In 1926, the Canadian Hunter and Light Horse Improvement Society was formed to identify and register “sport horses” suitable for competing in the Dressage, Jumper, Eventing or Hunter disciplines. This later evolved into the Canadian Hunter Improvement Society and in the mid-1980s the Canadian Sport Horse Association (CSHA) was formed ‒ Canada’s oldest indigenous sport horse breed registry.
The original crosses of hot blood from Thoroughbreds and Arabians mixed with colder blood from the heavier draft-type animals have evolved over the decades as the market demands changed. The CSHA became the first open studbook in North America to include European warmbloods in its pedigrees to achieve this.
The Canadian Sport Horse is considered an “evolving breed” under the Agriculture Canada’s Animal Pedigree Act, which gives breeders the freedom to plan successful and competitive breeding programs based on genetics and demand. The CSHA is a member of the World Breeding Federation of Sport Horses.
Canadian Sport Horses should be of ‘sport horse’ type: built to succeed in the hunter, jumper, dressage or eventing disciplines. Ideal height is from 16-17 hands with good body depth and substance, a well-defined head with large, expressive eyes, strong, clean joints and well-angled pasterns. The well-set neck should flow to well-defined withers, a long, sloping shoulder and a smooth topline. Hindquarters should be muscular and well-rounded. All gaits should show impulsion and be correct, straight, balanced, and ground-covering. Both stallions and mares should possess good character, intelligence, courage, and an athletic presence.
All Canadian Sport Horses intended for breeding purposes must be inspected and meet the required criteria for sport horse type. Inspections include being presented in-hand; stallions must also be free-jumped and be submitted to a veterinary inspection, and meet performance requirements after the age of three.
The Canadian Sport Horse excels at exactly what it was bred to do, showing exceptional talent for jumping, dressage and eventing. Its natural courage and intelligence make it suitable for many other disciplines as well, or as a trusted companion for hunting or hacking.
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