Canadian horse breeds can be spotted at shows, farms, and even in the wild!
Some are bred for their temperament, and many for their hardy build, and ability to withstand cold temperatures.
Unlike many American Horse Breeds that are the popular choice for mainstream equestrian sports, these Canadian horse breeds are often very rare, some with populations below 200.
But one thing these breeds all have in common is they are an important part of Canadian history.
Canadian Horse Breeds
Canadian Horse (Cheval Canadien)
Typically black, bay or dark brown, these well built horses have a stocky build and range from 14 to 16.2 hands tall. Descended from draft and riding horses imported to Canada in the late 1600s, Canadians are now used for light farm work, trail riding, driving and other equestrian sports.
Due to an extremely low population, and only 100 – 150 foals being registered per year, the Livestock Conservancy considers the breed to be threatened.
Despite the low numbers, there is still a dedicated group of owners and breeders working to keep the breed from extinction.
See the Le Cheval Canadien for more info.
Canadian Rustic Pony
This breed originated in the prairie provinces of Canada by crossing the Heck horse and Welsh/Arabian ponies. With a average size between 12.2 and 13.2 hands, these ponies are known for their primitive markings such as dorsal and zebra stripes.
Because of their small size, they are often used by children for jumping, driving or simply as pets.
Lac La Croix Indian Pony (Ojibwe Pony)
Thought to be the only breed created by indigenous people in North America, these tough, hardy ponies are well adapted to extreme Canadian weather.
They are often used to help indigenous youth remain in touch with their heritage, as well as in equine-assisted therapy programs. With less than 200 world-wide, this is another Canadian breed on the brink of extinction.
See the Red Pony Stands® Ojibwe Horse Sanctuary for more info.
The Newfoundland Government has recognized this breed as a Heritage Animal due to its 400 year history with the settlers of Newfoundland.
With a height between 11.0 to 14.2 hands, and a thick, solid coat, these ponies were used for transportation and farming until the 1970’s.
They are now a treasured mount for young children, and often used for driving.
See the Newfoundland Pony Society for more info.
Sable Island Horse
Introduced to Sable Island in the 1700s, these horses are now formally protected and truly wild, living without human interference.
With a current population of between 450 to 550, Parks Canada works with experts to research and monitor the horses and their ecological role on Sable Island.
See the Sable Island National Park Reserve for more info.
Other Canadian Breed Registries:
Canadian Sport Horse
The Canadian Sport Horse Association is incorporated under Agriculture Canada’s Animal Pedigree Act as an Evolving Breed.
The term “sport horse”, is defined as a horse capable of successfully competing in the disciplines of Dressage, Jumpers, Eventing or Hunters.
Modeled after the European registry system, the Canadian Warmblood Horse Breeders Association (CWHBA) was Incorporated under the Canadian Live Stock Pedigree Act in 1991.
The breeding goal is a medium sized, well built Warmblood horse that is naturally talented to excel in Olympic sport and other related disciplines.
Want to learn more about Horse Breeds? Check out these top posts:
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Horse Breed Abbreviations
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What are your favorite Canadian horse breeds?