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Franconi horses

Which horses made up the Franconi cavalry?  Two censuses nearly twenty years apart, in 1793 and 1816, make it possible to have a look. Composed of 16 horses in 1793, then 26 horses, the cavalry had more than forty horses in the 1830s while that of the Hippodrome reached more than 200 horses in the 1850s.


In 1793, the typical horse in the Franconi stable was bay, 6½ years old, 4 feet 9 inches tall, and short-tailed. In 1816, the average horse, aged 9½, was bay or chestnut, with a short tail and a value of 254 francs (this average is however relative given the difference between the extremes, 1500 francs for the most expensive, 30 francs for the least expensive). However, the value of each animal needs also to be considered an estimate to date and not the purchase price.

The purpose of the 1793 census was to count all the horses that could be requisitioned for the army. In the cavalry, "the hussars, the chasseurs, the dragoons, the legions are mounted on horses of medium height" that is to say between "4 feet 8 inches (1.51 m) and 4 feet 11 inches ( 1.59 m)", specific to horses "resistant, capable of carrying the weight of the rider and his pack for a long time (…), insensitive to the sound of firearms, undemanding in terms of food". Almost all of Antonio Franconi's horses fit this description. Luckily, they were not requisitioned.


Blomac (N. de), Glory and the game: of men and horses 1766-1866 , Paris, Fayard,  1991, p. 104 and by the same author, "The war horse between saying and doing. Some variations on equestrian discourse adapted to military reality", in Roche (D.) dir., Le Cheval et la guerre du XVe au XXe siècle , Paris, Association for the Academy of Equestrian Art of Versailles, 2002, p.57-61

Chevaux Antoine Franconi 1793
Chevaux des Frères Franconi 1816


Age and out of age : the age of five marks the entry into service of the horse until then still considered a foal. This explains why Franconi's horses are at least five years old. Hors d'âge refers to horses over ten years old. The age is counted according to the dentition and is one of the three characteristics which make it possible to identify the horse

Horse's coat: refers to the color of the animal's coat. The coat designation is one of three characteristics that identify the horse with size and age.

Chestnut : shade of the coat tending towards brown and whose hair is also brown

Bay : shade of the dress pulling towards brown and whose horsehair and ends are black

Grey : shade of the coat which consists of a mixture of black and white hairs

Balzane : white mark, more or less important at the bottom of a member of the horse

Muzzle : part of the horse's head which is located between the eyes and the nostrils and which can be white

Header : white mark on the forehead (part of the head between the forelock and the horse's eyes) 

Pelota header : white hairs on the forehead

All hair and long hair : these expressions indicate the care given to the horse's mane and tail. A long hair indicates that the mane and tail are combed which gives a neat and silky appearance generally specific to presentation horses. 

Winded : horse that has breathing difficulties (lung problems)

Taré : said of a horse suffering from a tare, more or less serious condition, curable or incurable; the defects are ranked according to a precise typology in order to be able to judge the value of the horse.

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