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Horse Breeds
First Posted: July 10,, 2009
Jan 3, 2012

Canadian Horse - The national horse of Canada - Gave Rise to the Canadian Pacer - A Gaited Horse

Canadian Horse
National Horse of Canada Act, S.C. 2002, c. 11, Assented to 2002-04-30, An Act to provide for the recognition of the Canadian horse as the national horse of Canada

Country of Origin: Canada


The Canadian has been a great influence on many American breeds. Some even claim the famous Justin Morgan, the original Morgan horse, had distinct Canadian appearances and qualities. In the 1800s many Canadians were distributed throughout the East Coast and Upper Midwestern states.

Physical Description

These horses stand between 14.3 and 16.2 hands high. The head is short with a wide forehead and narrow muzzle. The neck is strong, the shoulders are high and well-sloped, the body long and thick. This horse is hardy and long-lived-being very well proportioned and solidly built. The Canadian makes an excellent driving and riding horse. The hooves are said to be very hard and the mane and tail are wavy. The Canadian Horse is extremely hardy and possesses much endurance. Its gaits are often quite animated. Although the Canadian Horse did not have natural pacing ability, the Narragansett was bred it in and the Canadian Pacer was a result of that breeding.


The founding stock for the Canadian was brought to the French colony in the 1600s. The horses brought to Canada were of Norman and Breton stock, generally from royal studs. The Breton gave to the Canadian extreme resilience and the Norman horses gave it a slightly oriental appearance. Breeding standards were not exactly standard, however, leading to many different types of Canadian horses depending on the need for trotters, pacers, or draft work. Despite the quality of the horse and its great influence, the Canadian has never been thoroughly appreciated. The first stud book was opened in 1886 with a breeders association established shortly thereafter in 1895. But by 1940 the stud had been all but abandoned. It was not until shortly after 1979, when the Canadian government sold off the remaining Canadian herd, that breeders actively sought to protect the horse.

Interesting Facts

The early Canadian horse was put to the harshest of conditions without second thought. Owners believed the best way to toughen up a horse was to simply let it survive in the harsh environment of the northern sections of the Americas. They were allowed to run loose in the forest in the summer, fed sparse supplemental feed in the winter, and worked hard with little support.


1. Norman 2. Breton

For More Information:

Canadian Horse Breeders
Listed as "Rare" by The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (2004)
Canadian Horse

Permission given by my dear friend, Cowboy Frank to use his breeds section.
Oklahoma State University list of livestock breeds

Horse Breeds