When Cranbrook resident Janice Pelletier saw the photo of two horses along with two mounties in last week’s Townsman, she knew right away the breed of those horses, which is also the national horse of Canada.
Pelletier could tell they were Canadian horses from the stocky fur, the curly manes and the chiseled shape of their head.
The horses are characterized by their heartiness. They also don’t need to be fed as much as most other horses and don’t need to wear shoes.
Next door, Pelletier’s daughter, Laurel Benson, is a horse breeder at Mountainview Canadian Horses.
The ranch is located south of Cranbrook and there are about 50 horses there, most of which are of the Canadian variety.
Mountainview also has a contract with the Calgary City Police to supply horses.
Benson said they train those horses not to be startled by loud noises or crowds, as they are sometimes deployed in riot control situations. The horses also have no problem working a 16-hour day, which is sometimes also required in a policing situation.
Benson said Mountainview is one of the only breeders of Canadian horses in this part of the country; most are in Quebec.
“They were the first horses to set foot on Canadian soil,” she said. The horses came across from Europe from the stock of King Louis XIV in the 17th century. From that time they adapted to Canada’s harsh winters and working conditions.
Benson said that growing up in the harsh climate made it a versatile horse with the ability to eat almost anything growing on the ground.
They were used as work horses, war horses, race horses and breeding horses. Then, as tractors and equipment took the farming world away from horse labour, the numbers of the horses dwindled down into the hundreds. It was only through efforts by breeders who saw the unique qualities of the horse that the pure bred horse is still around.
Benson said the business began in 1999, from foals, which they raised to be breeder horses. One of those horses is Mountainview Jackson Minx, one of Benson’s first Canadian horses, which she raised from a foal.
At this time of year, young foals are just starting to get their legs.
The horses are friendly and come to people when they are nearby. They are one of the few breeds developed in Canada.
For more information, go to www.mountainviewcanadians.com.