Canadian Horse (aka Le Cheval Canadien)

Breed Name:Canadian Horse

Origin: Quebec, Canada

Physical Description:

Ranging from 14-16 hands and 1000 to 1400 lbs, Canadian horses are most frequently black but also may be brown, bay or chestnut. They are hardy easy-keepers, strong and willing to work all week long, yet still exhibiting the presence, style and multi-talented nature to draw a fine carriage or win a jumping competition on the weekends.


Typically Canadian, the Cheval Canadien has been the unsung hero of North American horse breeds. Over a span of about 150 years, from 1665 when the first horses were sent over to Canada by King Louis XIV of France, the breed developed in Quebec from foundation Spanish, Norman, and Breton stock. Only the fittest survived the harsh winters, scarcity of feed and hard work, earning them the nickname “Le Petit Cheval de Fer” or “The Little Iron Horse.”

A calm and willing disposition, excellent feet, stamina and strength, made it an ideal cavalry horse, and by the mid 1800’s Canadians were sold by thousands to the U.S. Army. They found their way into the early stud books of the Morgan, Standardbred, and Tennessee Walking Horse breeds.

Sadly throughout the 1900’s, the breed number diminished to the point to where, outside of the province of Quebec, the Canadian Horse became virtually unknown. During the 1970?s, the breed hit an all time low when only approximately 400 registered Canadian Horses remained in existence, and less than five registrations were being recorded per year. Fortunately, since that time, dedicated breeders have worked diligently to save the breed from extinction and to preserve it according to the traditional and historic breed standards. The breed has slowly made a comeback and the population now stands at approximately 6000 horses. Most notably, today’s Canadian Horse still retains the same qualities that made them famous throughout North America centuries ago. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about many other North American developed breeds today.

In recognition of the breed’s contribution to the history and development of the country, the Canadian Horse was named the official National Horse of Canada in April of 2002.

Primary Uses:

The Canadian is well known and respected as a pleasure and combined driving horse, and has continued to gain popularity as a riding horse, both English and Western, for recreation and competition. Canadians have proven their versatility in a number of disciplines, from jumping and dressage, to driving and pulling, to back country trail and cow work.

Breed Association: Canadian Horse Heritage and Preservation Society

(Information provided by

What did you think of this article?

Thank you for your feedback!