It's not unusual for someone to have not heard of the Canadian Horse. They are critically endangered here in the States and are listed as "vulnerable" in Canada. But they are indeed a breed. In fact, they are the oldest distinct breed of horse in N. America. Despite this fact, when I tell people I breed Canadians, many times the response is... "A Canadian What? Warmblood? Thoroughbred Cross? Sport Horse? Chunk?"
No... just Canadians!
Canadians are unique and an excellent mount for just about everyone
There is a plethora of information out there about the breed and I’ve included some links should you want more information. But here’s what makes this horse unique and an excellent mount for everyone from the casual rider to upper level competitor...
- Canadians are incredibly versatile and were bred to be so. There are Canadians competing in everything from FEI levels of dressage to beating quarter horses by dozens of seconds in Extreme Cowboy. They are particularly suited to disciplines that provide a variety of challenges like eventing, equitation, combined driving and TREC.
- Canadians are warmblood and sport horse eligible in the US, making them an affordable alternative to many other breeds.
- The breed has a range of conformation types, making the addage "there's a Canadian for everyone," just about true. With the breed standard between 14.2hh and 16hh, 1000 to 1400 pounds you can find short stocky horses to tall, lighter builds and everything in between while still maintaining the uniquely Canadian look and temperament.
- Despite the tendency of being a heavier horse, Canadians can be very light footed and flexible. Many times I have heard owners say judges, fellow competitors and even trainers underestimate the talent of the breed -- only to be surprised by what they are capable.
- Canadians have legs with dense, strong bones and substantial, rugged feet, making them sound and hearty.
- Canadians are strong and have stamina. Known to out-pull larger breeds, they earned the nick name "The Little Iron Horse."
- Canadians have an unusual connection to their "people." Repeatedly, owners say they have never had a connection to another horse or breed like they do with their Canadians.
- Canadians are highly intelligent. They are puzzle solvers and retain their training. Trainers often comment that they can "pick up where they left off" and build on skills as opposed to having to re-teach before moving on. This intelligence also makes them naturally curious and not as flighty as other breeds.
- Canadians are extremely easy-keepers. So much so that many new owners make the mistake of over-feeding. It is not unusual for a Canadian who is regularly worked to subsist in good flesh with little to no grain and four flakes of good, first cut hay a day.
- Canadians have a colorful and incredible history -- beginning in the stables of King Louis XIV, through the founding of Canada to helping the North win the Civil War. If you're a history buff or looking for a breed with an amazing story, the Canadian provides that in spades!
- You can't beat the beauty of the Canadian. Thick, long and flowing manes and tails, alert well-spaced eyes, beautiful heads and an array of colors make the Canadian a real head-turner!
Check out these websites and pages for more information regarding the Canadian Horse:
- The Canadian Horse Breeders Association: The official breed organization. Information on the history of the breed, breed standards, membership info, etc.
- The Canadian Livestock Records Corporation: The registration database for all registered breeds in Canada. This site is open to anyone and does not require membership in any organization. Look up the registration, pedigree, breeder and owner of any registered horse.
- The Canadian Horse Heritage and Preservation Society: History and other breed information.
- New England Cheval Canadien: The New England/NY network of owners, breeders and enthusiasts.
- The Livestock Conservancy: The US organization for endangered heritage breeds.
- Equus Survival Trust: Educational non-profit organization dedicated to protecting historical equine breeds.
- Rare Breeds Canada: The Canadian organization for endangered heritage breeds.
- A Brief History of the Canadian Horse, by Mario Gendron.
- University of Guelph, Ontario Study: This study found that the breed has no genetic defects and is genetically diverse despite periods of low numbers and that the Morgan is their closest genetic relative.
- Texas A&M Genetic Study: This study definitely proved that the Canadian is the oldest breed in N. America and confirmed that, despite periods of low numbers, the breed remains genetically diverse. It also showed the Morgan breed was founded using Canadians as part of their breeding stock.
- Informational video from the CHBA.
Photo by Zach Staude, © Three Fold Farm.