Canadian, the Cheval Canadien has been the unsung hero of North
American horse breeds. Over a span of about 150 years, from
1665 when the first horses were sent over to Canada by King
Louis XIV of France, the breed developed in Quebec from foundation
Spanish, Norman, and Breton stock. Only the fittest survived
the harsh winters, scarcity of feed and hard work, earning them
the nickname Le Petit Cheval de Fer or The
Little Iron Horse.
A calm and willing
disposition, excellent feet, stamina and strength, made it
an ideal cavalry horse, and by the mid 1800s Canadians
were sold by thousands to the U.S. Army. They found their
way into the early stud books of the Morgan, Standardbred,
and Tennessee Walking Horse breeds.
the 1900's, the breed number diminished to the point to where,
outside of the province of Quebec, the Canadian Horse became
virtually unknown. During the 1970s, the breed hit an
all time low when only approximately 400 registered Canadian
Horses remained in existence, and less than 5 registrations
were being recorded per year. Fortunately, since that time,
dedicated breeders have worked diligently to save the breed
from extinction and to preserve it according to the traditional
and historic breed standards. The breed has slowly made a
comeback and the population now stands at approximately 6000
horses. Most notably, todays Canadian Horse still retains
the same qualities that made them famous throughout North
America centuries ago. Unfortunately the same can't be said
about many other North American developed breeds today. Click
here to view/download the breed standards.
from 14-16 hands and 1000 to 1400 lbs, they are most frequently
black but also may be brown, bay or chestnut. They are hardy
easy-keepers, strong and willing to work all week long, yet
still exhibiting the presence, style and multi-talented nature
to draw a fine carriage or win a jumping competition on the
of the breeds contribution to the history and development
of the country, the Canadian Horse was named the official
National Horse of Canada in April of 2002.
The Canadian is
well known and respected as a pleasure and combined driving
horse, and has continued to gain popularity as a riding horse,
both English and Western, for recreation and competition.
Canadians have proven their versatility in a number of disciplines,
from jumping and dressage, to driving and pulling, to back
country trail and cow work.