Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Horses > 6 Canadian Horse Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

6 Canadian Horse Breeds: Pictures, Facts & History

Sable island wild horses grazing

If we take a journey all the way back to 1665, you’d discover a shipload of horses sent over to Canada from France. King Louis XIV sent these equines to assist the settlement of New France. Since their arrival, Canada has developed five breeds in their home country.

Over time, original horse breeds brought to Canada were mixed together and solidified, creating new individual breeds. Throughout Canadian history, horses have helped to maintain plantations and farms, transport people and their goods, and perform hard labor.


The 6 Canadian Horse Breeds

1. Canadian Rustic Pony

The Canadian Rustic Pony is a capable little cutie developed from the Heck horse, Welsh pony, and Arabian horse. It primarily thrived in western places like Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but eventually, they spread over a much larger area.

Physical Qualities

These ponies stand about 12 to 13 hands high. Because of their wild origin, they can have exotic traits, like stripes and raised manes. The body structure is thick and muscular but not bulky. Canadian Rustic Ponies can be buckskin, gray, dun, or bay.


Even though they are ponies, they have incredibly agreeable personalities. They mesh well with other creatures and humans, too. They are usually bonded with owners and form strong relationships with them. Because the Rustic Pony is gentle, it would be a terrific breed choice for children.


Canadian Rustic Ponies usually complete in jumping if they are trained for a specific task. But they’re traditionally companion horses for people instead, used for casual riding.

2. Canadian Horse

Canadian horses_Shutterstock_meunierd
Image By: meunierd, Shutterstock

The epitome of strength and sophistication, the Canadian horse has quite a profound history. After establishing the breed, these equines spread throughout the northern US along the border. Even though they were almost wiped out after the wars, they thrive today—but are still on the endangered list.

Physical Qualities

Canadian horses typically stand between 14 and 17 hands high. These horses are toned and solid with a steady gait. Classically, Canadian horses generally have dark coloring—some are brown, bay, or black. However, they can sometimes carry a gray gene.


Canadian horses form substantial bonds with humans, wanting lots of attention and interaction. Because of their intelligence and willingness to work, they train exceptionally well. Their adaptable and happy-go-lucky attitudes make them popular choices among owners.


These horses are Jacks of all Trades, dabbling in just about every area of equine expertise. They are extremely valuable for owners because of their versatility and temperament.

3. Lac La Croix Indian Pony

The Lac La Croix Indian Pony has an incredibly cool backstory. These semi-feral horses were developed by the Ojibwe tribe in southern Canada. In the 70s, these ponies almost fizzled out—so breeders crossed the remaining mares with Spanish Mustangs. They are still considered critically endangered today.

Physical Qualities

The Lac La Croix is usually 12 to 14 hands high with a solid muscle structure. Since they are somewhat feral, they hold up extremely well in the elements, making them hardy and resilient. These ponies come in a wide selection of solid colors except for white or cream.


These ponies have a gentle, easy-going demeanor. Though they roam freely sometimes, they aren’t particularly skittish or sassy.


It’s fascinating that these ponies are considered a spirit totem by the Ojibwe people today. They are often used in programs that teach young indigenous children along with tourists about the tribal heritage.

4. Newfoundland Pony

Newfoundland pony, as the name implies, originated in Newfoundland, Canada. This breed has influences from Scottish, English, and Irish ponies.

Physical Qualities

Newfoundland ponies are only approximately 11 to 12 hands tall. So they are definitely on the tinier end of the pony spectrum. They are extremely physically hearty, holding up well under all kinds of climate changes, and weather.

These ponies can come in the best selection of colors. However, the most common colors are brown, bay, or black. But they can also have white, dun, gray, chestnut, or roan.


Newfoundland ponies are extremely people-friendly, which makes them incredible pets for children and anyone who loves horses. They accept people into their tribe. They’re not nervous or irritable and their even personalities make them trustworthy companions.


In the past, these ponies were used for draft and work purposes. After modern advancements, these ponies were often sent to slaughterhouses because nobody needed them anymore. However, after the 70s, breeders started to revamp the breed back to its original glory.

While they are still considered endangered today, your numbers have remained steady over the past 10 years.

5. Sable Island Horse

Roaming free in Nova Scotia, the beautiful Sable Island horse lives among nature. These semi-feral horses have solidified in looks in temperament over the years. Their structure allows them to live in natural elements without repercussion, being resilient and tough.

Physical Qualities

The Sable Island horse is stocky and capable, standing between 13 and 14 hands high. When they are raised in captivity, they tend to be larger than they are in the wild. These horses are usually palomino, chestnut, and black. Some can have white markings, but it is rare.


Sable Island horses are dependable, thoughtful, and moderately paced. They tend to coexist peacefully with other creatures, too. They don’t have any natural predators, so there is no need for a prey mentality.


These horses are incredibly hardy. They work well with trainers and make excellent carriage horses. Although, most of these lovely equines are roaming the plains without a plan.

6. Canadian Pacer

The Canadian Pacer has incredibly close ties with the Canadian horse today. It is a combination of the Canadian horse and the Narragansett Pacer bred to cover ground more quickly. They never developed into a common breed but are still around today.

Physical Qualities

Canadian Pacers stand roughly 14 to 15 hands high with light, toned bodies. Their coats can be black, chestnut, bay, or pinto.


These horses are incredibly energetic, always curiously ready for action. They are agreeable for trainers, so you can teach them with ease. Many owners would describe these horses as motivated and free-spirited.


Today, you can find Canadian Pacers in races or pleasure riding. Since they are rare, you might not see them often—but they’re a lovely sight to behold if you do.

horse shoe divider

Final Thoughts

Canada has developed some interesting breeds that are still completely relevant in the equine world today. Whether you spot them leisurely trotting or spot one roaming free, these breeds are majestic and regal, indeed.

It’s nice to know that even though countries don’t need horses for strenuous labor anymore, advocating breeders still protects the breed’s authenticity. Which one of these Canadian cuties was your favorite horse or pony of all?

Related Reads:

Featured Image: Julie Marshall, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets