The Story of the Canadian Horse
According to research, the Canadian horse
was introduced to New France in July of 1665. The first load of twelve
horses was sent by King Louis XIV. There is no record of the breed or
region of France from hence they came; some writings mentioned the Royal
Stud Farm, others that they were purchased by the Compagnie des Indes
occidentales. What is known for certain is that shipments arrived on a
The first ones were given to religious orders and to gentlemen who had an avid interest in agriculture. A notarized contract obliged the new owners to breed the animals, maintain them, and return a foal after three years to the Intendant. This foal was then entrusted to someone else who was then bound by the same conditions of care and reproduction. In case of breach of contract, there were provisions for fines of one hundred pounds. This very regimented breeding system allowed for their rapid development in the French colony. The myth of the Canadian horse being abused is unfounded. It would have been very difficult to neglect such a valuable work animal, as well, unfulfilled legal obligations were very costly.
In 1671, Intendant Talon wrote in his report to the King that it was no longer necessary to send shipments of horses since there were a sufficient number for trade.
From 1665 to 1793, the horse population in New France grew from 12 to 14,000 animals. To the end of the French regime in 1760, the horses sent from France are the only ones to be developed in the colony. Contact with the English to the South was forbidden because England and France were at war. The topography of the Appalachian mountains was also a formidable obstacle to outside communication. At that time there were no roads and the only means of long distance travel was by foot or by canoe.
For almost one hundred years, the horses multiplied in a closed environment without the benefit of other blood lines. Their common source, lack of cross breeding, and their rapid reproduction created a particular genetic group giving rise to a unique breed: the Canadian horse. Why Canadian? Because in 1867, the year of Canada's confederation, the generic term 'Canadien' solely referred to French speaking. At that time, it was natural for the horse, being originally from France and having started its spread through the French colonial area of the St. Lawrence Valley, to be named 'Canadian'.
Eight years later, in 1895, veterinarian Dr. J.A. Couture founded the Canadian Horse Breeders Association which still operates today. In 1999, the Quebec Government recognized the Canadian horse as part of its heritage. In 2002, the Federal Government followed suit giving it national recognition.
Dr. J.A. Couture set breeding standards for
the Canadian Horse. In 1895, the Canadian Horse Breeders Association was
J.A. COUTURE, V.S.
General Stock Breeders, Association
of the Province of Quebec.
Léger, Brousseau Printer
SCALE OF POINTS
The scale of points for Canadian horses is divided into eight parts or groups, seven of which correspond to the horse’s chief anatomical regions : the head ; the neck and shoulders; the body; the fore-quarter, the hind-quarter; the lower parts of the legs (with the exception of the foot); the foot. The eighth group consists of what is more specially considered by horsemen as the exterior: -the skin, weight, action, height. Finally the nervous system and general appearance are noted.
As so arranged, the scale can be easily understood and remembered by every horseman.
The greatest number of points (20) is alloted to the body. The body (chest, back loins, belly) is by far the most important region of the horse. It contains the chief organs of the circulation of the blood, those of respiration, digestion, nutrition, etc. If those organs have plenty of room, if they are well supported, they work perfectly and this condition is accompanied, by health, strength, vigor and endurance. Moreover the other parts will be in harmony with the body both as regards their development and their fitness. On the contrary, if the body is defective the remainder of the animal will be more or less so.
The quarters occupy the second place from the standpoint of the importance of the regions. We have alloted them 13 and 14 points respectively.
The fore-foot comes thirdly.”No foot, No horse,” says Youatt. Nothing can be truer. We have allotted 10 points for this.
Then comes the lower part of the legs and the hind foot to each of which 5 points are alloted. The other portions of the body are comparatively accessory.
The practical application of the scale is made easy by the fact that the points alloted to a region are distributed among the various parts constituting such regions. The only exception is in the case of the head.
J.A. COUTURE, D.V.S.
Secretary French Canadian Horse Breeders’ Association of Canada.
2pts Shape & carriage: - Square, that is
rather short and with straight lines everywhere; lean; carried rather
high and slanting.
Ears.- Not too close, thin, active, rather short.
Forehead and Face: - Broad and flat.
Eyes.-Wide apart; flush with the head; large; moderately convex; bright; and kind.
Eyelids.-Thin, wide apart, clean and mobile.
1pt Nostrils.- Large and wide apart.
Lips.-Thin, mobile, covered with delicate skin.
Mouth.- Rather samll.
1pt Lower jaw.-Wide apart and rather broad at the angle.
Cavity between the jaws.-Wide spread, lean and well-hollowed out.
Cheeks.- Well-developed, firm, but not fat.
Total points for this group : 4
Neck and Throat
1pt Throat.-Wide across; throatlatch slightly depressed.
4pts Neck.- Rather straight than arched; broad at lower and thin at upper edge; sides slightly rounded and firmly muscled; gracefully attached to the head and well fastened to the shoulders.
Total points for this group: 5
1pt Withers.- Lean, slightly raised and long.
4pts Back.- Strong, broad, straight, short.
4pts Loins.- Broad, short, strong, straight.
1pt Breast.- Broad, so that the horse’s legs are well apart; covered with well developed and projecting muscles.
7pts Chest.- Broad and deep, ribs long, broad, well apart and well arched.
3pts Belly.- Somewhat large but not pendulous; gradually rounding in with the curve of the ribs and flanks.
Total points for this group: 20
5pts Shoulder.- Long, sloping and well muscled.
