THE CHEVAL CANADIEN
The Cheval Canadien ("Canadian Horse" in French) descends from horses brought by French settlers to Acadia, near Nova Scotia and New France (Quebec) in the 17th Century. Additionally, French King, Louis XIV, sent over two stallions and about 30 mares from Normandy and Brittany, all of which traced their breeding to horses from Andalusia, Spain, La Perch, France (yes, the home of the original Percheron breed), and the Spanish Netherlands (home of the Friesian horse). To this day the Cheval Canadien owes its feathered legs and beautiful trot to the Dutch Friesian influence in the stables of Louis XIV.
The Cheval Canadien was an all-purpose breed that worked land, carried children, pulled carriages, and engaged in racing. By 1830 most of the trotting and coach horses in New England were of Cheval Canadien origin. Many of the Cheval Canadien horses were registered as Morgan, Sandardbred, and American Saddlebreds, and Tennessee Walking Horses and Missouri Foxtrotters have Cheval Canadien ancestors.
Today there are only about 2500 head for several reasons: 1) the deaths of large numbers of these horses during the Civil War, (2) more interest in heavy draft horses for farm work, and (3) the closing of the breeding operation by the Canadian government in 1940 because of World War II. The Cheval Canadien horses range in height from 14-16 hands, weighs 1000-1350 pounds, and are often black with wavy manes and tails. The Cheval Canadien is affectionately known as "the little iron horse."