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 of Quebec, cradle of the breed, 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

Since the opening of the first genealogy registry in 1907 and the first definition of the standard (just over 100 years ago), the breed has already had to deal with a reopening of the books due to possible disappearance, and cross-breeding trials during Deschambault’s time (after 1967). Even if the registries have been closed since the beginning of the 1980s and no foal can enter them if both parents are not themselves registered, no DNA test of parentage was guaranteeing the ancestry of the offspring. It is only since the year 2000, from which DNA parentage testing was made compulsory, that the real purity of registered subjects can be guaranteed.

Somehow because of this, there is still a certain diversity of phenotypes within the breed today. Just as at the time we distinguished the “roadster type” from the “coach type” type, several models now seem, in fact, to co-exist, ranging from a more “traditional” model (shorter and stockier built, with substantial bone), up to a more “sporty” model (a little longer, slender and lighter, also with substantial bone, good balance and all the breed characteristics).

In a context where the Canadian horse is still threatened with extinction, the Canadian Horse Breeders Association has chosen for the moment to adhere to the orientations advocated by the Animal Pedigree Act (APA), namely “that the standards of the breed should refer to the range of expressed traits considered to be acceptable […] rather than an ideal animal” and currently focuses on developing tools to:

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