Under the leadership of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the steward and the Comptroller General of Finance, the Conseil du Roi's decree of 17 October 1665 established the principle of the royal stallions and position of stallion keepers in order encourage private stud farms to produce higher quality horses. The institution of stud farms [Haras] was created from the desire to control the production of horses in order to improve the quality of essentially war-based uses (riding horses, troop horses). The first royal stud was founded in Saint-Léger-en-Yvelines before being transferred to Normandy to the Le Pin stud farm built in 1715. The Pompadour stud farm was created in 1764.
On 29 January 1790, the stud farm system was abolished by the National Constituent Assembly. Numerous revolutionary decrees attempted to reorganize breeding and a law of 2 Germinal III) even provided for the "temporary recovery of national deposits gathering stallions to foster horse breeding...".
Through the Saint-Cloud imperial decree of 4 July 1806, Napoleon created six districts, each with a stud farm and five stallion deposits, thus covering the whole of France. Cluny, Rodez and Montier-en-Der were installed in former religious buildings.
After the 1870 defeat, a new law, the Bocher law of 30 May 1874, reorganised the administration of the stud farms and gave the Ministry of Agriculture the responsibility for the reliability of remounts. The administrative operation of the national stud farms then remained stable for more than a century: a manager, six general inspectors (one in each district), and twenty-three stud-farm and stallion-deposit directors managing teams of agents to care for the stallions, whose numbers were set at 2500 by a 1874 law.
During the 20th century, the horse began to be used for sports and leisure purposes. The national stud farms adapted their operations, preserving draft horse breeds while offering the breeders new breeding techniques. A public institution since 1999, the national stud farms implemented a horse information system (SIRE – Système d’informations relatif aux équidés), a zootechnical and health database which lists all equines.
With the decree of 22 January 2010, the national stud farms and National School of Equitation-Cadre Noir de Saumur were merged to form the French Equitation and Horse Institute (IFCE – Institut français du cheval et de l’équitation). Reproduction tasks were then transferred to the private sector.
The IFCE's mission is to support high-level sport, to further a knowledge transfer through training and the dissemination of information, to support its heritage through tourism, entertainment, and sports and cultural events. The IFCE's headquarters is in Saumur.