Name of breed: Canadian Horse
Country of origin: Canada
Breed origin: The Canadian Horse descended from the French stock Louis XIV sent to Canada in the late 17th century. These draft and light riding horses were later crossed with other British and American breeds and during the 18th century the Canadian Horse spread throughout the north-eastern US, thriving in the harsh conditions. During the peak popularity of the breed, three subtypes could be distinguished – a draft horse type, a trotting type, and a pacing type.
In the 19th century thousands of horses were exported and subsequently killed acting as cavalry horses in the American Civil War. These exports decreased the purebred Canadian population almost to the point of extinction, prompting the formation of a studbook and the passage of a law against further export.
The early 20th century saw experimental breeding programs attempt to re-establish the breed to some extent, but mechanisation combined with two world wars, again resulted in the breed almost reaching extinction. In the 1980s, a group of breeders undertook a promotional program which saw a renewed interest in the breed, and by the 1990s, population numbers had increased. However, livestock conservation organisations still consider the breed to be at risk and are working to continue to increase their numbers.
Distinguishing features: Mostly dark in colour (i.e. black, bay or brown), the breed occasionally gets a few chestnuts with flaxen manes and tails. On average, the Canadian Horse stands between 14 to 16 hands high, and has a short, high-set head with a broad forehead. Their necks are arched and graceful and overall, the breed gives the impression of strength and agility. Their heavy and often wavy mane and tail, arched necks and finely boned heads are all reminiscent of Andalusian and Barb ancestry. Canadian Horses are known to be hardy and easy keepers.
Unlike most breeds, there is a set naming system that is used to identify each individual horse of the breed, based on the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation’s registration format. First comes the prefix, the farm or breeding establishment of which the foal was born into, followed by the sire’s name, and lastly the given name for the foal. Each year a different letter is assigned to begin the given name for the foal, and it is by the year’s letter that the foal is named.
Modern day Canadian Horse: Today the Canadian Horse is mostly used as riding and driving horses, although they are known for their jumping ability. They are seen in the competition ring in almost every discipline, and are also used for trail riding and light stock work.
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