Dec. 3, 2021

A True Canadian Horse Breed


Burnbrae Farms recently embarked on a new adventure with the purchase of a team of purebred Canadian horses. The history and development of the Canadian horse is entwined with the evolution of the country itself, and I’m sure most are unaware that in 2002, it became our national horse breed !

The first horses came to Canadian soil from France in 1665. Two stallions and 12 mares came directly from the stud farm of King Louis XIV of France. Their descendants bred and populated New France for over 150 years without the addition of many other horses. There were as many as 24,000 in Quebec by 1784. The horses evolved over the years to be hardy and strong, having to survive the harsh Quebec winters.

They developed into a versatile breed, pulling ploughs, carriages and sleighs. They were ridden and raced. They were also quite attractive being dark bay, black or chestnut, of medium build with solid bones and feet and good temperaments and work ethic. Today the breed is known as the Little Iron Horse.

During the American Civil war, there was mass export of these horses into the United States. In 1895 the Canadian Horse Breeders Association was formed, and horses were registered. Although they had flourished in Quebec, with the advent of the tractor, populations were declining and reached a low of less than 400 by 1976. From 1913 to 1981 there were federal ministry of agriculture breeding programs in Quebec. According to The Livestock Conservancy , the numbers are now quite stable and there are currently about 2000 registered Canadians across the country.

In December 2020 Burnbrae Farms became the proud owner of Sargent and Tamara, two black Canadians who are full brother and sister. They are medium-sized, light draft horses with wavy manes and tails. They are well trained to work as a team pulling wagons in the summer or sleighs in the winter. Their busy, curious personalities take in everything happening at the barn especially when someone arrives with treats! They have had lots of time to assimilate into our herd of horses over the winter and spring of 2021. We look forward to many sleighrides this winter on the farm.

Canadian Horses, Fun Facts:

They weigh 400 to 450kg on average, or 900 to 1000 pounds

They range between 14 and 16 "hands" high at the withers, or 1.4 and 1.6 metres

They are long-lived, with a life span of 25 to 30 years