Colonial Williamsburg is helping to revive the Canadian Horse, also known as Little Iron Horses, a breed that was at the brink of extinction. The horses come from royal lineage. In 1665, King Louis XIV shipped two stallions and twenty mares from his stables to the French colony of Quebec, and sent more in 1667 and 1670. The horses were popular because they could endure cold and did not require much food. They were energetic, reached maturity relatively quickly, and lived long lives. Perhaps most importantly they could multi task and one horse could be used for a variety of purposes.
But crossbreeding and the use of these horses in the Civil War Cavalry led to the depletion of the breed. Despite breeding programs in Quebec over the past century just 2,500 to 4,000 remain worldwide today. Colonial Williamsburg decided to add Canadian Horses to its rare breeds program in 2001.
"It’s good for people to see them. We can support the saving of the Canadian Horse by showing them, talking about them, and getting people interested in them. Having them here gives us a chance to spread the good news.”says Richard Nicoll, director of Colonial Williamsburg’s coach and livestock operations.More