The Lac La Croix Indian pony is one of the most critically endangered pony species in the world. Known as the Ojibwe pony, The Humble Horse Farm in River Falls works to preserve, educate and reconnect the history of the species. This summer the farm had a pony foal on Ojibwe land for the first time in 70 years.
Em Loerzel is the founder of the farm. Loerzel is White Earth Ojibwe and holds a special connection with the animals. She called them an extension of the White Earth Ojibwe way of life.
The pony was born during a thunderstorm. Loerzel named the pony “Animikii” which means “thunder being” in Ojibwe.
Other Ojibwe ponies have been born since the 1950s, but none have been on ancestral Ojibwe land.
The decline of the Ojibwe pony is a story of sadness.
The U.S. government forcibly removed the horses from Native American lands during the early 20th century.
Loerzel connected the government forcibly removing the ponies to Native American history. She said Native Americans and the ponies experience the same treatment of being removed from their land.
Loerzel explained the breed developed in the Ontario region of Canada, but its ancestral lands are in the northern Minnesota and Wisconsin region.
Today there are about 150 ponies throughout the region. Loerzel said the species remains critically endangered.
The farm was expecting a foal, but Loerzel said they did not know how to handle an Ojibwe pony pregnancy. She was nervous and excited when the foal was born.
Today the Ojibwe pony is used to promote indigenous heritage, Loerzel said.
Besides promoting Ojibwe heritage, property owner Johanne Gentlebread said the farm works with Ojibwe ponies to raise awareness about the breed.
No future Ojibwe pony foals are planned, according to Loerzel. The farm will continue to raise look Animikii and other Ojibwe ponies in the future.