The Canadian Horse (le Cheval Canadien) was introduced to New France (now Quebec) in 1665 when what is believed to be Breton and Norman horses were brought over from France by King Louis XIV. A very diligent breeding system allowed for the breed’s quick proliferation in the French colony to be used as valuable work and riding animals.

In 1895, veterinarian J.A. Couture set out the breed standards and founded the Canadian Horse Breeders Association. In 1999, the government of Quebec officially recognized the Canadian horse as an important part of the province’s heritage. The Canadian Horse was named an official symbol of Canada ‒ “Canada’s National Horse” ‒ in 2002 via a Parliamentary act.

Today, livestock conservation organizations still consider the breed to be at risk due to low population numbers. According to Heritage Livestock Canada the breed is listed as ‘vulnerable.’


The Canadian Horse possesses courage, spirit, and an affectionate good nature. (Ron Marino photo)

“The Little Iron Horse” is a solidly-built individual, small but robust, with strong hocks, a broad neck, bright eyes, sensitive ears, sloping shoulders, powerful but short back, deep chest, clean legs, and a long and flowing mane and tail.

These horses are commonly dark coloured ‒ black, bay, or brown ‒ with the occasional chestnut coat, but rarely grey. The breed typically stands between 14-16 hands.

Versatile and easy-keeping, they possess courage, spirit, an affectionate good nature, and considerable endurance.


The smooth gaits and flashy trot of the Canadian Horse makes them desireable for driving, and they can also be found doing dressage, jumping, eventing, western events, and as reliable trail riding partners.

For more information about the Canadian Horse, visit:
Societe Des Eleveurs De Chevaux Canadiens/Canadian Horse Breeders Assoc.
Canadian Horse Association Rocky Mountain District

Bob Langrish photo