Can you name any Canadian horse breeds? These horses’ hardy, shaggy beauty is sure to pull at your heartstrings. In this post, learn about breeds that have developed to survive hard work and Canadian winters.
This breed originates from horses that King Louis XIV of France sent in 1665. The original horses - of several breeds, like Belgian and Dales Pony - developed to have thick, dark coats; long, wavy manes; and tough hooves. These calm, intelligent animals can pull heavy loads, carry a rider, or even perform dressage or jumps.
After thousands of Canadian horses were sent to the United States to fight in their Civil War and serve as breeding stock, the federal government started a breeding program in 1913. By 2018, the population had reached about 6000. The Canadian horse was named Canada’s national horse in 2002 and a heritage breed of Quebec in 2010.
Canadian Rustic Pony
This sturdy, athletic breed was developed in Manitoba as a cross between the Arabian horse, Welsh Mountain Pony, and Heck horse. Canadian Rustic Ponies tend to be dun, bay, buckskin, or grey, often with a stripe along their spine or zebra stripes on their legs. These kind, trainable ponies are used as pets, pleasure horses, and show horses.
Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony
This compact, powerful breed - probably the only breed developed by Indigenous people in Canada - is likely a cross of the Spanish mustang and the Canadian horse. These gentle, forest-dwelling creatures have a solid-coloured coat of any colour except for white or cream; a thick mane; small, hairy ears; and tough hooves.
The Ojibwe of northwestern Ontario and northern Minnesota used these ponies for winter transportation, then let them loose in the summer. The ponies’ population diminished to 4 mares by 1977, but the population has gradually attained 150 individuals. Today, these ponies participate in equine therapy, Indigenous heritage programs, and tourism.
The friendly Newfoundland pony has its roots in ponies that settlers brought from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. These agile equines have a thick mane and winter coat; short, furry ears; hoods to protect their eyes; and low-lying tails to allow snow to slide off. Their hair is often brown, although it can also be other colours, and sometimes changes colour depending on the season.
Sadly, many Newfoundland ponies were sent to meat plants in the 1980s. Their current population is less than 400. In 1996, this breed was declared a Newfoundland heritage animal.
Sable Island Horse
These horses are famous for living on narrow Sable Island, off the Nova Scotian coast. They have dark, shaggy coats and long manes and tails. They were once domesticated but now live in small herds.
In 1960, there was a plan to turn the Sable Island horses into dog food until many children wrote to protest to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. There are currently about 500 Sable Island horses.
Did you learn about any new horse breeds? Let us know in the comments!
Hello, My name is Shelby Gatti, and I am the owner of Shelby Ranch. I love being able to share my passion for animals with you and your family. At Shelby Ranch you can expect a ton of family adventure from horseback riding to mechanical bull riding & axe throwing.