Cherry Creek Canadians

Specializing in Heritage Canadian Breeds

So you're looking to buy a Canadian Horse...

Somewhat like buying a car, looking for the "perfect" Canadian Horse can sometimes be an daunting experience...

The following are some tips and suggestions that we would like to offer to those who are looking for a Canadian Horse of their own.

Having traveled across Canada several times looking at many different horses at many different farms in many different locations, and in having looked hard and long while selecting our own horses, as well as being involved in the breeding side of the business for over 20 years now, we have found the following suggestions to be important and/or helpful to ourselves. Our hope is that by listing these, they might be of benefit to others. Please note, these are our own personal observations and suggestions, and may not reflect the opinions of others.

For ease of browsing, we have laid them out in a FAQ (frequently asked questions) format.


"What about registration papers? "

  • Sadly, we have had to move this one to the top because it is becoming such an important and problematic issue for the breed!
  • When you buy a purebred, registered Canadian Horse, it is the SELLERS responsibility to look after doing all the paperwork and costs for doing related to this transfer. This is according to Canadian Law and the Livestock Pedigree act. To not do so is illegal, enforcable by the RCMP and is and is punishable by law with a significant fine of up to fifty thousand dollars.
  • To lessen the cost for the seller to do the registration or transfer of ownership, it does help if the buyer becomes a member of the Canadian Horse Breeders Association so you may want to consider doing that, and advising the seller that you have done so. The information on membership can be found here and fee schedule here
  • Over and over again we are hearing tales of seller's not doing due diligence with registrations/transfers and either just don't bother period, or else tell the buyers it is their responsibility. This is NOT the case and we need to stop this from happening and to make the seller's accountable! If you are not provided with your registration papers in a timely fashion after you have purchased your horse, please report the sellers to the CHBA, the CLRC and the Canadian Department of Agriculture.
  • The cost to register previously unregistered mature horses can be horribly expensive.  Keep this in mind if you are looking at buying an unregistered but purebred horse. The cost for registering a foal is quite reasonable ($100) however the cost rises exponentially after the foal is a year old ($170). Once a horse is 3, the cost is very expensive! ($300).  Although this may not seem all that expensive, keep in mind that the cost for dna typing and ALL transfer costs (see below) need to be added to this. So, registering a previously unregistered, mature (>3yrs old) horse that has changed hands multiple times, can be prohibitively expensive and cost in the many hundreds or possibly even thousands of dollars! See CLRC fees.
  • Keep in mind that if you purchase a horse who has changed hands several times and these transfers of ownership have not been recorded and paid for each time the horse was sold, the payment for each/ALL of these past transfers will be will be due when you go to register your horse, and YOU will have to pay for this!  Always make sure that the paperwork on any horse that you are considering buying is current and up to date.  If this is not the case, it is a sign that the seller is either ignorant of the process and Canadian Law, or simply does not care.  Neither is acceptable!
  • There are strict timelines regarding registration transfers.  All transfers of registration should be completed and received back by you the purcaser, within 60 days of sale.  After this time the cost to do so, increases significantly.  If you do not receive your horse's registration papers within a month or so of purchase, contact the seller to ensure that this is done!
  • If you have any doubt that the seller may not follow through with transferring the horses registration, you are best off to take the horse's registration papers with you when you pick up your horse. These must be signed on the back by the seller, who should also reimuburse you with the cost of registration transfer as well.  This you at least have the paperwork in hand and can submit these yourself to the CLRC.  If you do it this way, do be sure to indicate that you have purchased the horse and that you are looking after the transfer of registration, and that the newly issued papers are to be sent to YOU. By default, in circumstances such as these, the transferred papers may be sent back to the seller!
  • If you buy a horse and don't care if it is registered or not, please do NOT advise the seller that you don't want the papers. It is incumbent on the seller to provide them!!!  And if the seller does not transfer the papers for the horse, in good faith, it is contingent on you as a good owner and breed steward to follow up with doing this.  Although your intent is that you will keep your horse forever so the papers "don't matter", often life gets in the way and the horse needs to change hands down the road. When this happens, inevitably, the next buyer WILL want them! Of recent, and all too often, we are seeing wonderful, well bred, purebred horses whose owners have not "bothered" with doing the paperwork, now being considered to be grade horses and ending up at auctions going for meat.
  • Not transferring or registering any purebred Canadian Horse is irresponsible, unconscionable, and totally unacceptable!!!! This problem is SO rampant in the breed at present, there is a good chance that up to approximately 1/3 of the horses in the ENTIRE breed have been lost to the breed registry because of this.  This problem is totally out of control and needs to be stopped!!!

"I am a novice and I want to buy a Canadian Horse as I have heard they are perfect for a beginner.


"I have heard that they are ALL quiet and so any Canadian Horse should do for me."

  • First and foremost, the cardinal rule. If you are a novice horse person, always bring an experienced horseperson with you, to go horse shopping!
  • Especially if you are a novice with horses, be sure to go to a reputable breeder/seller. Have them show you more mature horses, that have had some training, and that ARE quiet (not all Canadians are!).
  • If you are a novice, please do not go out and buy the first Canadian you see (especially if just a young untrained horse). Almost inevitably, it will be too much horse for you. Sadly, and all too many times now, we have heard from novices who tell us, "I bought this nice, supposedly quiet and kind young Canadian as my very first horse, however it has turned out to be too big and strong for me, and now I can't do anything with it. I am intimidated by it, so it is just sitting there out in the field. What should I do?".
  • These horses are too costly, and too rare to just become a "pasture ornament". There are already far too many Canadians out there in this situation due to novice horse owners buying them, assuming that they will be "easy", getting no help or professional experience and finding themselves totally  overwhelmed.
  • If you are a novice, please save yourself (and the breed) a lot of heartache and expense, get help, and be sure to buy a horse of appropriate size, age and training for yourself.

"Where should I go, and what sort of horse should I get? "

  • If you go to a reputable breeder or seller, they will do their best to match you with a horse best suited to your ability. They pride themselves on not selling you just anything in order to "make a quick sale". If a horse is not suited for you, a reputable breeder/seller will tell you this, and will refuse to sell you the horse, or will only sell it if certain conditions are met (eg that you promise to get expert assistance). Don't be insulted by this, but rather take it as a sign that this is an honest individual to deal with, and one who truly has your best interests at heart. Instead of being discouraged by this, use it your advantage. If that particular individual doesn't have anything to suit you, they may be willing to help you to find something that is more suitable to meet your needs elsewhere.
  • Be open and flexible to horses of different colors, size or sex. Try to find the horse that is best suited for you, as opposed to looking for something that is your perceived ideal.

"I am looking for a well trained gelding, "bomb-proof", 15.2 - 16 hh, 4 - 6 years old, and black of course!"

  • First and foremost, it is important to keep in mind that the Canadian Horse is a rare breed. As such, there are only about 2000 registered geldings in the ENTIRE breed. This greatly limits their availability, as well what there is to choose from.
  • Right now trained Canadian Horses generally are in short supply, especially in western Canada and the USA. This is due in part to the significant slow down in breeding associated with the poor economy since 2008, and also because of the geographical distance from Quebec, where the majority of Canadian Horses are still located.
  • You'll likely find that once a good Canadian Horse joins a family and has received any sort of training, usually they don't ever tend to leave again. Thus finding good quality, well trained horses without "baggage" can sometimes be quite difficult. Realize that many of the inexpensive Canadian Horses listed on various Buy and Sell sites, Kijiji etc, often fit in this category of having "baggage". If the horse is being sold cheap, that is because it undoubtedley DOES have a problem, and likely a signficant one! Do not get suckered into buying a horse like this until you have investigated it thoroughly, and have obtained a honest description of the horse's faults from the seller. Horses like this sadly quite frequently are now coming up on these types of sites, and they are definitely real "project" horses and should only be taken on if you are an expert! A good quality, well trained Canadian without issues, will never be sold cheap.
  • Given these factors, finding a well trained, mature, uncomplicated Canadian to meet very specific criteria (e.g. that noted above) may often be nearly impossible. We like to tell prospective buyers that if they really want to get a Canadian Horse, it is important to leave themselves open to any and all options including age, sex and color as well as location.
  • To truly open up your options for horse availability, and ONLY if you are experienced enough, you may want to consider either purchasing a youngster or breeding your own.  Consider leasing a mare and having her bred (see "Breeding your mare" page). This way you can bring the youngster up yourself to ensure it gets a good start and supervised training. Of course it goes without saying that you would have to be sure to get additional help and training as needed.

What size of horse should I buy? I think I want one at least 16hh!

  • Many of our inquiries come from individuals requesting a "16 hh or preferably bigger Canadian". It is important to remember that the breed standard is 14 - 16 hh. Given this, the "average" size of Canadian Horse is about 15 hh. Horses at the upper end of the scale, or outside of the breed standard, are the exception rather than the rule. Please keep in mind that deliberately looking for horses outside of the breed standard, does the breed's integrity no good whatsoever.
  • People often call us saying "I am tall and I previously rode a 16 hh TB, so I need a Canadian Horse the same size so it will fit me". It is important to remember that the Canadian is a very large bodied and strong horse. Given this, riding a sturdy Canadian of the same height will be a very different ride than a light horse breed of the same height. These horses are MUCH stronger, plus there is a lot more weight and body to move forward and to hold together (e.g. at the canter).
    For example, our 15.1 hh pure Canadians are much stronger, bigger bodied and WAY "more horse" to ride and hold together, than our 16.2 hh TB/Cdn cross!
  • Remember to take into consideration that Canadians tend to be very slow maturing, and as such they may not have the most exceptional balance or athleticism as youngster. If you do not have the expertise to carefully and gradually bring along a young unbalanced horse undergoing a major growth spree, you may find out that by buying too large of a horse, you have gotten far more than you ever bargained for!
  • For centuries, this breed was selectively bred for driving, not for riding. Thus they tend to have an excellent, ground covering trot, but (in some individuals) a weak canter that needs considerable work to develop. The larger the horse tends to be, often the less naturally well balanced they tend to be, and accordingly, some may find the canter very difficult. So, unless you are an experienced horse person who can patiently help the horse to gradually mature, balance and develop the canter, you may find this to be a problematic trait in some Canadian Horses.
  • Also, last but not least, keep in mind that the sheer size and bulk of some of the larger horses may make them less suitable for disciplines requiring stamina or endurance. Basically their less efficient type of movement and heavy body mass can result in a diminished ability to dissipate heat.

When I go to the breeder or seller's farm, what do I look for?

  • First and foremost, before ever going to the farm, do your research first. Consider (and ask) the following:
    1. Is the breeder reputable, and how do I determine this?
      Ask around. Check the internet, ask or check the archives of the various Canadian Horse internet groups. Unless the breeder/seller is reputable, there may be no point in even going to that farm.
    2. Is the breeder/seller highly recommended by others?
      Good word of mouth is one of your most valuable tools when looking for a horse.
    3. Is the breeder/seller willing to provide references?
      Any reputable/caring breeder should gladly supply you with names of people who have bought horses from them in the past.
    4. When you contact the references, are they happy with the horses that they bought?
      Good references ARE important since this is a long term and expensive investment that you will be making when you purchase your horse.
  • If at all possible, go to the farm in person. Buying a horse over the internet or sight unseen can be very difficult and fraught with potential problems.
  • When you are actually on the seller's farm, you should look carefully at the following:
    1. What is the general state of the farm?
      Are things run down and in disrepair? If so, this may be indicative of the care given to the horses as well.
    2. Does the horse appear to be well cared for?
      Does it have a shiny coat and look healthy?
      Are there dapples on it's coat?

      These are all good signs, and are indicative of good care being given
    3. What is the horse's weight like?
      Is the horse a good weight?  Or is it grossly obese? Obesity is often rampant in the breed and is a sign of careless management (allowing too liberal of feeding or free choice grazing) and insufficient exercise/fitness. A horse being too fat is a signficant issue as it may hide some conformational flaws, and also makes the horse much more prone to problems like founder or Insulin Resistance.
      Or is the horse thin with ribs showing?
      This is VERY unusual in the Canadian Horse and may be indicative of illness, poor feeding, bad teeth, having worms, and/or just general poor care.  Be very cautious when considering buying a horse like this.
      Remember that Canadians tend to be very "easy keeping" horses, and thus their appearance should be judged accordingly.
    4. What is the condition of the horse's feet?
      Just because Canadian Horses have a reputation for having excellent quality feet, doesn't mean that routine foot care should be neglected. Are the feet neatly trimmed and/or shod, or are they chipped, overlong, splayed out or covered with rings? Often the state of the feet is a good reflection on how the rest of the horse has been cared for. Remember the old adage: "no hoof, no horse".
    5. Can you pick up its feet?
      Do not simply assume that this can be done - we have heard of several situations where someone has bought a horse only to get it home and find out they can't pick up its feet. Be sure to pick up all four of the horse's feet or to make sure that the seller demonstrates this for you. You should be able to pick up any horse's feet - even if it is a youngster. There is absolutely NO excuse for an adult horse not being able to pick up its feet! This indicates a lack of handling and basic ground manners.
    6. Has the horse received the minimum in basic health care?
      This is VERY IMPORTANT!!! Has it been vaccinated and wormed routinely? Horses which have not been wormed routinely, may suffer irreparable damage to their digestive tracts and could be more prone to digestive ailments (such as colic). Have the breeder/seller show you the documentation to prove that this has indeed been done.
      [Author's note: Sadly, over the years we have heard stories of horses purchased from poorly run farms where no health care whatsoever has been done. This lack of care, particularly with regards to routine worming has resulted in the horses suffering repeated episodes of colic, and ultimately in the death of the horses, due to severe, irreparable parasite damage done to the intestines.]
    7. How many horses are there on the farm?
      It has been our experience that with smaller farms with fewer horses, the breeder often has more time to devote to each individual horse. This ensures that each horse has been well cared for, handled and socialized. The following article is an excellent review of this type of situation: Backyard vs Boutique
    8. Before considering buying any horse, be sure that it is well socialized to people (and other horses), and that it has received the basics in handling and ground manners.
    9. How much handling has the horse received?
      A fully grown and very green Canadian which has not been handled much, is NOT a good choice for an inexperienced horse person! These are very intelligent and physically strong horses which often will "test" their owner to see where they fit into in the farm hierarchy. They can be very "alpha" if you let them, and trust us, they WILL try to take advantage of you if they can!
      Canadian Horses which have received proper handling and socialization tend to be kind natured and easy to handle. Horses which have not been handled or which have been abused may be less than "willing", occasionally downright stubborn, and in worse case scenario, even aggressive if they sense their handler to be a "pushover" or submissive or frightened of them.
    10. What is the horse's nature or temperament like?
      Canadian Horses are renowned for their good natures and sociable tendencies. Most Canadians are very "in your face" horses and just love to visit and be with people. Is the horse friendly and wanting to visit, or pushy and ill mannered, or timid and running away? If they demostrate the latter, be very cautious as this is unusual and may be a sign of a lack of or poor handling.
      Watch carefully for signs of the aggressive and threatening behaviors such as the horse laying its ears flat back against its head, or one which turns its hindquarters towards you in a threatening manner when you approach. Walk (or run!) away from these ones!
    11. How does the horse act around people?
      Is it well behaved and does it have good ground manners, or is it pushy, aggressive or ill behaved?

      Canadians do tend to be "in your face" horses which love to be right next you at all times, so if not treated with some firmness, consistency, and taught to respect their handler's space, they can also be right on top of you, and even shoving you around if allowed to do so. If the horse that you are looking at has been allowed to act in an aggressive and pushy manner, it may is best to avoid it as this is a very hard trait to correct (especially for an inexperienced or novice horse-person). Keep in mind that if this behaviour is allowed to go unchecked long enough, the horse may actually even become dangerous. It is the breeder's responsibility to be handling the horse and teaching it good manners and respect from an early age. You should never have to do this after you have purchased the horse!
    12. Does the horse seem to be calm and relaxed or is it nervous and jumpy?
      The Canadian breed is famed for its very quiet nature and willingness to accept new situations calmly and willingly, however not all Canadians are like this. If the horse is spooky or nervous, this may be indicative of inadequate handling, poor eyesight or just the nature of that particular animal. When looking at a horse to buy, expose it to a new situation - make a sudden move or roll something around on the ground in front of it. Take your jacket off and allow it to flap around a bit. Does the horse act inquisitive and interested, or does it just bolt away in fear or even worse kick out at the object. If it does the latter, it may indicate that this particular horse is not the best choice if you are looking for a calm horse with a quiet temperament and a trusting and accepting nature.
    13. How does the horse move?
      Watch the horse move at liberty and in work. In our experience, Canadian Horses seem to have differing types of movement.
      The carriage type seems to have a higher knee action, and a good ground covering trot with lots of animation. However occasionally they may have a short strided and perhaps less than desirable or even non-existent canter. The riding type tends to have a lower knee action, a good trot, and most importantly, a good balanced canter with a natural ability to do correct canter leads.
      Observe the horse carefully at liberty to be sure that it does not have a tendency to counter-canter or go disunited as these are hard traits to try to fix. Ideally you want one that naturally goes on the correct leads and which can easily do correct flying lead changes when at liberty.
      Pay careful attention to assure that the horse that you are looking at, is able to move in a fashion that is suitable for what you want to do with it. Not all Canadians are suited for all disciplines.
    14. Is the horse sound?
      As a rule, Canadian Horses are well known for their sturdiness and soundness. Does the horse travel properly with no sign of soreness, or does it look "off"? Does it have straight, well aligned legs?  Does it have any unusual looking lumps or bumps or swellings in the joints?  If in doubt, be certain have the horse vet checked for soundness before purchasing (in fact this is a good idea to do with all potential purchases, anyway).
    15. What sort of training is the horse being sold with?
      Is the seller able to demonstrate that the horse can do what is claimed?

      Be sure to have the seller demonstrate that the horse is actually capable of doing what was stated. Any horse being sold (be it a youngster or an adult) should have at the very minimum, basic halter training, should be able to pick up its feet, and load into a trailer. It should be able to be caught, haltered and be able to lead well (e.g. not pulling on you or conversely, needing to be dragged around). If it is supposedly "broke to ride" or drive, ensure that someone is actually able to demonstrate with the horse that this is indeed the case. Don't just take them at their word.
    16. Ask the breeder/seller what they do with their horse(s)?
      In some cases, there are breeders who only breed their horses and never actually use them. In our opinion, this is not an ideal situation...
      So, when horse shopping, ALWAYS be sure to ask the breeder how they use their own horses. If they do not use them, ask why?  If they never use them, be aware that this particular individual may not be all that objective or realistic about their horse's abilities. They may not actually be able to recognize good (or not) movement. Nor will they really know if their horse has the aptitude to do the disciplines that they are claiming. Also, if they do not use their horses, there is a very good likelihood that the horse has received very little basic care or handling and training, even if they may be advertised otherwise.  See: Backyard vs Boutique

How much does a Canadian Horse cost?

  • Again, keep in mind that this is a rare horse breed which is not readily available just anywhere. The cost of a Canadian will likely be more than with other horse breeds but as with anything good, usually "you get what you pay for".
  • The cost does tend to vary depending on where you are situated, the age of the horse, the amount of training that it has, the bloodlines, the breeder, and the sex. In times past, geldings used to cost less than breeding stock, however given their general unavailability now, a trained gelding is often the same price or even more now.
  • Where you are located geographically also makes a huge difference in the price. The greatest population and availability of Canadians still remains in Quebec, so they tend to cost less there. In western Canada or through most of the USA, there are fewer horses available. In some cases, a considerable cost may have been incurred in having had horses shipped to these areas. As well, the cost of raising horses is considerably higher in some areas due to increased feed costs etc. Accordingly, this tends to make the prices of horses in these areas higher.
  • In most cases, the cost of getting the horse on the ground as a foal, as well as its horse's training and breeding reflects the price being asked for them. However unfortunately in other cases, it simply does not. Before buying a horse from any one particular seller, do be sure to check around with other breeders/sellers to ensure that what you are thinking of paying, is indeed a fair price for the horse that you are planning to buy!
  • With the poor horse economy of late, you may find cases of very low prices being asked for Canadians, or those in need of "rescue". Ensure that these situations are legitimate , as opposed to an owner simply trying to "dump" a problem horse with major issues on an unsuspecting, kind hearted person.
  • Always buy your Canadian Horse outright. Avoid part-ownership or partnership deals where you own the horse jointly with someone else. Unfortunately we have heard way too many horror stories of deals such as this going sour!
  • If you are really committed to the breed and in buying a Canadian Horse, but don't have the money needed outright, you can always try inquring with the breeder/seller regarding whether or not they might take payments. Many breeders, if they know their horses will be going to a wonderful and caring home, are quite receptive to trying to make a sale like this work, in any way that they can. If you do come up with a payment plan such as this, ensure that a contract is drawn up with all expectations, payment schedules etc clearly laid out. Because "crap happens" in life, we also would recommend that the horse be insured in such situations. This prevents major misunderstandings should an unfortunate event occur. The seller should be made the beneficiary until the horse is paid for in full, at which time the policy reverts over to the buyer.
  • If you buy a Canadian Horse, as always, Caveat Emptor ("buyer beware") applies. Be sure to do your research and always make sure to shop around first, before you commit yourself to this long term and expensive investment.
    In the end, when you have your very own perfect Canadian, you won't regret the time that you spent doing your homework in the beginning!
  • Last but not least, if you have checked things out, you know that the breeder/seller is reputable and has good references, you have found the horse of your dreams and the seller is asking a FAIR price, DO be prepared to pay that price. If the breeder has quality animals which have been handled and looked after, you should expect to pay for this.
    Please do NOT tell the seller/breeder "but I can find a fully trained mature QH for $1500". Keep in mind that with the cost of stud fees, registration costs, as well as feed, medical care, farrier costs etc, it costs a breeder approximately $2500 to get a foal on the ground.  And that is assuming NO incidents where a veterinarian has been required.
    Most breeders barely break even on their horses and the vast majority actually lose money when breeding horses, but continue to do so as a labor of love and in order to try to preserve the breed.
    Personally as breeders, we pride ourselves on asking a fair price for our horses. They are handled and well cared for, and we feel that they are priced accordingly. Dickering on price can be quite insulting, and in many cases will turn a seller off completely. Although some breeders don't mind, others (like us) really do!
    Most reputable breeders (ourselves included) price their horses fairly. They are of the mind that if you can't afford to buy the horse, or want to "go cheap" with it, this tends to be a good indication of the type of care that the horse might receive after it is sold. Needless to say, this is not perceived to be a good reflection upon a prospective new owner....
    In our particular situation, we personally are of the mind that if you start dickering with us on price, you have pretty much ensured that you won't be getting one of our horses...

What about bloodlines?

  • There are only 8 stallion/sire bloodlines in the Canadian Horse breed. Some of these lines are more common, some less so. At one time we used to maintain a very detailed information regarding the stallion bloodlines however this became too onerous to maintain. Thankfully Sandra Rowe of Élevage de Lacadienne has taken over keeping these up.
  • For more information on bloodlines, see our Bloodlines page or the link above.
  • Does it matter to you whether you have a horse from a rare line or not? If you have absolutely NO intention to breed, then in the interests of trying to maintain rare bloodlines within the breed, you are probably best off not purchasing a horse of rare lines. You are also probably best off not going shopping at a farm where the breeder specializes in selling breeding stock with rare bloodlines that they are hoping to have perpetuated.
  • Consider what you want to do with your horse? Are you looking for a certain type of temperament or build or movement? Then you might want to look at horses coming from lines that are known for having those types of characteristics.
  • Are you looking for breeding stock of rarer lines? In this case, do your research ahead of time. A good place to begin, is in the Bloodlines information section mentioned above. Think about what you want to be breeding for (eg good temperament, a specific bloodline, type of build, a certain "look" or way of going, or for a specific discipline) and then look for examples from those lines that seem to be better suited to fit your needs.
  • If you are specifically looking for breeding stock, be sure to find out what other Canadian Horse stallions and mares are located near you and what lines they are from. Avoid buying more stock that is closely related to that already in the area. Doing this does not benefit either you or the breed as it limits genetic diversity and reduces breeding options open to you as well as the others around you. There is little value for the breed in buying a stallion prospect for your farm, if his full brother is standing just one town over. Nor is there much point in buying a stallion prospect by a sire who already has hundreds of foals on the ground. Instead, choose the quality individual whose lines are on the verge of disappearing. As the saying goes "variety is the spice of life" and by ensuring you chose horses from a good variety of lines, this will help to keep the breed free of genetic diseases resulting from inbreeding, and will also help to keep these rare lines, many of which are on the verge of completely disappearing.

What about purity?

  • On the registration papers for each Canadian Horse, the degree of purity is noted. The horse is denoted either as purebred, or else a percentage purity is specified. This scenario of a horse being assigned a percentage purity is getting much less common now as the majority of horses in the breed are now purebred so doesn't apply as much now.  However you may see this in your horse's papers and wonder what this is all about.
  • This is our interpretation of the whole purity issue: When the numbers of Canadian Horses dropped to very low levels back in the 1930's and 40's, the studbooks were officially opened in order to allow more mares in. These mares were for all intents and purposes pure Canadian horses but had never previously been registered, and they had to possess all of the appropriate characteristics of a Canadian Horse. They were each inspected rigorously and had to meet strict criteria in order to be admitted into the registry.
  • When these horses (mares only) were allowed into the registry, they were given a letter prefix in front of their names (usually an "S" for "souche") and they were designated as being only 50 % pure. All mares must always be bred to a 100 % pureblood stallion, so with each succeeding generation, the offspring of a less than 100 % mare becomes more "pure". The degree of purity increases as follows:
    • A 50 % (or previously never registered) mare bred to 100% stallion = 75 % offspring. Colts had to be gelded as they were not purebred and so could not be used for breeding purposes, but the fillies could be used for breeding.
    • A 75 % mare bred to 100 % stallion = 87.5 % offspring. Colts had to be gelded as they were not purebred and could not be used for breeding purposes, but the fillies could be used for breeding.
    • An 87.5 % mare bred to 100 % stallion = 93.75 % offspring. The fillies are now deemed to be purebred and all of their offspring (either male or female) will considered pure. The colts were still not considered to be purebred (they are 15/16) and must still be gelded.
    • A 93.75 % mare bred to 100 % stallion = 96.875 % offspring. All offspring (both colts and fillies) are now considered to be purebred and can be used for breeding purposes.
  • In the past we were advised of situations where people purchased unregistered, partbred horses for top dollar, and were told by unscrupulous sellers that then could then go on to have these horses registered. Nope - not going to happen! It is important to realize that these "degrees of purity" apply only to registered Canadian Horses in the breed registry. You cannot breed a Canadian Horse to another breed of horse and expect to register the offspring as a 50% pure Canadian. Nor can you breed a Canadian cross back to a purebred Canadian and expect to register it, even though with each generation it has more pure Canadian blood in it. Any offspring (no matter how many generations on down the line) which is the result of a Canadian being bred to a horse of another breed, or to an unregistered Canadian, will NEVER be able to be registered.
  • Canadian crosses of any type and degree are NOT recognized by the Canadian Horse Breeders Association / Société des Eleveurs de Chevaux Canadiens or the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation (registering body), and therefore cannot be registered.
  • There are NO recognized partbred or half registries of any sort for the Canadian Horse breed. There used to be unrecognized partbred registries that existed, however these were privately owned and run, not accountable to any sort of board or governing body/breed organization, nor were they regulated or following any sort of breed standards. Fortunately these unregulated registries have now largely fallen by the wayside, as in our opinion, they were nothing but a "money grab".
  • The issue of "non-pure" Canadians in the stud books is confusing to many. Remember that the non-registered Canadian horses were only incorporated into the studbooks during a time when there were few Canadian Horses left in existence, and those that were admitted were still basically "pure" albeit unregistered Canadians.

I am looking at, or have bought a horse that didn't come with papers, but I am sure it is a Canadian as it looks just like one.

How can I tell if it is a Canadian, and if it has been registered?

If it has no papers, how can I get it registered?

  • For the most part, a registered Canadian is much more valuable than an unregistered Canadian, so there are very very few cases of registered horses being sold without papers.
  • However having said that, with the recent downturn in the economy and some breeders falling upon hard times, some Canadians are turning up at auctions or on sites such as Kijiji, often being sold without papers. In these cases, it is difficult, if not impossible to get the registration papers unless the owner/seller actually agrees to sign them over to you.
  • If you have a horse that you think might be a Canadian, you need to talk to the seller and try to find the history of the horse, and particularly who bred it. If you can get the breeder's name and contact information, contact them to get a history on the horse, and to see if you can get them to sign the papers over to you.
  • You can check the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation (CLRC) website to see if there is a horse that matches your horse's history and description, or to get contact information on different Canadian Horse breeders to see if you can figure out where your horse came from.
  • Have your vet scan the horse's neck for the electronic microchip ID or look for a lip tattoo (the latter being very rare now with most horses now being microchipped). All Canadian Horses that have been registered, must have either of these two means of identification. If the horse does turn out to have identification, record the chip number or tatoo and contact the CLRC to have the horse identified. You can then ask them to see if there is any way of having the registration papers reissued. FWIW, it is very rare that this is able to be accomplished however in the odd instance it does happen so is worth investigating.
  • The horse may be a purebred Canadian and their parentage may be able to be verified through dna typing, however if there is no way of verifying their legal sale, registration, and official transfer of ownership by their owner, there is a good chance the horse will not be able to be registered or have papers reissued.
  • Many times people contact us saying "my horse looks just like a Canadian and I would like to get him registered".  Know that even if the horse looks just like a purebred Canadian but this cannot be verified through sales history, identification (micro-chip) and dna typing, unfortunately there is NO hardship clause or any kind of inspection with the breed registry that will allow such a horse to be registered.
  • An unregistered Canadian can be only be registered if both of the parents are registered and dna typed, and the breeder and/or seller agrees to complete the paperwork (usually consisting of both a registration application and transfer of ownership). In addition, dna parentage verification will have to be done on the unregistered horse to determine that it was in fact descended from the individuals as claimed. Only when all of these specifications have been fulfilled, can the horse in question be registered (usually with a considerable financial penalty).
  • If you have an unregistered horse that descends from two registered parents, however one or both of the parents are now deceased without ever having dna testing done, it is unlikely that the horse will be able to be registered. Only if the parentage of the unregistered horse can be established, can it be registered. However for further inquiries re this matter, contact the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation.

