The Canadian horse (French: cheval Canadien) is a horse breed from Canada. It is a strong, well-muscled breed of horse, usually dark in colour. The horses are generally used for riding and driving. Descended from draft and light riding horses imported to Canada in the late 1600s, it was later crossed with other British and American breeds. During the 18th century the Canadian horse spread throughout the northeastern US, where it contributed to the development of several horse breeds. During the peak popularity of the breed, three subtypes could be distinguished, a draft horse type, a trotting type and a pacing type. Thousands of horses were exported in the 19th century, many of whom were subsequently killed while 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. Experimental breeding programs in the early 20th century succeeded in re-establishing the breed to some extent, but mechanization, combined with two world wars, again resulted in the breed almost becoming extinct. In the 1980s, concerned with the declining population numbers, interested breeders undertook a promotional program, which resulted in renewed interest in the breed. By the 1990s, population numbers were higher, and genetic studies in 1998 and 2012 found relatively high levels of genetic diversity for a small breed. However, livestock conservation organizations still consider the breed to be at risk, due to low population numbers.
Also known as
This breed is also called Canadain Horse, Canadian, Canadian Cutting Horse, Canadian Horse, Canadian Pacer as well as Canadian Warmblood.
Is your horse a Canadian Horse?
You can use our Horse Scanner app to find out whether your horse is a Canadian Horse.