Who are you?
Our caretaker team is a husband and wife duo, River Coakwell and Em Loerzel. Em is White Earth Ojibwe and the founder of The Humble Horse, a social work academic researching Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and other intimate partner violence issues. River works in aviation and is an aspiring pilot. We also have a dynamic team of a board of directors, majority Ojibwe. All caretakers and board members are entirely volunteers, so they don't get paid for their time or efforts. They do it for the love of the herd they get to care for.
What are the ponies like? Where can I get one?
Our ponies have big personalities and are generally friendly and curious. They keep us laughing. We do not sell our herd- They are permanent residents here at the farm. We do not have any of our ponies up for leasing or adoption. We are working on something that could support that option in the future, and this is one of our "5-year" goals.
When asking how to become a caretaker for an Ojibwe pony, ask yourself a few things: Why do you want one? Are you dedicated to reconnection and repatriation with the people who were their family members (Anishinaabe people) for eons? Are you willing to be reflective and critical of your motives for caretaking if non-indigenous? These are the beginning steps of thinking about becoming an ally caretaker. Because the numbers are so small, it is vital that people also take conservation efforts seriously.
How can I help?
We rely on the generosity of our community! The only people involved in our organizations who get paid for their efforts are our horse trainers, often students from the UW-RF equine program. We believe in supplying students with a fair wage, and our ponies benefit from basic ground training to be the best equine citizens to interact with our visitors and on outings safely. However, our caretakers and board members are entirely volunteer- Meaning that all the donations our organization receives go back to the care and wellness of our herd and to help facilitate outreach events into the community. We use donations for fencing, food, hay, farrier, vet services, and a slew of other things the ponies need to keep them healthy and happy.
What are your breeding plans?
We do not consider ourselves breeders but are working with UW-RF's Equine Reproduction program to develop a plan to safely increase pony numbers. Many of our herd members are related, so breeding them can cause sick and inbred offspring. This part of our program is in current development.
Can I come visit?
Of course, we love them! We generally welcome visitors on select Saturdays from 11a-5p. You can email email@example.com to get more details. No dogs (ADA service dogs welcomed!), smoking, drinking, or open-toe shoes are allowed on the premise for your safety and the herd. The farm is home to humans and horses, so please be respectful and use common sense. By visiting, you assume any risk or liability from visiting equines.