A natural show-off, the Canadian Sport Horse loves to be the center of attention!

The Canadian Sport Horse originated from horses used by Canadian farmers, crossed with the English thoroughbreds. Thousands of Canadian sport horses served the allies in World War I. Today, this outstanding animal is being bred to excel at the modern Olympic sport horse disciplines. It is evolving still, and is quickly becoming a formidable contender in international equestrian competitions.

This sport horse is a large and solid horse with a talent for jumping. It excels in all Olympic disciplines and is a strong international competitor in Show Jumping, Dressage, and particularly Three Day Eventing. It has natural courage and intelligence and thrives on exercise and discipline.

The Canadian Sport Horse is a popular economical alternative to importing the more expensive European Warmblood horse for most American competitors. With its kind temperament it can make a great mount for an amateur, but due to its size and strength it is better suited for the rider who has some experience and is comfortable with a fast and big moving horse.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Perissodactyla
  • Family: Equidae
  • Genus: Equus
  • Species: caballus

Horse Breeds

The Canadian Sport Horses are a light horse breed. Light horse breeds generally weigh under 1,500 pounds. They are typically used as riding horses for leisure and trail riding. Being agile and swift, many are also used on the racetrack, in the show ring, and for work on the ranch.
Light horses are grouped in a couple of different ways, one being the continent or country where they originated from. They are also grouped according to training, classified as either a stock type, hunter type, saddle type, or ‘other’. A body type is generally attributed to each class, with the ‘other’ classification being a bit of an odd ball. It includes those that are color breeds or those that may fit a body type of one of the training classes, but not be used for that type of training. In some cases the ‘other’ types can also include those that may fit into more than one of the type groups.
The horse class the Canadian Sport Horse primarily fits into is the ‘hunter’ type class as it is strong in Show Jumping, Dressage, and Three Day Eventing.

Horse Backgrounds

In the late 1800’s, Ontario farmers were using a hardy, rugged breed of horse with mostly French ancestry to work on their farms. They were particularly noted for their ability to jump the timber fences commonly used at the time. The Canadians sent many horses to Europe to aid in the First World War where the horses gained a reputation as brave and hardy work horses.
The Canadian Racing Association then imported sixteen English Thoroughbred stallions in order to breed them with these work horses and thus produced the crossbred horses which became the foundation for the modern Canadian Sport Horse. The Canadian Hunter, Saddle and Light Horse Improvement Society organized in 1926, and in 1933 incorporated with the Canadian Hunter Society, and began to maintain a studbook. Today it is known as the Canadian Sport Horse Association.
The Association allows rigorously inspected mares of other breeds into the breeding program as well as stallions that pass a performance test. The Canadian livestock Corporation reported that in the year 2000, a total of 12,430 horses had been registered.


The Canadian Sport Horse Association stated aim is “to ensure production and promotion of a sound, solid horse, with a good disposition, capable of competing successfully in the Olympic Disciplines at all levels of competition.” These horses can be bay, dark brown, chestnut, grey, pinto, palomino or black.
This sport horse should stand 16 hands or larger, with good proportion and a balanced look. They have a deep broad chest, a long sloping shoulder, well defined hind quarters, and solid knee and hock joints low to the ground with a good sized foot appropriate to the size of the horse. They should have naturally balanced movement with sufficient step to track up or overstep. They should demonstrate a good bascule when jumping with elevated front end and a powerful push from the hindquarters.

Horse Care and Feeding

The Canadian Sport Horse will do well in a show barn environment. They thrive on exercise and discipline, and do well in a box stall with daily turn out. They tend to be big eaters, and require a balanced diet with plenty of fresh hay and grain, without excessive carbohydrates. Vitamin and mineral supplements should be included as well, in accordance with the size of the horse.

Horse Training and Activities

The Canadian Sport Horse excels in all Olympic disciplines. It is a strong international competitor in Show Jumping, Dressage, and particularly Three Day Eventing. This horse’s natural courage and intelligence make it well suited to the rigors of the cross country phase and many of the top horses in the sport are Canadian Sport Horses.
They are natural show-offs, and love to be the center of attention. Because of their kind temperament they can make excellent mounts for the amateur, however, they are best suited for the rider who has some experience and is comfortable with a fast and big moving horse.

Common Health Problems

This horse is bred to be sound and solid, and is not particularly susceptible to common unsoundness problems. However, because of the extremely high levels of competition the horse excels at, care must be taken to ensure good husbandry practices. Splint boots, bell boots and standing wraps should be used regularly with the competition horse.
Care should be taken to ensure Equine Viral Arteritis, a viral respiratory infection, is not present in the breeding population. Infected individuals can easily spread the disease while exhibiting no outward symptoms and infected stallions will continue to shed the virus in their semen. Infected pregnant mares will have a 50 to 70 percent abortion rate within thirty days of exposure.


Young Canadian Sport Horse are available through many Canadian breeders, as well as solid and experienced competition horses. Young horses start under ten thousand dollars, and prices go up depending on the horses experience and talent. The Canadian Sport Horse Association maintains a list of links to breeders at www.c-s-h-a.org.


Ms. Deborah Rosen
Personal knowledge
Judith Dutson, Storey’s Illustrated Guide to 96 Horse Breeds of North America, Storey Publishing, LLC, 2005
Corinne Clark, A Pocket Guide to Horses and Ponies , Parragon Inc., 2007
The Canadian Sport Horse Association, Richmond, Ontario, Canada, 2008 Author: Joan Childs