A Rumsey horse breeder is bringing awareness to a steed that is not well-known, even in its country of origin.
The Canadian helped build the country of its namesake. The Canadian descended from breeding stock sent to what would become Canada in 1665 by Louis XIV. These horses were to be distributed among the elite military officers, government officials and clergy of the colony of New France, and to develop a breeding program in New France.
These horses became the backbone of those settling, and the historic traits of an even temperament, heavy bones and hooves of steel were the traits that attracted the horse to Karen Anderson of Diamond A Canadians. She acquired her first Canadian in 2000, in search of a perfect family horse. She fell in love.
“They are wonderful horses, they do whatever you want them to do,” said Anderson, who many may have seen at the Canada Day Parade on her mount Jewel dressed as a dinosaur.
The horses are considered a light draft breed and their standard is 14-16 hands. They are known for their soundness, hardiness and endurance. While many are bred for driving, they are used in a number of disciplines. Anderson says because of their strength, endurance, solid feet and temperament they are often used for trail riding and as a family horse.
Anderson says while there is 4,000-5,000 registered today, that was not always the case, and throughout their history they faced extinction a couple times.
During the American Civil War, thousands were exported to the United States to be used as breeding stock and as roadsters. Because the bloodlines were not maintained it is possible the Canadian may have contributed to some of the new world American Breeds such as the Tennessee Walker, Standardbred and Morgan. In 1886, in order to preserve the breed, the first registry for the horse was opened.
The horse faced dwindling numbers again in the 1960’s and 70’s. Private breeders stepped in where the national breeding programs and a breeding program of the Quebec government were discontinued and the horse has made a comeback. Anderson says there are about 10 breeders in Alberta. In 2002, they were recognized as an official symbol of Canada.
Her stable is doing well in shows. Her mare Rose won the Grand Champion Halter Mare at the Annual CHARMD Show just last month, and Anderson and Jewel have been placing well a three-day eventing.
This year she is part of a team entering the Battle of the Breeds at Spruce Meadows during the masters in September.
There are four horses on a team at the Battle of the Breeds and they are put through the paces including dressage, driving, barrel racing, a trail class and jumping. They have competed before, and she says it was a learning experience. They are already making preparations for this year’s show.