All Things Horse

Forty-seven Years Of Horse Experience – At Your Service!

The Canadian Horse – My Canadian Horse!


Horse breed : The Canadian horse
by Gimme a Dream

The Canadian Horse is a little known national treasure of the country, because it was rare for someone to write about the breed. This breed has descended from royal horses, originally sent to the “New World” by King Louis XIV of France in the mid 1600’s. The Norman and Breton horses were thought to have had Arabain, Andalusian and Barb ancestry, all traits of which are still recognized in the Canadian Horse. These horses were distributed among the military officers of the Carignan-Salieres regiment, government officials and the religious communities of new colony.

For centuries the French horses bred with little influence from outside breeds. Indeed, they developed into their own distinct breed, which originally was called the “French Canadian Horse”, but has long lost that name. This horse evolved under adverse conditions of harsh weather, scarce food, and hard work and it remains the sturdiest, most acclimatized horse in Canadian history. They are tough, strong horses, tolerant of inclement weather conditions, and are extremely “easy keepers”. Because of these traits, the Canadian Horse is often referred to as “The Little Iron Horse”.

In the 1800’s around 150,000 of the animals were known to exist. The breed was used for cross-breeding to improve strength and hardiness in other breeds and aided in the founding of breeds such as the Morgan, Tennessee Walking Horse, the Standardbred and the American Saddlebred. The number began to dwindle rapidly when the horse was exported for wars and work in dangerous situations. The Canadian Horse was near extinction with the advent of mechanized farm machinery. By the late 1870’s the peril of the breed was finally recognized and efforts were made by diligent breeders to bring the Canadian Horse back from the verge of extinction. In 1888, the first stud book was created to try and preserve the breed.

Down to a count of 400 horses worldwide and only approximately 250 breeding stock in Canada, the breed slowly began to gain in numbers, after the first stud book was presented. However, after more than a century, there are still only 2500 purebreds in existence. The Canadian Horse is classified as “critical” on the American Livestock Conservancy list. On April 30th, 2002, a bill was passed into law by the Canadian Government making the Canadian Horse an official animal symbol of Canada, sharing the title with the beaver.

Typically the Canadian stands 14 to 16 hands high and weighs 1000 to 1400 pounds. Most often they are black in color, but have been known to be dark brown, bay or chestnut. They have finely chiseled heads, naturally arching necks and thick, long manes and tails that may or may not be wavy. They have sturdy, strong legs and short cannon bones often exceeding nine inches in circumference. Their hooves are exceptionally well formed, tough and require little more that routine trimming. The Canadian Horse is renown for its kind, sensible, sociable nature, intelligence and willingness to please.

Most commonly used for driving, the Canadian Horse is truly one of the most versatile of all breeds and may be found in show classes doing such activities as dressage, jumping, and in event classes. It is known for it’s long endurance, trail-riding, ranch work or just being the family or kid’s horse. Whatever reason a person might want a horse for, a Canadian will fit into that position comfortably.


November 14, 2008 - Posted by | horse breed | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Willow is a Canadian horse! Truthfully, I have never seen a horse more capable of making a fool out of me, then she is.  Willow is a problem-solver.  She has learned quickly how to open gates, lift bars over posts, untie knots in any rope fence or tied door.  Canadians are well know for their problem-solving capabilities and this little one is no exception. The only thing about her that doesn’t remind me of a Canadian is her incredible stubbornness.  I don’t know if it is bred into her or if it is a learned trait but my Willow is more mule, in that one respect! […]

    Pingback by Is There An Escape Artist In Every Herd? « All Things Horse | March 29, 2009

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