Pet Project

A little hard work never hurt anyone” reads the sign on the prominent gate that all visitors drive under on their way up to Yvette and Hank’s farm, outside of Whitehorse.

I had the pleasure of visiting “The Farm” a few years ago, on Yvette’s birthday. Like all the guests, I was impressed by the beautiful view, the handsomely constructed and decorated home, the tidy corrals and property, the neat rows of farmed earth and the large pile of rocks off to the side. This was no ‘Yukon special.’ Someone had gone to a lot of work to create and maintain this lovely property. That someone was Yvette. Originally from Alberta, she had purchased the unbroken land and mostly vacant property, and has lived and worked on it since 2011. She’d always wanted a farm and wasn’t afraid of rolling her sleeves up and doing a ‘little hard work’ to fulfill her dreams.

Yvette completed construction on a cabin and then the main home. Afterwards, together with her husband, they turned their sights to farming the land. They were originally kept company by their dogs, later acquiring a pony and a miniature donkey, and even raising pigs. Have I mentioned that Yvette also works full-time, five days a week, in town? So what does a hard-working couple do for fun when they have a little spare time on their hands? (Or even if they don’t?) They get themselves a new pet project. In this case, a herd of miniature horses!

It all started out innocently enough.

“A friend was downsizing and we had the land. My husband grew up with horses and it seemed like the perfect fit,” said Yvette.

Not ones to do anything half-assed (no offense to their actual hard-working miniature donkey), Yvette and Hank welcomed to The Farm a “herd” of one female and four studs. Ever organised, Yvette admits that the first day was a little chaotic. The horses had just been trucked up from Alberta and had not previously been kept in the same pen. However, it wasn’t long before the little herd settled in and then multiplied! Much to Yvette’s excitement, the mare gave birth to a tiny (just 15 pounds!) foal in April 2018. She named him Sterling on account of his metallic gray coat.

Miniature horses are not ponies. Ponies are a different breed. “Minis” are defined by their small height of a maximum of 38 inches at the withers. (the highest part of a horse’s back.) That is their adult height, so one can imagine how cute a foal would be!

“Oh, I fell in love with him right away!” said Yvette. “That last month I had been checking the mare many times a day. Then she had her foal and Hank went away for a week, so it was just me and the horses, so I spent a lot of time with them. Sterling got to know me from day one, very well.”

The love affair didn’t end there. Sterling continues to grow on Yvette and his playful personality provides comic relief on The Farm. “He’s like a toddler,” she said. “He’s at that mischievous stage right now. If you are wearing a hat and bend down, he’ll take the hat off your head. He’ll pull at the loops on your pants. He’ll try and undo the zipper on your coat! He’ll pull the hose out of the water bucket!”

I asked if Yvette can see his corral from the house and she confirmed she could. “Oh yes, I can watch him biting knees, tormenting donkey. Oh yes, I can see Hank chasing him to get his hat back.”

Despite all his shenanigans (Sterling has even learned how to turn the water tank off!), the biggest challenge in owning the miniature horses is Mother Nature. “Winter chores when it’s really cold, when their water is freezing. Trying to stay on top of that so they always have drinking water available. That’s the biggest chore” said Yvette. Sterling has been trained to wear a halter and walk with Yvette. Once he puts on a bit more weight, he’ll be taught to pull a small carriage. His main purpose, however, is to torment the other horses and be the lovable, and humorous, pet that he is.

Yvette clearly enjoys Sterling’s frisky personality and the fun he’s brought to The Farm. I asked Yvette if Hank adores Sterling as much as she does. There was a long pause. “Probably not,” she said, laughing. “Well, yes he does. Hank definitely adores the horses. “

Actions speak louder than words. The couple is planning on breeding their mare and continuing life on The Farm with miniature horses into the foreseeable future. After all, what’s life without a little hard work and some four-legged company?

Sterling and mom a month after his birth

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