This will probably be our favorite Canada unit study. In case your wondering, we have two horses.
Starting at the beginning Horses have been in Canada since the 17th Century. Brought to Canada by King Louis XIV. He sent over the breed which is now known as the National Horse of Canada, perfectly named as the Canadian Horse. This breed is a draft cross and is used for driving (pulling sleds. farm tools, wagons/carriages) and riding. They are usually dark in colour.
Activity One-Different Modern Day Breeds
Print of several horse pictures I recommend Canadian Horse, American Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred, and Clydesdale. Look at the pictures, with smaller kids just note size, colours, do a bit of research and see what their main use is.
A note in measurement, horses are measured in ‘hands’ a hand is equal to 4 inches, it is measure from the tip of the pink to the tip of an extended thumb.
In case you don’t want to do the research;
Canadian Horse; 14-16 hands high, stallions weigh 1,050 to 1,350 pounds, while mares weigh 1,000 to 1,250 pounds. Usually black, but can be brown or chestnut. Known as ‘the little Iron Horse’ they were hard workers and easy keepers. They are currently considered a threatened breed.
American Quarter horse; Usually between 14-16 Hands, depending on the type they can weight between 1000-1200 pounds. This breed is very versatile. They were names because of their ability to run 1/4 of a mile incredibly quickly. There are two quarter horse race tracks in Canada, Alberta, and Ontario both have one. They are also popular in rodeos, and used for mounted police units. There are a lot of Quarter horses.
Thoroughbred; 15.2-17 Hands, they are best known for racing. Kentucky derby, and Queens Plate at Woodbine are thoroughbred horses. A famous Canadian thoroughbred is the Northern Dancer. He was bred in Ontario. As I am writing this I notice there are no pictures books about Northern dancer directed at kids, I may have to change this. He is inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, and June 8th is Northern Dancer Day. Here is his win at the Kentucky Derby.
Clydesdales; 16 to 18 hands, 1,800-2,200 pounds. These are the biggest horses, and are from Scottland, used for farming. Most people know them from these commercials (note to parents its for Budweiser.) They are usually bay in colour, they also usually have heavy feathering at the fetlocks.
Activity two- Find a horse
Hopefully, you can locate someplace near you that has them. Here in Ontario we attend the Royal Winter Fair, and Can Am once a year. I have always wanted to go to the Calgary Stampede. There are also lots of local horse shows, look up a local horse riding facility and they will probably be able to tell you where you can find a show. Even better find a place you can take a lesson, or go for a trail ride. Try to measure horses with your hands, look to see what horses are bay, chestnut, roaning, black, seal brown, dun, buckskin, palomino, gray, appaloosa, pinto. You may not see all of these, but you can pick your favorites.
Activity Three- Horse Timeline
Research on your own, as I am sure there are things I have missed.
17th Century Horses arrive in New France, Used mostly for agriculture, labor
18th Century Horses are introduced to Sable Island, Horse racing was re-introduced in Halifax. 1860 First Queens Plate.
1900 World war One, many horses were shipped off to war, very few returned home. 1918, horses are on the decline, cars and farm equipment is introduced. 1940 E.P. Taylor increases the popularity of Canadian thoroughbred Horse racing. 1945 Excess horses due to the introduction of advanced farming, meat slaughter begins and meat is shipped to Europe. This practice continues today.
Activity Four- Modern Day Horse Sport
Pick a few modern day horse sports. Link over to Wikipedia or even Youtube.
My favorites that I have tried are barrel racing, vaulting, and trail riding.
Watch, or even better go and try some of these sports. Vaulting is excellent for little kids if you can find someone in your area who teaches it. This is my three year old learning some vaulting.
If your kids love horses as much as we do, here are the board games we love.
Books you should read
Bunny the War Horse My girls loved this one as well, it was an interesting introduction to war, and how animals were treated.