Drawing by Nils Hogner 1945

                            BREED PROFILE

Those of you already involved with the Canadian breed are likely well acquainted with popular terminology used by many Canadian Horse breeders. For those who are not, the first terms that you may often hear or read about as you learn more about Canada’s National Horse are: the “Eight bloodlines, “stallion percentages,” “souche mares” and ” Canadian crosses.” Just what do these terms mean?

The Eight Bloodlines

The “Eight bloodlines” are eight direct sire lines that were designated following a study of over one thousand nine hundred Canadian Horses in the period of the late 1950’s to August 1992. The results of this research were first published in Volume 7 of the Canadian Horse Breeders Association Genealogical Records (Stud Books) in 1994. The classification of the eight sire lines was intended to be a starting point to help breeders learn more about their horses. M. Jacques Dupont, then a national director of the CHBA, hoped that further studies would lead to defining the qualities and faults of one line relative to another, and establish the progeny of mares from these lines.

The eight sire lines designated were:

  1. Thomas de Viger #3393 (Thomas x Sarcelle de Cap Rouge)
  2. Brio de La Victoire #3665 (Quito Boy de La Victoire x Brunette 3eme)
  3. La Gorgendiere Royal #3593 (Beauport de Cap Rouge x La Gorgendiere Reine)
  4. Ste. Anne Marquis de Becancour #3544 (Bazola de Becancour x Ste. Anne Hisola)
  5. Henryville Prince #3813 ( Prince Black x Henryville Josette)
  6. Pitro #3581 (Albert de St. Isadore x Arnoldwold Aline 7ieme)
  7. Lou #3613 (Deland de Cap Rouge x Mona)
  8. La Gorgendiere Major II #3618 ( St. Anne Mazola x La Gorgendiere Reine)

Only a small number of Canadian Horses were registered during that time period, so it is not surprising to find that these eight stallions designated as line sires are closely related. Two are sons of the same mare, and others come from closely related mares or the same direct female lines (such as Lou and Pitro). Of the eight stallion lines, six descend in direct sire line from the black stallion, Albert de Cap Rouge #1489 (Wilfrid x Helene).

Albert de Cap Rouge had the ability to pass on both size and vitality to his offspring. He stood at the Cap Rouge government farm for nineteen years, and can be found in the pedigree of almost every Canadian Horse today. Only Thomas de Viger and Lou descend from different sires in direct male line, and even they have Albert in their pedigrees. For more information on the progeny of the eight sire lines up to the year 2000, visit Cherry Creek Canadians website: Bloodlines page, or try following the lines through yourself on the CLRC (Canadian Livestock Records) electronic herdbook . (*Note: the CLRC database is not yet complete, and to find many of the early horses, you will need to purchase the Canadian Horse stud books from CLRC). To see photos and read more about influential Canadian sires, visit our Sire Lines page.

Stallion Line Percentages

Often, in conjunction with the “eight” designated sire lines, you will hear people talk, advertise, or ask about the percentages of each of the eight lines that a horse’s pedigree, particularly a stallion’s pedigree, includes. Many people feel that this is a more accurate way of determining a horse’s bloodlines. Calculation of percentages is commonly arrived at by going back three generations in a Canadian horse’s pedigree (eight horses) and giving each horse in the third generation 12 ½% for the line they represent. Calculating in this fashion, for example, would mean that although our stallion, Swallowfield Eno Kelbeck, is of direct male line to St. Anne Marquis de Becancour, he becomes 37.5% Viger, 25% St. Anne Marquis de Becancour, 12.5% Fox and 25% older strains. For more information on bloodline percentages and heritability in horses visit: Cosyland Farm.

Both methods are useful introductions to pedigree study in the Canadian Horse breed.

You may have realized by now though, that the importance of the mare seems to have been consistently overlooked in popular analysis of Canadian Horse pedigrees. This is not unusual, as for over a century, people often believed that the male of a species deserved most of the credit for transmitting superior qualities to his offspring. Direct sire (also called "tail-male”) lines were traced, studied, published and recited until every aspiring horse breeder knew them by heart. While stallions are of course, important, and must be chosen with great care, we believe that a good mare is the cornerstone of any successful breeding program.

In recent years, scientists and geneticists have gained new knowledge about the path of inheritance which has had a profound impact on horse breeding, and brought the importance of the mare to the forefront. To see photos and read about influential Canadian mares visit our Mare Lines page.

The “Souche Mares”

Sometimes in a Canadian Horse's pedigree you might see an “S” before a registration number and may wonder what the “S” means. “S” denotes a “souche” mare. When Canadian-type horses were re-inspected to qualify for the “new” Canadian Horse studbooks in the early nineteen-hundreds, horses that fit the ideal description were granted the status of Canadian Horse Foundation Stock, or “Chevaux de Souche,” by association and government-approved inspectors. This practice went on until the mid to late 1920's in order to build up the base of the breed.

Unfortunately, by the mid-1940's, because breeders didn’t always register their foals, breed numbers had again dwindled to disastrous lows. In order to revive the breed, as explained by CLRC registrar, Laura Lee Mills, “ A second set of inspections was set up, again by government-appointed inspectors. This time, however, it was only mares that were inspected - the existing stallions were to sire the coming generations. A mare, upon inspection, was given the status of non-registered and provided she was bred to a 100% Canadian stallion, the female progeny would be 50% (and carry the S prefix). The female progeny from this 50% filly (when bred to a 100% stallion) would be 75% and carry the S prefix. The female progeny from this 75% filly (when bred to a 100% stallion) would be 87.5% and still carry the S prefix. The female progeny of this 87.5% filly (when bred to a 100% stallion) would be 100% pure and drop the S prefix.

Male progeny from the above crosses could be registered, however, they had to be gelded first and carried the C (presumably for castrated) prefix. An extra generation also existed (and still does today) for geldings - when an 87.5% filly (bred to a 100% stallion) gives birth to a colt, he must be gelded before registration and will only be registered at 93.8% pure.

This second set of inspections went on until about 1984. Since then, all Canadian horses registered must come from registered Canadian parents. Because of the longevity of the breed, our registrar still sees some geldings at 75% because their 50% mothers are still living.

Having a “souche” (percentage) mare in a horse’s pedigree doesn’t mean that horse is not all Canadian or that it is not as good as a horse that does not have a “souche” mare in its pedigree. It only means that the ancestors of that horse were not all recorded in the Canadian Horse registry. In days gone by, people often valued their horses, but not their registration papers. However, if you own or are thinking of buying a percentage mare, what it can mean is that there could be restrictions on keeping any male foals as stallions.

Partbred Canadians

 Partbred Canadians should not be confused with percentage Canadians. No matter how many generations go by, as in other breeds, the descendants of partbred Canadians will never achieve purebred status. While there was a Crossbred section recognized and recorded with the Canadian Horse Breeders Association in the 1930s, at this time, the national association no longer includes a partbred record in their registry. Currently, partbred Canadians can be recorded with the CLRC CAN ID  (Canadian Identification Project).

Outcrosses of Canadian stallions with mares of other breeds or types consistently produce excellent athletic offspring with desirable temperaments and movement. The demand for partbred Canadians is steadily growing, and classes for recorded partbreds are often included at Canadian Horse events.

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Legacy's Partbred Canadian Pinto filly "Ariel" from a Quarter Horse/Paint mare.

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