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The Canadian horse is a horse breed from Canada. It is a strong, well-muscled breed of horse, usually dark in colour. The horses are generally used for riding and driving. Descended from draft and light riding horses imported to Canada in the late 1600s, it was later crossed with other British and American breeds. During the 18th century the Canadian horse spread throughout the northeastern US, where it contributed to the development of several horse breeds. During the peak popularity of the breed, three subtypes could be distinguished, a draft horse type, a trotting type and a pacing type. Thousands of horses were exported in the 19th century, many of whom were subsequently killed while acting as cavalry horses in the American Civil War. These exports decreased the purebred Canadian population almost to the point of extinction, prompting the formation of a studbook and the passage of a law against further export. Experimental breeding programs in the early 20th century succeeded in re-establishing the breed to some extent, but mechanization, combined with two world wars, again resulted in the breed almost heading towards extinct. In the 1980s, concerned with the declining population numbers, interested breeders undertook a promotional program, which resulted in renewed interest in the breed. By the 1990s, population numbers were higher, and genetic studies in 1998 and 2012 found relatively high levels of genetic diversity for a small breed. However, livestock conservation organizations still consider the breed to be at risk, due to low population numbers. Most Canadian Horses are dark coloured: black, bay, or brown. A few chestnuts are found, occasionally with flaxen manes and tails, and the cream gene appears in the breed as the result of the genetic influence of one stallion. While some sources state that the gene for gray is no longer found in the breed, after the genetic bottleneck of the late 20th century, the preservation society for the breed states that they can be "rarely grey". Their height averages 14 to 16 hands (56 to 64 inches, 142 to 163 cm) and stallions average 1,050 to 1,350 pounds (480 to 610 kg) in weight, while mares weigh 1,000 to 1,250 pounds (450 to 570 kg). The Canadian horse has a rather short, high-set head with a broad forehead. The neck is arched and graceful, and the chest, back and loins broad and strongly muscled. The shoulders and croup are sloping, with a relatively high-set tail. Overall, the breed gives the impression of strength and agility. Their heavy and wavy mane and tail, arched necks and finely boned heads are all reminiscent of Andalusian and Barb ancestry. Their trot is described as flashy. They are hardy horses and easy keepers. Today, most Canadian horses are used as riding and driving horses, and are known for their jumping ability. They are seen in competition in almost every discipline, as well as for leisure riding. They can also be found in light draft work, trail riding, and working as a stock horse.


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