WINNIPEG – The Ojibwe Horse is Canada’s only Indigenous-developed horse breed, and an exceptionally rare foal has been born – the first in Manitoba since the breed was extirpated from the province many years ago.
Trevor Kirczenow, the Ojibwe Horse Society’s Breed Registrar for the Ojibwe Horse Society, explains “This filly doesn’t have a name yet. We are consulting with our Indigenous friends to have a traditional Ojibwe naming ceremony soon.” Her mare, Asemaa’kwe, means Tobacco Medicine Woman in Ojibwe.
The foal was born at Kirczenow’s farm outside Dugald, Manitoba.
Ojibwe horses were once plentiful throughout the boreal forests of North America. Records indicate they lived with all the First Nations that congregated in present-day Manitoba, as well as in Ontario and northern United States.
Kirczenow explains, “The last few of the breed were rescued by a partnership of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in 1977 near Lac La Croix First Nation, Ontario. Now, there are about 200.”
There are currently breeding groups of Ojibwe Horses in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and Alabama.
“This filly’s mare came from Ontario two years ago. Her sire, Crane, was in Manitoba last year to participate in the Ojibwe Horse Society’s breeding program. Since he was housed on our farm, we were able to have him cover our mare in the field, and this filly is his first offspring.”
In Manitoba, these small yet powerful horses were used by the Métis for the Red River carts and traditionally lived alongside Indigenous people at their winter camps. They figured prominently as spirit animals as well as helpers for activities such as logging, trapping, and hauling.
The Ojibwe Horse Society has funded studies that show these horses have unique genetic characteristics from other horses. More research is ongoing that suggests Ojibwe Horses may have been in North America prior to European arrival.
For more information contact [email protected]
Media resources are available here including photos, video footage, and video interview with Trevor Kirczenow MacDonald: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1P78V79dErXXxSi54Sene0nv-6EBg3zdE?usp=sharing