Being Canada’s official horse since 2002, the Canadian horse can be described as faithful, hard working, dedicated to humans and keenly intelligent. Brought over from Europe in the 1650s, the Canadian horse adapted well to the demands and harsh Canadian winters therefore has been branded “the little iron horse”. They are hardy, hard working and “easy keepers”. During the First World War, most were sent overseas to support the troops as war horses, almost driving them to extinction in Canada. A major effort during the 60’s helped their numbers rebound, and the breed is now acknowledged as versatile, intelligent and talented. Unfortunately, active efforts are still needed to keep the breed thriving as they are still not recognized for all their qualities.
At Serene View Ranch, we presently have two Canadian horses who are part of the equine-assisted psychotherapy program.
He is 14 years old. He was born on Earth Day, April 22, 2010 and is a very grounded horse. I met him when he was only two hours old and it was “love at first sight”. Jack knows no fear and truly sees the good in life and others. He still thinks that he is a baby, so he may snuggle a bit too much at times. Jack likes being himself and loves all the attention that he can get. He is very sensitive to clients and seems to sense physical pain/injuries. He also has a stubborn streak that makes him “our Jack”.
He comes from a small farm of Canadian horses in Quebec and he arrived on PEI 14 years ago. At that time, he had just finished a 20-week college course in Lapocatiere, Quebec, a college that specializes in the certification of horse trainers (I like to say that he is a college graduate). Of all the horses that I have known in my life, Rambo has been my greatest challenge. No, he is not a bad horse. He is keenly intuitive, very sensitive and cannot be influenced by anything other than authenticity. Rambo is loyal, dedicated and watchful. I call him “the wounded warrior” as he is bigger than life, but has been impacted psychologically at some point in his history. His hypervigilance is well developed and he has fully mastered the “flight” part of the “fight or flight response” that is often talked about in PTSD. The saying ” horses don’t lie” holds true for him. In equine-assisted psychotherapy, he is perfectly fine with true emotion, even if that is strong anger or intense fear. Rambo loves working with veterans and seems to “get” their lived experience. I have grown to always listen to what he is telling me through his ears, eyes and body.
In June, 2017, Philip’s friend, Pat, advised us that they had a 17 year old mare who had been basically abandoned by her owner(life circumstances). Jim and I picked up this detached mare who was a bit underweight and was obviously quite bothered by bugs. Today, I am proud to say that Kaliki has had an amazing three years at SVR, she has gained weight, has very shiny fur and most importantly, she is now engaged with our clients. Kaliki has been an amazing companion to many of our clients and we feel blessed to have her on our team. Mind you, she still can fidget while tied.
This Western girl came to us from Advocate Harbour and was a Christmas gift to all of us in 2017. Fancy spent most of her life as a 4H horse for a young boy who eventually outgrew this lovely horse. Fancy is a solid, kind and engaging horse. She is very calm, but has her little stubborn streak that we all love as it shows her ability to be herself with clients. She also loves to get lots of attention and gives amazing horsey hugs. Her favourite treats are red Nibbs.
OUR OTHER HORSES
Lucie is a 13 year old draft and something else cross who came to us from “les Iles de la Madelaine”, where she was a trail horse for a number of years. In her life prior to being a trail horse, Lucie was neglected and lived in very confined quarters. Despite her difficult early years, Lucie absolutely loves her work with our clients. She is sensitive to too much pressure, so our clients need to regulate themselves well when working with her.
Chrissy is a quarter horse/percheron mix. She came to SVR a few years ago as we were needing a bigger horse for clients. Chrissy worked for several years at children’s camps and trail riding programs so she is quite calm and well-mannered. Although she does have a bit of a pushy streak and likes to be a bit bossy at times. She came from a large horse farm in Quebec, where they raise horses for the purpose of being part of riding programs. This farm has 70 horses, so coming to SVR, there is a bit more attention given to Chrissy and she enjoys it very much. She also enjoys being a horse and have a purpose while having more freedom to be herself.
After losing my long time Quarter Horse companion, Sissy Jack, 15 years ago, I could not convince myself to consider another horse. Time and great friends eventually led me to look for a Canadian horse, a rare breed in Atlantic Canada. Mia lived outside of Ottawa and I found her on the Internet. Unfortunately, the sellers were less than honest, and despite a veterinary check, she arrived in PEI with a chronic ankle injury. This led to very little riding, but lots of time spent on the ground with this marvellous mare. She led me to understand that being with horses was often more important than riding. Mia remained the dominant mare in the herd at Serene View Ranch until her passing in November 2019. Despite her chronic pain and limited abilities, she is always watching over her herd of horses and humans. We lovingly always called her “Mama Mia”. We will miss you forever.
Diesel moved to NB in the spring of 2020 in order to work as a therapy horse for children with special needs. He was a quarter horse/Arabian gelding and an absolute gem. He arrived at SVR in May 2018 and found his way into our hearts quite quickly. Although we do not know anything about his history, we do know that a very kind woman adopted him and spent many hours ensuring that he grew into a wonderful pleasure horse. We were truly blessed he landed at SVR and made such a an impact on our staff and clients.
Doodle came to us through Sumac Farms as a young horse that was experiencing issues with her health. Doodle was the most amazing horse I have ever met. She was extremely well trained, super smart and had the best personality that could ever be found in a horse. Unfortunately, despite all the best care that we could offer her, her chronic pain got to the point that we had to euthanize her in March 2018. Doodle was an amazing partner to many of SVR clients and her sudden departure has left a hole in many hearts. We cannot replace a horse like Doodle. We are just grateful that we were fortunate enough to have her in our lives for a brief time.
GG & Poutine
Our Golden Girls sadly left us in the spring of 2023. At 32 and 31, they worked side by side with our clients and were just the most loving and nurturing horses. They were very close and showed us the meaning of a lifetime friend. Poutine looked over GG who was not as healthy. Both loved their retirement work of being therapy horses. GG gave the best hugs and Poutine was nicknamed the “plow” as she did not shy at anything and loved to go on the trails with clients.