The Canadian, unbeknownst to most horse enthusiasts, 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.
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 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 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 wasn't until shortly after 1979, when the Canadian government sold off the remaining Canadian herd, that breeders actively sought to protect the horse, today supporting around 1,500 animals.
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