Rhonda Snow of RR Spirit Horse Ranch here is seeking help from the community for her rare, endangered breed of Ojibway horses.
A dinner entitled “A Night With Spirit Horses” will take place this Saturday (May 6) at the Copper River Inn to help raise money for the re-colonization of the breed in Fort Frances.
Back in 2003, Snow came into contact with the Ojibway horses through Rare Breeds Canada. She adopted 10 at the time but over the last 12 years, she has come to own 30 horses—some rideable and some wild.
They range in age from two years old to 20.
This breed of horses was abundant in the 1800s in lower Northwestern Ontario and along the Minnesota border. But throughout the 1940s, the breed became almost extinct.
The last stallion was shot in 1965 and at the time there only were four mares left.
A few years later, the mares were bred with a Spanish mustang stallion in Minnesota and through continuous breeding have become pure again.
Snow wants to preserve these horses in their homeland (Northwestern Ontario) so she keeps them safe on her ranch here. But the cost of maintaining the horses has become a financial burden.
She noted the food bills are never-ending and vet costs are heavy.
“The horses cost an enormous amount of money to maintain,” Snow explained.
“We can't afford it on our own," she stressed. "We really need the support of the community.”
Without it, she warned, they will have to send the horses to auction, where they'll have no guarantee of a safe home.
Snow is certified for equestrian learning, and has done therapy with the horses for at-risk youth in the past.
She said it's a service the Ojibway horses are perfect for, but she hasn't been able to run programs in a while because she can't afford insurance.
“I want to offer a place for people to come to heal,” Snow remarked.
“I want people to come see [the horses] and experience them.”
Snow's other accomplishments include receiving the lifetime achievement award last year from Rare Breeds Canada for her work with the horses.
Tickets for Saturday's fundraiser cost $50 each, with $10 from each one sold going towards the care and growth of the horses.
Highlights of the night will include entertainment by the “Late Night Jammers” and a silent auction.
Snow also will have her paintings, which tell the history and stories of the rare breed, on display for sale.
People looking to support the Ojibway horses can buy tickets at the Copper River Inn or Betty's.