Standard and Characteristics

Canadian Horse, who are you?

There are some horses that you never forget.

Their presence and charisma strike your imagination.

In their eyes, brimming with intelligence, we perceive their sensitivity.

Their talent, often underestimated, convince the skepticals.

Frank and valiant, they always give it their all.

Thanks to their hardiness, they can defy harsh climates.

Strong and endurance, in death they reach their limit.

Lifetime companions, their loyalty and devotion are yours forever.

That’s what makes a Canadian horse. All that and more.

Standard and characteristics

The Canadian Horse is a reflection of the country that produced it. Shaped by a harsh, extreme climate, formed by the hard work it did in colonial times, it developed unparallelled strength, endurance and robustness. It is loyal, docile, willing, sensible and intelligent.

  • The Canadian Horse has a rather compact shape.
  • Its sturdy build makes it strong and powerful.
  • Its back and loins are broad, short and strong.
  • The neck is fairly arched and gracefully attached, strong and powerful, without being heavy or too short.
  • The breast is broad, the shoulders are rather long and sloping rather than straight.
  • The head is short and harmonious, the forehead is broad with a straight profile, the ears are small and set well apart.
  • The eyes are large and expressive, with a kind, wise expression.
  • The hair is generally long and abundant.
  • Though the predominant colour is black (around 70% of the stock), all colours and white markings are accepted.
  • Its height varies between 14 to 16 hh (1.42 m to 1.62 m) and its weight between 1,000 and 1,400 lbs (450-635 kg)
  • Its movement is free and vigorous (with good propulsion and limb elevation, and no excessive knee movement).
  • Leg conformation must be straight, and the feet are large, strong and solid.

Graphic representation of the Canadian horse (1991)

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Graphic representation of the Canadian horse (1895)

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A horse with many faces

Though the standard is well defined, some descriptions are fairly broad and flexible. There is therefore, still today, a certain phenotype diversity resulting from various factors (it’s a relatively “new” breed, DNA parentage tests have only been mandatory since the early 2000s, lack of tools to help breeders select breeding stock, etc.).

Despite the conflicts this may occasionally create within the breeder community, two types always seem to stand out:

  • A shorter and stockier build, with substantial bone (sometimes referred to as the “old type,” but we prefer using “traditional type” to highlight their timelessness);
  • A slightly longer, lighter and more agile build, also with substantial bone, good balance and all the breed characteristics (commonly called the “sportive type”).

Rather than trying to decide which to favour, the Canadian Horse Breeders Association is currently focusing on developing tools to:

  • Increase the pace of breeding to prevent the breed from disappearing;
  • Promote the use of the broadest genetic pool possible;
  • Educate breeders and raise awareness regarding the importance of selecting breeding animals that are free of genetic defects or diseases.