Canadian Horse Facts And Information – Breed Profile

The Canadian Horse is a horse that originated in Canada. Also known as the French Canadian horse or Cheval Canadien, it has a history of more than 450 years. When exports to the US caused a fall in the numbers of horses, the federal government started a breeding program in 1913.

Canadian Horse

The horse is a strong one that is intelligent and easy to handle. It is one of the highly versatile horse breeds that is used for multiple purposes.

Inspite of the various breeding programs to promote the breeding of this horse, the numbers are relatively low. This is why the breed is considered to be one at risk.


This horse was first introduced in 1663. It was King Louis XIV of France who sent the first lot of twelve horses of this breed. There is no record of how this horse was bred though it is believed it is a mix of different breeds.

The horse was put to hard work by farmers and the ability of the horse to work hard gave it the nickname of iron horse. In the 18th century, the horse was found all over Canada and the US and thrived well. Being abundant in number, the horses were exported from North America to the West Indies.

The studbook for this breed was created in 1886. In 1895, the Canadian horse breeders association was formed. In 1913, an experimental breeding program was started by the government in Cap Rouge. Laws were also made to prevent the export of the horse.

The Canadian horse was made the official horse in Canada in 2002. It has been accorded the status of a heritage breed of Quebec.


The Canadian horse has done well despite adverse conditions. It is a sturdy horse that is energetic and capable of a variety of work. Even though it is energetic, it is also calm and allows itself to be trained.

It is a strong and agile horse that is used for show jumping, trail riding, and draft work. In the past, it was used on the farm. It was also used in the military. It is an intelligent breed that is graceful in appearance.


The horse requires good quality hay for its food. Its diet includes rice bran, pulp, and pasture. The horse requires plenty of clean drinking water. The horse is popular and is known as an easy keeper.

It is low maintenance since it does not require any special diet. It does not even need grain, hay and grass are sufficient.

Breeding And Uses

The Canadian horse breeders association created the stud book for this horse. When the horses started declining in numbers exports were banned. With only 400 horses in the 1970s, breeders started a campaign to promote the horse. This led to a Canadian team winning the North American driving championships in 1987.

The present population of this breed is believed to be 2,000 horses. Livestock conservation agencies consider this breed as one under risk since its population is less than 5,000.

The horse is used for work on the farm, jumping, and as a leisure horse.


The weight of the Canadian horse mare is between 1,000 pounds (450kg) to 1,250 pounds (570 kg). The stallion weights between 1,050 pounds (480 kg) to 1,350 pounds (610 kg).

The horse is between 14 to 16 hands in height, which is 142 to 163 cm. 

What Breeds Make Up The Canadian Walking Horse?

There are no records of the breeds that made up the original shipment of horses sent by King Louis XIV. It is believed that the breeds include the Belgian, Dales Pony, Breton, Percheron, and Norman horses.

The Canadian horses have characteristics that are similar to that of the Barb, Arabian horses, and the Andalusian horses


This horse is commonly available in black, brown, and bay colors. The manes and tails are flaxen colored. Sometimes you can find horses that are grey or chestnut colored.

What Do They Look Like?

The head of the horse is high. It is short but straight. It has thin ears that are short. The forehead of the horse is broad and flat. It has bright and active eyes set well apart. These horses have arched necks and sloping shoulders.

The withers are raised and the back is strong and fairly broad. It was muscular shoulders that are strong and sloping like the croup. Its chest is deep and broad. The legs are strong and set well apart. The tail is high and is long and flowing just like the manes.

What Is A Canadian Horse Used For?

There were three types of these horses bred initially. They were based on the use of the horse, namely pacing, trotting, and draft. However, these horses are no longer available. Today, these horses are used as leisure horses and as trail horses.

They are used for jumping and for draft. The horses have strong stamina. They can pull large weights and are used to haul wagons and logs. They are also used in dressage. They are also used as police horses.

Where Do They Live?

As the name itself suggests, these horses are found in Canada, where they originated. There were heavily exported to the USA but those horses were mostly killed in the civil war. The horses are few in number compared to other horses. There are 2,000 horses available mostly in Canada.

How Long Do They Live?

Canadian horses live on an average for 25 years. The horses can also live up to 30 years. This makes this breed one of the long-lived ones.

A significant feature of this horse is that it is very tough. It has adapted itself to difficult circumstances and hence is a healthy horse. It grows coats in winter and does not face problems. It doesn’t need special dietary care either.

Some common health conditions that could affect this breed are arthritis and degenerative joint diseases. Infection anemia is another problem some horses may face. 

How Fast Are They?

The Canadian horse is a strong horse. Being a versatile horse, it is even used in the military. It is used for endurance riding and can run fairly fast.

It is not a racehorse but can run at average speeds of 40 kilometers per hour or 25 miles per hour.

How Much Do They Cost?

There are very few numbers of these horses available. They can be bought directly from the breeders or from the association.

The average cost of the horse sold on the association website is $4500.

Are Canadian Horses Good For Beginners?

The Canadian horse is an excellent horse for beginners. It is a horse that is best suited for all types of riders. It is a horse suited for experienced riders as well as beginners. The horse is one of the toughest ones and the most versatile.

It has been used for varied applications over the ages. This has made the horse suited for all kinds of uses. Whether used just for leisure, jumping, or for work on the farm, the horse is well-suited.

It is strong and powerful. It doesn’t require a special diet nor does it have any serious health issues. This makes the horse easy to maintain. Inspite of its strength, it is a docile and calm horse. It is amiable to training and is intelligent.

The horse gets along well with the rider and is co-operative. This makes it excellent for beginners. 

Conclusion / Summary

The Canadian horse traces its origins back to the times of King Louis XIV who sent the first batch of horses from France. Since then, the horse has gone through phases of growth and decline. There was a time when the horses were exported to the USA and were even found as feral horses in many places.

Subsequently, the horse has seen a fall in its numbers. Many breeding programs have been launched and the exports stopped by the Canadian government. This has led to a gradual rise in its numbers.

The horse remains a breed under risk due to its low numbers. However, the increasing number of new foal registrations is a positive development. The Canadian horse is developed from different breeds and it has also contributed to the growth of many other horse breeds.

It is a horse that looks graceful and is strong. The powerful horse has strong shoulders that allow it to pull weights heavier than itself. This is why it is used for trail and farm work. It is also a leisure horse and gets along well with its riders. It has a calm temperament making it easy to handle even for beginners.

The Canadian horse lives for around 25 years. It generally has no health problems and has good immunity. It can survive on hay and grass and needs no special maintenance. This makes it a low-maintenance horse and an owner’s delight.

There’s a whole world of horse breeds out there to explore! Discover and find out more information by checking out our horse breed guides.