Canada’s national horse brought back from edge of extinction

·2 min read

Alongside Canada’s national flower, sport, symbol and bird, is a national animal that is often forgotten. Canada’s national horse, Le Cheval Canadien, is in danger of disappearing. An Uxbridge equestrian centre, however, is dedicated to the revival of this special breed.

Hundreds of years ago, in about 1665, King Louis XIV of France began shipping mares and stallions, with bloodlines from the King’s Royal Stud, to Acadia and New France. These horses had great abilities to adapt to harsh climates (like Canada’s cold winters), rough terrains and were easily trained. They became known as the Canadian Horse, or Le Cheval Canadien. While the breed was well known to American colonists, it is rather rare today. After being used in the American Civil War and for breeding to diversify genetics in American stock, but its popularity in Canada waned. Despite this, however, and despite the fact that the horse was smaller in size and often thought of as the “Quebec pony,” the Canadian Horse was declared by the Parliament of Canada to be the National Horse of Canada in 1909.

In 2018, Barb Malcom, owner and head coach of Churchill Chimes Equestrian Centre on Webb Rd., committed to doing her part to save the Canadian Horse. Alongside her riding school, Malcolm set up a sister company called Donalf Farms, specifically to breed the Canadian horses in an attempt to bring back the name and the breed.

“I had worked as a professional for over 20 years and just happened to buy an unpapered Canadian gelding. He is one of the most darling horses I’ve ever had,” says Malcom.

Very soon Malcom fell in love with the breed.

“They are durable, willing, personable and versatile. I went from being a “crossbreed person” to being completely wowed by this purebred.”

“It’s one thing for Canadians not to know Canada has a national horse, but for horse people not to know, it just shows how much the breed is in trouble,” says Malcom.

If it weren’t for a pandemic, this year Malcom had plans to contact Heritage Canada and rally for government assistance in the fight for the Canadian Horse.

“We would love to see federal support,” says Malcom. “It really is an altruistic endeavour, but they're worth it.”

Malcolm dreams of one day having all the horses in her riding school be Canadian Horses.

“They are so little known, but absolutely remarkable,” says Malcolm.

For more information about the national horse of Canada, visit lechevalcanadien.com or find Malcom’s breeding farm at donalffarms.com

Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos