PARRSBORO – The red maple leaf was flying along with a few hooves here last weekend, as Canada’s national breed of horse was showcased and celebrated.
The event was hosted by the Canadian Horse Breeders – Atlantic District and held at Parrsboro’s own Spirit Reins Ranch on Saturday, Sept. 27.
“It was a great turnout, with a lot of local support,” said Karen Yorke-Gilbert, member and director-at-large of the Canadian Horse Breeders – Atlantic District. “We are so happy to have been able to host this event.”
The goal of the club is to “preserve, promote and protect the Canadian horse,” which was officially declared the National Horse of Canada in 2002. The idea behind Saturday’s event was to promote awareness of the breed.
“The Canadian Horse/Le cheval Canadien is one of Canada’s best-kept secrets,” she said.
Arriving in Quebec in the late-1600s with the best horses of King Louis XIV, the horses survived tough conditions, hard use, sparse feed and extreme weather to earn a reputation as smart, easy-keeping and strong animals. This also earned them the nickname “Little Iron Horse.”
The breed evolved and saw use in the War of 1812, and a century later also saw action in the First World War. However, interest waned after the Second World War, and many Canadian horses began being shipped for slaughter. By the mid-1970s, Canadian horses were in danger of extinction, with only 400 left in the world.
The breed is still classified as rare, with only 6,000 in the world.
“The survival of this great national breed now rests solely in the hands of private breeders and clubs across this country,” said Yorke-Gilbert.
Events like the one held here Saturday aim to help promote the breed and ensure its survival.
“To showcase their versatility, their willingness to work, and the intelligence of this great breed, the demo day strived to exemplify the many ways in which these amazing horses can be utilized,” she said.
Demos included English and Western under saddle, dressage, reining, ground driving, driving obstacles, jumping trail class, barrel racing and pole bending.
The event also included a canteen, silent auction and an annual general meeting, concluding with a potluck dinner at the day’s end.