Before signing on the dotted line...

  • Especially if buying the horse without being able to see it or try it out first hand or in person, be VERY sure that the breeder is able to demonstrate to you that the horse can physically and mentally "do" what they are claimed to be able to do. If you cannot evaluate it yourself in person, have someone located geographically closer to the horse to do so.
  • If you cannot evaluate the horse in person or have someone do it for you, at least evaluate it carefully on video. Be sure to watch the horse move to ensure that it is sound, observe it carefully to ensure that it moves in a way suitable for what you want to use it for. If there is a lot of "slow motion" movement on the video, be suspicious. Most horses appear to move much better and more extravagantly in slow motion than they do in reality.  Most of all, be sure to have its riding/driving ability well demonstrated for you, under a variety of circumstances and conditions. It has been our experience, not all horses claimed to be "broke", are!
  • When assessing the horse, make sure that if it is a potential dressage "star", then it had better have good movement and balance. If it is a potential driving candidate, does it appear calm and trustworthy in harness? If it is has super "jumper" potential, then you had better be sure to watch it go over some fences to indeed be sure that it is capable of this.
  • Last, but definitely not least, be sure to get a Veterinary Pre-purchase exam done on ANY horse that you are seriously considering purchasing! Any reputable seller will be receptive to having this done. If the seller is resistant to having their horse vet checked, there is usually a very good reason why. In this kind of situation, alarm bells should be ringing and you should just walk away...

Who is responsible for doing the paperwork?

  • See the top of this page where we have covered this in extensive detail.  Unfortunately the "who is responsible for doing the paperwork" has become very unclear and so is often simply just not being done. This is resulting in a massive loss of Canadian Horses from our breed registry! As such, we have tried to assist with this, with the information above.
  • Once you have chosen your horse and have made the commitment to buy it, according to the Canadian Pedigree Act, if a horse is being sold as a purebred, legally it is always the seller's responsibility to complete and pay for all paperwork to do with the transaction.  The horse's registration papers should always be signed over to you as the buyer, as part of the sales agreement. According to Canadian Law, the buyer is NEVER legally responsible for having to complete and pay for this to done, so if a seller tries to tell you this, they are not correct.
    See: Canadian Animal Pedigree act, section 64 (j).
  • In the case of an already registered horse, by Canadian law,  it is the seller's responsibility to transfer the registration of the horse into your name within 6 months of the sale. See same Canadian Animal Pedigree act as above, section 64(j).
  • Having said the above, because some breeders/sellers have demonstrated a much "less than sterling" reputation regarding following through with doing their their horse's paperwork, the Canadian Horse Breeders Association (CHBA) constitution, has been changed to address this problem, enabling buyers, in "worst case scenarios" at least to be able to register their own horses. The following now applies:
    Although the seller of an animal is subject to Section (J) of Article 64 of the Animal Pedigree Act, this does not prevent the buyer from applying for a transfer or registration and from paying the fees.
    In other words, you as buyer CAN apply to have your horses papers tranferred. You can obtain these documents on the Canadian Horse Breeders Association (CHBA) website.
    However, personally, if I was buying a purebred Canadian Horse and the seller would not provide the horses papers, I would simply walk away. Their lack of care and attention to this detail likely mirrors everything else that has been done concerning the horse, and in our opinion would be unacceptable.
    Always remember, a reputable breeder/seller would NEVER do this!

How do I go about Registering my horse or foal?

  • In order to be registered, the following must be completed:
    • the horse/foal must be DNA typed for parentage verification. DNA kit applications are available here
    • The horse/foal must be micro-chipped for identification purposes (done by a Veterinarian who must sign the form). Chip application form found here
    • Registration certificate which must be applied for, in the name of the current owner. Registration application available here
  • Registration rules are available here 
  • Instructions on how to register a foal are available here 

Hopefully these tips will help to assist you in the search for your own Canadian Horse. Happy horse hunting!