“Pippi” is only a week old, but is considered a very special addition to the equine universe.

Pippi is a Newfoundland pony, and Newfoundland ponies are a critically endangered breed.

“She’s also, to the best of our knowledge, the first Newfoundland pony ever born in Huron County,” said Vanessa Strike, the owner of Poppy’s Haven Farm.

Strike and her family bought this farm near Varna, Ont. last year, in order to help rejuvenate the Newfoundland pony breed.

In the 1970s there were 12,000 Newfoundland ponies roaming Newfoundland Island, working on farms and fisheries, hauling nets and hay and wagons. But, the implementation of farm machinery and bylaws that outlawed the open grazing of the working — but usually wild horse breed — almost made them extinct.

Pippi the pony and her mother Avi at Poppy’s Haven Farm near Varna, Ont. on June 23, 2022. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

“They were primarily exported for meat. A lot sold to Québec. Exported to Belgium and France for human consumption. By the early 80s there were only 80 Newfoundland ponies left in the world,” said Strike.

There are still only 500 Newfoundland ponies worldwide.

Strike bought her first nine years ago, and that number has since grown to six, now that they have their farm near Varna.

Her family’s goal is not only to return this heritage pony breed to prominence, but also restart an equine facilitated wellness and assisted learning program they were operating near London.

“In addition to our heritage breed, we have a heritage barn. We’re bringing these two together because we think it’s a wonderful environment that’s conducive to the type of mental health programs, we want to run,” she said.

You can learn more about Pippi and Poppy’s Haven Newfoundland pony farm by visiting their website.

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