Ojibwe Spirit Horses in Ontario
Learn about the history of this special animal and find out where you can see and interact with them in person.
About Ojibwe Spirit Horses
Ojibwe Spirit Horses are smaller and furrier than most horse breeds, with physical traits like thick manes and hard hooves that make them well-suited to snowy, rocky, and forested terrain.
These horses can also be identified by their tiger-like leg stripes, a dorsal dark stripe along their back, and an extra nose flap and furry ears to protect them from the cold Canadian winters.
Intelligent, sweet, and sturdy, Ojibwe Spirit Horses make ideal therapy animals and close companions.
History of Ojibwe Spirit Horses
Ojibwe Spirit Horses are said to have roamed the traditional lands of Turtle Island (North America) for thousands of years before other horse breeds were introduced by Europeans.
Indigenous Peoples have enjoyed a harmonious spiritual and working relationship with Ojibwe Spirit Horses throughout their long shared history.
In the early 1900s, thousands of Ojibwe Spirit Horses could be found in Indigenous communities across Ontario.
However, colonizers viewed the horses as a nuisance for eating their crops and ruining their fields. Ojibwe Spirit Horses were hunted almost to extinction, and by the 1970s, there were just four mares left. These last four horses were deemed a health risk and ordered to be euthanized by the government.
A courageous group of Indigenous men rescued the horses under the cover of darkness and smuggled them over frozen lakes and across the border to a safe reserve in Minnesota. Eventually, they were bred with a Spanish mustang stallion.
Thanks to the efforts of dedicated breeders, the Ojibwe Spirit Horses population has slowly begun to increase, numbering almost 200 today.
Ojibwe Spirit Horses in Ontario today
In Ontario, these farms and stables care for Ojibwe Spirit Horses and are committed to ensuring the survival of the breed:
TJ Stables in Southwestern Ontario
TJ Stables offers a carefully curated three-hour immersive experience where you’ll spend your time meeting their Spirit Horses and learning about Indigenous culture.
Huddle around the campfire at a Métis fur trade tipi encampment and hear stories that detail Indigenous peoples’ bonds with Spirit Horses. Listen to vibrant Métis fiddle music and Indigenous drumming, as well as the entertaining stories of an adventurous fur trader.
This experience is $125 per adult, $75 per child aged 4 to 12 years and children under three years of age get in for free. You can also stay overnight in a tipi for an extra $175. Book your reservation in advance.
Location: 837 Gregory Drive East, Chatham
Mādahòkì Farm near Ottawa
Located in the scenic Ottawa Greenbelt, Mādahòkì Farm showcases Indigenous culture, history, food and arts. Mādahòkì is Algonquin for “share the land,” and this philosophy is evident in the farm’s unique educational, cultural, and reconciliation space.
You can meet their eight Ojibwe Spirit Horses during various events on the farm, such as the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival, the Sīgwan Spring Festival and the Tagwàgi Festival.
Many of the farm’s onsite events are free, with limited parking available.
For more information on future events and dates, check the Mādahòkì Farm website.
Location: 4420 W Hunt Club Road, Nepean
Abbey Gardens in Haliburton Highlands
Abbey Gardens is a forward-thinking community greenspace that promotes sustainable living. It’s also the home of two Ojibwe Spirit Horses, Sammy and Maple.
Take a selfie and interact with these two horses during “Pony Time”: a 45-minute session that will also teach you how to feed, groom and use basic horse commands. Or make your visit a women’s day out with the “Ladies Night” program, where you’ll enjoy fun exercises and activities that will help you bond with both the horses and your friends.
Registration for programs can be made online.
Grey Raven Ranch in Northwestern Ontario
Opened in 2014, Grey Raven Ranch is run by husband and wife duo Darcy Whitecrow and Kimberlee Campbell with the goal of saving the Ojibwe Spirit Horses and preserving local Indigenous knowledge.
Stop by the ranch for the chance to chat with the caretakers and meet the herd of Spirit Horses. The ranch also runs an Indigenous youth program where kids can learn about the history and traditions related to the Ojibwe Spirit Horses, as well as how to lead and care for the horses.
To arrange a time to visit, fill out the contact form on the Grey Raven Ranch website.
Location: Seine River First Nation, Mine Centre
Aspens Ojibwe Horse Sanctuary near Stratford
Five beautiful Ojibwe Spirit Horses live at Aspens Ojibwe Horse Sanctuary.
This 6.5-hectare horse haven holds “Open Barn” events on the first Saturday of the month in May, June, October and November. On these days, you can visit the Ojibwe Spirit Horses on the property and learn more about the work being done today to protect the breed.
Alternatively, visits to Aspens Ojibwe Horse Sanctuary can be arranged by booking an appointment over the phone or by email.
Location: 2624 Line 47, Gads Hill
Search for more Indigenous Experiences across Ontario by region or by activity.
Last updated: September 27, 2023