History of the Canadian Horse
The Canadian Horse was
officially deemed to be the "National Horse of Canada"
in Parliament in April of 2002. The journey to arrive at this momentous
achievement was a long and rocky one.
The Canadian Horse is
a breed of horse inherent only to Canada, and which has evolved
over the past 350 years to become a distinct breed in its own right.
It developed from stock sent to Canada by King Louis XIV during
the 17th century.
The Canadian Horse is
one of the oldest recognized North American horse breeds, with the
first breed registry and stud book established in 1886. Through
selection of only the fittest individuals, the breed became uniquely
suited to the rigors of living in Canada.
During the past three
centuries, the breed has remained largely unchanged, and even now
closely resembles those horses noted in Canadian historical etchings
and paintings, such as the one to the right.
Of note is the fact that
that "the Canadian, bred in isolation for so long, does still
appear to be genetically distinct from the popular racing and riding
breeds, reinforcing the need to give high priority to its conservation"
(DNA Detectives, 1998 Canadian Horse Annual).
For more detailed information
on the breed's history, see our Breed Information
and Breed History pages.
C. Krieghoff: Sleigh Race Across the Ice, 1861
Threats to the Breed
The advent of mechanization
during the mid 1900s nearly marked the end of the Canadian Horse
breed. After the second world war, the Canadian Horse population
steadily dropped until it hit crisis proportions in the 1970s. Less
than 5 registrations per year were being recorded from1970 - 1974,
and the number of horses had dropped to an estimated 400.
During the late 1970s
a few influential breeders recognized the plight of the breed, and
slowly started acquiring quality animals, setting up breeding programs,
and once again began promoting the breed and its wonderful qualities.
By the early to mid 1990s,
the breed finally began to look like it was on its way back to recovery.
The numbers were up to about 2500 - 3000 live animals worldwide
and the status was changed from "critical" to "rare"
by the American Livestock Conservancy.
With its increase in
popularity during the early 2000s, unfortunately, just as has happened
to so many other breeds, pressure began to be placed on the Canadian
Horse to change from the traditional breed type, in order to suit
the show ring and to meet perceived market trends.
Of great concern to Canadian
Horse lovers everywhere, was the ongoing concerted effort by some,
to change the Canadian Horse and its century old breed standard
from its original historic type, to a "taller, more refined"
In 2002, a small group
of individuals in western Canada became very concerned about the
direction the breed was going. Determined to not lose the integrity
of this breed, they decided it was time to form a group whose goal
was to preserve and respect the history of this historic and distinctly
Canadian breed. And thus the idea of CHHAPS was born.
Since breed preservation
was of the utmost importance, a motto that truly represented the
goal of the group was essential. We feel that the CHHAPS motto,
"Preserving for our children, the horse of our forefathers"
captures this perfectly. This motto was adopted from a translation
of the original motto used by l'Association Québécoise
du Cheval Canadien (AQCC); "Nous elevons pour nos enfants les
chevaux de nos peres". The AQCC has very graciously allowed
us to use the english translation of their motto.
that the shared use of this motto very much demonstrates the ongoing
sense of cooperation and unity regarding the preservation of this
breed. This drive for breed conservation is occurring nationwide,
and is born out of the mutual love of the breed, and the desire
to preserve something very special, and uniquely Canadian.
The Formation of CHHAPS & Our Affiliations
CHHAPS was officially
formed in the fall of 2002, and is officially registered as a non-profit
society under the Society Act of BC (Oct 2002).
CHHAPS is a completely
independent organization, although we do have ties to organizations
with similar purposes which are located in both Ontario and Quebec.
For more information on these organizations, please see the Canadien
Horse Breeders of Ontario or l'Association Québécoise
du Cheval Canadien websites.
We are not a formally
recognized district of the Canadian Horse Breeders Association (CHBA)
for a number of reasons. First of all, the CHBA districts are designated
by geographical region, whereas our membership is much broader,
coming from all over Canada and the USA. Secondly, the CHBA's mandate
is quite different from ours. Their mission statement reads: "The
[Canadian Horse Breeders] Associations primary mission is
to register and identify individual animals belonging to the Canadian
horse breed, and keep up-to-date pedigree files on these animals."
Since our aim was to have a much more "hands on", social,
and educational role regarding the breed, we felt that this would
be best served by remaining an independent organization.
having said that, CHHAPS does continue to have close ties to the
CHBA. The majority of horse owning CHHAPS members are also CHBA
members, and all Canadian Horses attending the CHHAPS shows must
be registered with the CHBA/CLRC. Several CHHAPS members have served,
or continue to serve on a variety of CHBA committees. In addition,
since June 2005, all CHHAPS events have been officially sanctioned
as well as publicized by the CHBA. In 2006, CHHAPS was proud to
have the CHHAPS Pacific Horse Show officially opened and overseen
by Sylvie Denault, 2006 CHBA President.
Thinking of Joining CHHAPS?
Our organization consists
of an enthusiastic, yet relaxed and informal group of individuals
whose interests lie with the breed education and preservation, and
in networking and participating in various activities with others
of a similar mindset.
We invite all Canadian
Horse owners, any members of the CHBA or any other Canadian Horse
or equine organizations, and in fact anyone at all who is simply
interested in the Canadian Horse breed (even if a non-horse owner)
to join our group. If you support our goals, want to participate
in our great variety of activities, and want to learn more about
this wonderful breed, you'll fit right in!
If you want to join CHHAPS,
download an application form here.
For more information
on CHHAPS, please see our "Frequently Asked
Questions" (FAQ) page or feel free
to contact any of the CHHAPS Executive.