A horse stable in Chatham-Kent has become home to a herd of Ojibwe Spirit Horses.
Terry Jenkins recently acquired a herd of 15 wild mares and stallions from Fort Francis, which is located in northwestern Ontario and introduced them to their new home at TJ Stables.
"I was able to purchase the entire herd [from Rhonda Snow] just to keep them all together," said Jenkins. "Originally in 1977, [these horses] had been eradicated down to three and since then there has been a chain of crusaders trying to bring them back."
Jenkins said she had been looking to acquire these horses since she started her business 35 years ago.
"These are descendants of the Walpole Island ponies," she said. "I thought it would be really cool to find them and maybe reintroduce them to the island."
Jenkins said within 25 minutes of arriving in Fort Francis to pick-up the horses, a mare gave birth to a foal. Jenkins said for Snow to hand over the newborn foal, it made for a symbolic moment between the two.
"It was an overwhelming feeling of love that you would feel when you held your child for the first time," she said.
"Throughout the years [Snow] has been gathering stories of the Ojibwe ponies and spirit horses and how they have been servants to Indigenous people," said Jenkins. "[Her] art portrays these stories."
The horses only just arrived at TJ Stables last week, but Jenkins said it seemed as though they immediately felt at home.
"When we opened the trailer door and they stepped out, they ran as a group. There were some folks here watching and every one of them got goosebumps and tears in their eyes," she said. "It was amazing!"
An open house will be held at TJ Stables on August 18 so that people can meet the horses, speak with Snow and see some of her artwork. The open house will start at 11 a.m. and run as a full-day event. A second open house will take place on September 2.
Looking further ahead, Jenkins has big plans for the herd.
"We would like to use these horses for emotional and physical therapy," she said. "Of the herd, there are about three horses that are trained so we'll be using them in our exceptional riders program. Eventually, our goal would be to be involved with the Indigenous communities."
Although Jenkins said they would like to reintroduce the Ojibwe Spirit Horses to Walpole Island, she still has to go through proper conversations with the band council.
https://www.facebook.com/JUBEZ24/videos/10156435495508170/ Video courtesy of TJ Stables/ via Facebook