwards. This relatively lightweight workhorse for agricultural and military use is medium-sized and good-natured with a solid bone structure. Its breeding became organised at the end of the 19th century, especially under federal government control. Breeders began to set up unions, and at the same time the stallion Vaillant served at the Jura stud farm, becoming a founding father of the breed in its current form. A street in Saignelégier still bears his name, which is quite a rare achievement for a horse! Breeding gathered pace in the 20th century, helped by various events and institutions, the most emblematic of which remains the Marché-Concours national de chevaux (National Horse Fair) in Saignelégier. The modern Franches-Montagnes is a versatile horse with an international reputation and ideal qualities for tourist, leisure and sports uses.

Detailed description


Performing arts
Social practices
Traditional craftsmanship



Jean-Pierre Beuret, François Noirjean, Clément Saucy : Franches-Montagnes. Pays du cheval. Porrentruy, 1997

Germain Carnat : Essais historiques sur l'élevage du cheval du Jura. Berne, 1934

Louis Crelier : Vaillant, musique originale du spectacle du 100e Marché-Conours, mis en scène par Gérard Demierre (Disque compact). Neuchâtel, 2003

Stéphane Goël : La dernière bataille du cheval suisse. Le cheval des Franches-Montagnes a-t-il un avenir ? (Vidéocassette TSR). Genève, 1999

Pierre-André Poncet : Le cheval des Franches-Montagnes à travers l'histoire. Porrentruy, 2009

Syndicat chevalin « Haut de la vallée de la Sorne (HVS) » (Ed.) : 100ème anniversaire 1911-2011. Bassecourt; 2011

Vincent Wermeille : Des chevaux et des hommes. L'élevage passionné du Franches-Montagnes. Saignelégier, 1995

Vincent Wermeille : Les éleveurs du Haut-Plateau. 100 ans du syndicat chevalin du Haut-Plateau Montagnard, 1906-2006. Les Bois, 2006



Fédération suisse du franches-montagnes

Fédération jurassienne d'élevage chevalin

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