We have been breeders of registered miniature horses since 1990,
and although at one time our herd consisted of over 80 registered
horses, we presently have just over 20 horses in our herd. Our horses
are all registered with AMHA, AMHR or ASPC.
Where did this all begin, you ask?
Well a long time ago……One of my very first memories as a young child is of spending an afternoon in a small meadow near my home, Maple Valley Farm, at Gilbert Plains, MB. While I chased crickets in the grass at the edge of the meadow, my dad cut hay with a horse drawn,mower pulled by two Percheron mares. These shiny black beauties were the remnant of a well-known Percheron Breeding Farm, Maple Valley Farm. Later, these horses were sold to make way for the new tractor. Our farm became a dairy farm, raising champion Holstein cattle instead.
The photo albums in the bottom of Mom's cedar chest told of many years of horse shows,of polishing brass and leather, of much hard work but also of many happy times. Satin ribbons embossed with the names of such romantic faraway places as the Toronto Royal and the Chicago Exhibition conjured up dreams of someday following in my family's footsteps. I was particularly intrigued with the stories of Dad driving six horse hitches.
While growing up, there were always saddle horses but never did the gentle giants return. In 1986 when our own children, Jeff and Coreen, were 9 & 10 years old, some of my childhood memories started to haunt me. I had horses "in my blood" and I wanted my children to have that experience too. Rod, who had also grown up on a farm, did not share my enthusiasm. His experience with "hay burners" included the stubborn little ponies that dumped him on his head every chance they got, or the old workhorses, which grudgingly assisted with chores. However, he relented a little and before long we found a 10 acre yard site, just 3 miles from Carman. Soon we had some saddle horses, Dalmatians, as well as various yard animals and pets and all should have been well, but there was something still missing from the dream.
Two years later, while visiting friends in Regina, SK., Coreen, Jeff and I went to Buffalo Days. Although I had seen many pictures and read articles about them, this was my first opportunity to see real Miniature Horses. These Miniature Horses could do most things the big horses could do and even some things the big horses couldn't do. Right then, I knew what was missing on our dream farm. I knew I could never replicate the Percheron breeding business of my father and grandfather, but perhaps, I could raise Miniature Horses. And maybe, just maybe, we could even have a six-horse hitch of blacks, a scaled down version of my dad's hitch.
You may recall that Rod was not as enthusiastic about the return to "rural living". Well, neither was he enthusiastic about this idea of becoming Miniature Horse breeders. However, after a visit to a farm near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the following summer, where we toured the corrals and pasture and then looked at pictures of prize-winning horses over a cup of coffee, Rod was hooked. Later that fall we made arrangements for our first AMHA miniature mare, "Komokos Sexie Lady" to be delivered to Carman. Since then, we have travelled to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, North and South Dakota, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Oregon, Arizona and California making a few purchases and sales, but more importantly making many new friends.
Each year we raise a few foals on our farm. We have carefully selected our breeding stock and with each foaling season we are delighted with great variation of colour in our herd. We are proud of the quality of our horses and we offer a few select horses for sale each year.
In 1997 we realized our dream of a six-horse hitch of blacks. In 2000 we surpassed that goal when our Eight Horse Hitch of Registered Black Miniature Horses made its debut. For over 15 years we drove in parades and gave demonstrations at the Red River Exhibition, Minnesota State Fair, Brandon Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, and numerous local parades and events. Although we no longer have the Hitch, we have many memories and innumerable friends as a result of those experiences.
Although this began as a family venture, Coreen and Jeff have left the nest. Coreen worked for a tree planting company to earn her way through University. After teaching Grade 8 in Manitoba's most northerly community, Churchill, (no horses up there, only polar bears!) and working as a Language Development Teacher on a remote First Nations Reservation called Berens River, Coreen has returned to live in Carman where she teaches Grade 4 in our Elementary School. In March 2002 she married the man of her dreams, Craig Johnston, (a funeral director!) and together they own three Quarter Horses and live here on the farm. Their daughter Kiera was born in 2005 and their son Jaron was born in 2007. Kiera & Jaron have made their debut into the horse world, first entering lead-line, costume classes, showmanship, halter and by the age of 4, driving at several area fairs.
After University, Jeff worked on a horse ranch in Saskatchewan, planted trees in British Columbia & Alberta, and worked in a Livestock Nutrition Plant in Regina. He no longer owns horses but we always appreciate his insight in horse matters. In August 2002, he married the love of his life, Andrea Dubord, (a Middle Years Teacher) and they live in Regina, Saskatchewan. Jeff is the Director of Operations for CanMar Grain Ltd., a company that processes flax for nutrition. In January 2009, they welcomed their son, Nathan into our lives. Their son Isaac joined us in April 2011. We love it when the boys come to visit at the farm.
Since "retiring" as a full time Resource Teacher in the Prairie Rose School Division, I have filled part time contracts, acted as a Faculty advisor for Teacher Candidates at U of M, and substituted in the local schools. Rod left his job as a Credit Manager with Farm Credit Corporation in 1999 when he was diagnosed with Acute Mylogenous Leukemia. He had a successful Auto Stem Cell Transplant and has fully recovered. PTL! We have a whole new outlook on life, enjoying each day with thankfulness. He appreciates every day of his retirement. In recent years, Rod has attained his Judges cards for AMHR and AMHA and enjoys the opportunity to meet even more people with similar interests.
When I began my story, I'm sure you wondered what Percherons had to do with Miniatures. Well, I guess it's just that I have horses "in my blood" and what better way to satisfy the longing than to be involved with Miniature Horses!.......
Each summer we welcome many visitors to our farm. We'd love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us by e-mail, phone or come for a visit and tour in person!