1pt Arm and elbow.- Long, thick, covered with hard and projecting muscles; Arm moderately inclined. Elbow long, parallel to the axis of the body and at the same time apart from it.
2pts Fore Arm.- Descending as low as possible, broad, thick, perpendicular.
5pts Knee.- Lean, long, broad, thick, clean, perpendicular, not turned either out or in.
Total points for this group: 13
3pts Croup.- As long as possible, wide, slightly sloping; the point of
hip should project but slightly.
1pt Tail.- Large at the root, thick, attached rather high, with an abundance of fine and rather long hair.
5pts Buttock, Thigh, Stifle, Leg.- Buttock descending as near the hock as possible, firm, thick, well muscled. Thigh broad and thick. Stifle clean, close to belly, turned slightly outward. Leg long, wide, the tendon well separated from the bone, large and hard.
5pts Hock.- Clean, lean, wide, thick, parallel to the inclined plane of the body, not turned either in or out.
Total points for this group: 14
Lower Part of the Leg
Cannon.- Short, broad, thick, clean, lean, perpendicular. Tendons lean,
clean, firm, large and well detached.
Fetlock.- Broad, thick, lean, clean, slightly slanting.
Pastern.- Broad, thick, average length, moderately slanting; free from long hair.
For fore leg: 5 points
For hind leg: 5 points
Total points for this group: 10
10pts Front Foot.- Large, strong, as broad as long, resting squarely on
the ground, face line slightly inclined; height of heels one half that
of front face; heels widely spread, even, resting squarely on the
ground; sole hollow, thick; frog strong and rather hard.
5pts Hind Foot.- Should possess all the qualities indicated for the fore-foot, except that it is more oval in shape and the heels are higher and more spread.
Total points for this group: 15
1pt Skin.- Soft, pliant, mellow, loose; hair smooth.
Colour.- Any colour is acceptable.
1pt Height.- 14 - 16 hands (reviewed in 1991).
1pt Weight.- 1000 to 1400 lbs.
7pts Action.- Lively, brisk, rather long than high; hock, knee, fetlock and pastern bending easily.
Total points for this group: 10
Temperament and Nervous System
4pts - The animal must be of a docile temperament but full of vigour and
spirit without being nervous.
5pts - The animal must be graceful in carriage and demeanor as well as in symmetry of shape.
Grand total of points. 100
The CHBA is in the process of developing a
national program for the training of classifiers, and a classification
system for the consistent evaluation of the Canadian. As these programs
are developed, this web page will be updated.
The Canadian Horse Breeders Association has entrusted the Canadian
Livestock Records Corporation with the mandate to look after
registrations, transfers, genealogical follow-ups, and applications for
genotype DNA testing.
For more information, please contact Mrs. Mills at the following address:
Mrs. Laura Mills
Canadian Livestock Records Corporation
2417 Holly Lane
Web Site: www.clrc.ca
Tel.: (613) 731-7110 ext 314
Toll Free: 1-877-833-7110
Fax: (613) 731-0704
To check the genealogy of horses, consult the CHBA page on the CLRC website.
What's in a name
You can tell a lot about a Canadian Horse just from its name. Each name contains three parts which must be included in the following order - the herd name, the sire's name and the horse's given name.
The Herd Name
Canadian Horse breeders register a herd name with the Canadian Horse
Breeders Association to use when naming all foals born to mares they
own or lease. This herd name must be unique as it identifies your breeding
program from all other breeders of Canadian horses. This herd name may
be your farm name, your last name or any unique name that has not
already been registered. This name can also be a compound name.
The same herd name in two horse’s name does not necessarily mean that both horses are related to each other, for example: “Maple Lane Thomy Ellie” and “Maple Lane Duc Athena” are not related at all, but “Maple Lane” (herd name) means that both mares were owned or leased by the same individual/farm at the time they were bred.
The Common Sire’s Name
The sire's name is the second portion of the horse’s full registered name. For example: “Maple Lane Rebel Windsor” and “Maple Lane Rebel Sally Ann” were both sired by the same stallion “Maple Lane Duc Midnite Rebel”.
The Horse’s Given Name
The horses given name forms the last part of its full registered name. For example: “Maple Lane Thunder Boy Legacy” where “Legacy” is the given name, which must start with the letter of the alphabet assigned to the year when the foal was born.
Assignment of Letters
A different letter of the alphabet is
assigned to each year and foal's name must start with the assigned
letter of the year the foal is born. For example, the letter 'S' was
assigned for 2006, the letter 'T' for 2007 and the letter 'U' for 2008.
The next letter in the alphabet is used the following year.
This naming procedure has been enforced in recent years, but that has not always been the case. Many older horses do not have names beginning with the letter assigned to the year of their birth.
Conditions and RestrictionsAt the time of registration the herd name must be the one of the owner or leaser of the mare at the time the breeding took place.
All stallion’s given name must be unique. This is to ensure that when looking at a horses name there will be no confusion on who sired the horse in question. Multiple geldings and /or mares can have the same given name as long as the combination of herd name and stallion name is different for every identical given name. This is possible as their names are not used in future genealogical reference to any offspring.
Once the year letter comes around again and an owner wishes to register a stallion with a given name that has already been used, said name must be followed by a 2nd, 3rd, etc…
The subject must be: for a stallion, the only one registered with said name and for a mare or gelding, the only one registered with said complete name.
There is also a length limitation for the full registered name of a horse. It cannot exceed 30 characters including spaces. Care must be taken not to choose too lengthy a herd or stallion name given the 30 character limit which includes the alloted number of available characters for the new given name of a foal.
Future Letter Assignments