Wild horses have a long history in this country, but their story is complicated. Canada’s original wild horses were ancient creatures and once numbered in the millions. However, these animals disappeared between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Canada’s modern wild horses — like wild horses across North America — are descendants of horses brought here by early explorers and settlers from Europe. These animals were originally domesticated, but escaped captivity and returned to their wild ways.
Wild horses have developed special attributes to enable them to survive in Canada’s harsh climate. For example, they have big hooves to help them paw through snow to feed.
Their legs are short and thick, and their bodies are stocky and very muscled. This enables them to travel long distances up and down steep hills and through forests.
Although wild horses were once numerous in Canada, only four main herds remain today. The most famous is the herd on Sable Island, in Nova Scotia. There are also two herds in Brittany Triangle in south central British Columbia and one in the Siffleur Wilderness Area in Alberta. Outside of the Sable Island herd, there is little official protection for wild horses. Their numbers have decreased over the last several decades and only a few hundred are left in Canada.