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 60s 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.
Jack 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 in 2009. 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.
Okay, so for many years, I did not understand people who were into miniature horses, that is, until 2014. While attending an EAGALA conference in Texas with equine specialist Mary, miniature horses were used in the equine psychotherapy demonstrations. These little fellows impressed me so much, that I told Mary, “I’m getting some for our program”. Being a great friend, Mary found some for sale in PEI and by August 2015, three miniature horses landed at Serene View Ranch. Miniature horses are known for their intelligence, quick learning and curiosity. Although they are small, they stand up for themselves and don’t let size get into the way. Another interesting fact about miniature horses is that there are a few programs in the US that are training miniature horses as service animals for PTSD. We presently have four miniature horses in our programs.
Mom to R2 and Jacob, Jill has a deformed front right hoof. She is obviously not able to move as quickly as the other horses, but she seems to manage quite fine. Jill is a bit aloof at times, but yet at other times, seems to really like being present for clients. Although she does not pay much attention to me, she is often the first to say hello to clients who are coming into Serene View Ranch.
Born in 2013, R2 is remarkably calm and curious about everything. He is accepting and loves to learn. He does not seem to be demanding or in any way anxious. He goes with the flow and just loves to interact with people. Hopefully , he will learn to pull a cart so we can experience the versatility of miniature horses.
The youngest of the herd, Jacob was born on June 16, 2014. What can I say about this puff fluff of a miniature? Jacob loves attention and has the softest nose in the world. Although small, he finds his way in the herd and never lets himself be pushed around by the others. He also does not mind taking naps wherever and whenever the mood hits him, even in the middle of equine psychotherapy.
Rain is our fourth miniature horse. She was born in the rain at Morning Star Acres, a horse rescue center in New Brunswick. Rain also came home in the rain in April, 2015. We immediately fell in love with this kind little girl with blue eyes. Rain came to us with little horse experience, so it took her quite a while to integrate into the herd. Even now, you can see her standing on her own at times, quite happy being by herself. In Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Rain is quite engaged when she wants to and does not mind pinning her little ears back when she senses strong emotions.
Our Golden Girl, also known as GG, is 25 years old palamino who has had a good career in reining events and has been the mother to 9 foals. GG’s primary role at SVR is being part of our EAGALA, or on the ground equine therapy. GG has taught many new riders throughout her years at Sumac Farm in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and is now retired as a therapy horse that is not ridden. GG is the kindest horse who loves to be scratched under her neck and around her face. GG is a mother to all of us.
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.
This gorgeous mare is 27 years old and has been generously sold to us by Sumac Farms, former home of GG. Poutine is the ideal Barbie horse with her amazing golden mane and tail. She expresses herself very clearly with her ears and walking away when a bit annoyed. Poutine is a diva and yet she is kind of built like a tank. She loves trail riding and is a very steady horse for even the most nervous of riders.
Chrissie is a draft horse cross who came to SVR in the summer of 2020. She originates from Quebec, where she spent most of her life as a horse at children’s camps and trail rides. Chrissie was not sure if she liked the equine therapy work at first, but now, she is the first to meet you at the fence and wants to come to work. Our “big girl” is gentle, sweet and kind, yet she has now taken the role of herd leader and don’t dare get between her and her carrots.
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.
Roxy is our youngest horse and most recently added horse to SVR. She is a registered Paint Horse. Her introduction to equine therapy started soon after her arrival at SVR. She was part of our EAGALA training in the spring of 2019. She was born in Saskatchewan, where she was raised in a loving home. Unfortunately, there was also much sadness in her home, as her human mom lost her loving husband shortly before Roxy was born. Her mom tells us that she was a great emotional support during her initial grieving period. A kind and gentle horse, Roxy is still learning the ropes at the ranch and is gradually finding her way into our equine programs.
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.