At The Red Pony Stands® Ojibwe Horse Sanctuary, we consider the Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies to be "more-than-human" beings and work hard to protect their sacred sanctuary life. We treat our four-legged relatives with the same respect as humans and prioritize strong horse-human relationships with all our ponies. Our ponies are not rode or sold to the general public. Instead, they can be found resting in their custom reclaimed-wood run-in sheds, grazing on our lush prairie fields or walking the wooded trails in the rolling hills of the Qu'Appelle Valley. In addition to providing top-quality physical care at all times, Indigenous peoples understand the horse to be a gift from the Creator that serves as an amplifier of spiritual healing energy. Guided by our Traditional Elder, we work hard to honour the spiritual capacities of our ponies. Much of our sanctuary activities involve helping our ponies reconnect to their pre-colonial spiritual foundations. In return, our ponies are in a position to help humans spiritually. We frequently attend Horse Dance Ceremonies held across the province to ensure out ponies are spiritually nourished.
The Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony breed is a unique breed of horse (Rare Breeds Canada, 2016) best characterized by its First Nations origins. As archaeological technology becomes more advanced, the colonial history of the horse is being challenged. Contrary to what the dominant society claims, the oldest fossil remains of the horse have been located not in Europe or Asia, but in North America! While the Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony was once thought to be a cross because the Canadian Horse and the Spanish Mustang, that hypothesis has not been fully supported by sophisticated microsatellite and microchrondrial DNA studies. Instead, the results align with the claims by Indigenous Traditional Elders and Knowledge Keepers that contend, "Horses were not introduced, necessarily, by the Spaniards; these are Indigenous horses that originated here... We have Indigenous Ponies here and the Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies that are Indigenous to this land" (Aiken, 2013). The Red Pony Stands® Ojibwe Horse Sanctuary acts as a spokesperson to empower First Nations peoples' voices and knowledges related to the Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony in a variety of public and academic settings.
The Red Pony Stands® Ojibwe Horse Sanctuary is committed to a responsible and sustainable breeding program to ensure the survival of the breed for generations to come. Currently, there is only an estimated 175-200 Lac La Croix Indigenous Ponies left in the world. As such, we carefully select our breeding pairs based on their lineages/ bloodlines in combination with evidence-based genetic research to ensure the diversity of the gene pool and avoid the risk of bottleneck. While our herd alone has a wealth of genetic diversity that will contribute greatly to a sustainable breed for the future, we partner with other not-for-profit organizations across North America that share our mission, such as Sacred Way Sanctuary in Florence, Alabama. In consultation with our Guiding Elder, we meticulously screen potential caretakers for the placement of our foals based on their ability to meet the unique physical and spiritual needs of these ponies. We also recognize that the ponies' link to Indigenous cultures is also threatened, so we dedicate our efforts to preserving this history by documenting the role of the Lac La Croix Indigenous Pony for Indigenous peoples' holistic health.