How It Started?
In July 2011, we relocated back to our home in Prince Albert, from an acreage north of Peace River, AB. We purchased an already functioning riding and boarding facility. The previous owners kept their horses on the property for a time; we would co-exist with them and they with us. Our little acreage grew, and they were a wealth of information for us; heritage chickens, a pet pig, a goat, and eventually some sheep and calves.
As a home-schooling family, we dove in head first, and got in over our heads with some “FREE RESCUE PONIES.” I will say this now, if you have never owned a horse before, stay far away from the free or green broke ponies, bite the bullet and pay for a well-trained horse.
Those first three free horses, started the ball rolling and we saw many horses come and go over the next few years and we had many people help us and advise us.
Flower came to us just after the rescue ponies, she was a chuck wagon pony and little did we know she was bred. We had to call our neighbors on Mother’s Day to assist us in pulling a very large still born foal. Anyone who says animals do not have emotions, have never witnessed a young mare grieve her dead baby.
My husband and son were not that interested in the animals, and so it became my daughter Chloe’s and my thing, although the boys did humor us by building fences, pens and coups. We traded most of our stock for ``bigger or better`` horses. We raised sold and butchered chickens and eggs... and bought more critters along the way, one being my first donkey Murphy, who sadly I sold and immediately regretted doing.
Timbit, a miniature horse that carries a special place in my heart, came to us from a family friend. He was skinny, and arrived food aggressive, from being at the bottom of the pecking order in his previous home. Timbit formed a special bond with my niece Brandy, who is hearing impaired. This connection was so, that Chloe and I gifted Timbit to Brandy.
Once Levi & Chloe decided to attend public high school and had after school jobs, all the big horses, and calves, sheep, goats and pet pig were sold. Chloe bought three minis to keep the grass down in the pens. We were told they were broke to ride and drive, but they arrived scared and skittish. Chloe and her friends spent evenings, desensitizing them and getting used to human contact. Eventually we sold two of the three, kept Sugar and was able to buy a 6-month-old jenny donkey, named Sophie, to be a companion for Sugar.
Sugar surprised us with a filly in April the following year. I call Sugar, Sophie & Tikka my original three. This is really where the minis really became more my thing than anybody else’s. I LOVED them. I loved being outside with them, just sitting out in a paddock with them. Other kids would come over and want to ride, we`d see people stopping along the side of the road to watch the minis, and we’d holler and tell them to come and see the minis. People were drawn to them.
A Labor of Love
I started buying, selling and trading, not really knowing what I was doing, but it was fun. Last summer, I took five minis on a trade. Two of them were mushroom colored geldings, and obviously had been together for a long time, but they were feral ponies. They eventually sold.
Chief remained and was a personal favorite. He was beautiful, but he would not walk on a lead. He would not move forward, only backwards. I decided he would never be sold. I think he had been beaten into submission and was terrified of having his back end hit. Then, one day I had an older gentleman come inquiring about Chief. I told him the story, and that he was not for sale. He said, “If I can get him to come to me and walk forward, will you sell him to me?” I honestly didn’t think it would happen, so I agreed. Well, Chief now lives in Batoche over looking the river, and I receive updates on his progress, last year, I got a photo of Chief in their house for Christmas!!
Then there was, Barbie, a palomino mare, with a foal at her side. I wasn’t sure if they would even survive. She was WILD, and probably a first-time mom, her foal was so skinny. I knew I had my work cut out, but she was beautiful. I kept the foal on a long lead rope, and I would go catch him a couple times a day, and just touch him. He had an abscess on his hoof, and a mouth full of open sores. I had him vaccinated and dewormed and with time he grew healthy and strong. It took Barbie five months before she would even take food from my hand or allow a touch. A decision was made to send her to a trainer, and the work that Tashe Wolfe (Lovestruck Miniatures) accomplished in one month was phenomenal.
Another special mini is Candy. She is beautiful, quiet and gentle, but I took her knowing her feet were extremely BAD. I am so grateful for my farrier, Lisa Klenz. Lisa has done amazing work with Candy, and patiently, and diligently corrected her hooves over the past year. I thought for sure Candy would not survive but has done a complete 360.
veral of the minis that have found a home at the ranch have come off the meat truck. Yes, there is a market for horse meat, and unfortunately minis are easily over bred, and the cost of care is like that of a regular sized horse; vaccines, deworming, hoof trimming, dental work, and at times even equine massage or reiki, not to mention feed. You can find yourself with more mouths to feed than you can properly care for. In the past year, I’ve witnessed minis, undernourished, with over grown hooves, full of worms, teeth so bad they can’t properly eat to digest their food. Its the minis that suffer, and often become feral. I too am guilty, of ignorance in breeding my mares because a baby mini would be so cute. I will never breed another mini in my life, after all I’ve seen, I am officially an empty nester, and I guess that’s how the photo shoots started.
I was bored, and recently laid off. I missed having the kids around. I had always dabbled in photography and I loved the minis, so the idea of the Half Pint Ranch and Photo shoot was born. I created an ad on Facebook, and people started coming. We participated in a parade, we had a photo booth set up at the Christopher Lake Western Days, and we started receiving invitations to visit the residents at a nursing home. PetSmart called and invited us to their adoption event, we set up a photo booth there. We received an invite and attended the Saskatoon Pet Expo in November. Our next event, besides the pony photo shoots that I do at home, will be the Spruce Home Pre-Christmas Craft Sale.
The photo booth is set up as one backdrop that I take with me to an event, an you get a mini photo session and one photo to take home. The Photo shoot, on the other hand, is a private event booked in advance and takes place at the ranch. I set up three backgrounds and groom the ponies for the spotlight. The photo shoot itself takes approximately an hour.
This summer I participated in a dog rescue in the middle of the night to a northern community with a young woman that I had never met before. It was like the pony express but for this puppy and organized by an INCREDIBLE network of women. Christina Pheil, Wendy Fyrk, and Jackie King, of groups like Sask Ally Cats, Paws Up North, and the Saving Grace Animal Society. After the pet adoption at PetSmart, I wanted to get involved. I wanted to help these ladies with their rescue groups, so $5 from every Photo booth sale is donated to one of these wonderful organizations to Aid in their work. I’m not an official rescue, nor do I consider myself that, although sometimes I wish I was as there are SO many minis needing homes.
I couldn’t do what I do without my network of friends and volunteers. My daughter Chloe helps set up backdrops and groom horses for events, my niece Brandy Marchand is also my go to girl for events. My friend Tami Wall is always willing to help, and she’s an amazing advocate for the minis. I have another young lady who volunteers at my place just spending time with the horses. They need time spent with them, and so, she comes and works with them when she can. I sincerely can’t thank my volunteers enough for their help.
Ideally, I'd love to get involved more in rescues, and doing more photoshoots to assist in paying for food & health care. Recently, I was given an opportunity to purchase a Scottish Highland cow, and I would LOVE to integrate “Ingrid”, into photoshoots as well. I also have my special care aide certificate and would love to work with someone in Animal Assisted Therapy. There was never a plan for this, it just happened. I feel there’s a lot of potential here to do something great, whether it's just fun photoshoots, pony rescues, or helping other animal rescues. I’m excited, and perhaps a little scared, but this journey has definitely morphed into a tapestry of many beautiful people and experiences.
Tanya Parenteau Peters is a simple small-town girl who grew up in a farming community. She married her high school sweetheart and homeschooled her children. She is a tapestry of talents being a care-aide by trade, a reflexologist, a hobby farmer, and a wanna-be artist and photographer. Her husband's work related injury changed their lives forever and set in motion a series of events that led them to their current home and the adoption of many ponies.