According to Lorraine Bailer, there is a misconception about how Shetland ponies are regarded. “Everyone thinks a Shetland is one of those ‘miserable little ponies I had when I was a child,’” says Lorraine.
“Those ponies that people thought were miserable were just probably a grade pony that children ride and they did not have the strength or knowledge to steer the pony or teach it so the pony got away with a lot of stuff on the little riders! Today these animals look and move like beautiful horses and have great dispositions, so let’s put the bad cliché to rest.”
Lorraine and her husband Darcy of Wolf Creek Ranch in Wetaskiwin have been actively raising the profile of Shetland ponies throughout North America.
Lorraine started with Arabians, then moved to breeding, raising, and showing Miniature Horses in the AMHA and AMHR. She achieved multiple World National Champion Titles, Futurity Champion titles, multiple National Champion titles, Reserve Champion titles, National top tens, and top ten all-star championships.
Currently, Wolf Creek Ranch specializes in the Shetland. They have Foundation Classic Shetland’s and Modern Shetland’s, their specialty, which combines the historic hardiness of the Classic Shetland Pony with inspired movement and a spirited personality. Moderns are classified under The American Shetland Pony Club registry.
At the new Ponoka Ag Building earlier this year, Lorraine was showing one of her stallions. Moderns command attention and her stallion thrives off of the audience’s cheers. “They have a type of charisma about them,” Lorraine says, “You can feel the force behind them when they move.” People followed her back to the barn to find out what breed of horse she was showing.
For the last three years, Lorraine has been showing at the Shetland Congress, where she has been the only Canadian representative. Over the three years, she has received a total of 19 National Shetland Congress Championships, five National Grand Championships and numerous Reserve Championships with Top Tens.
Other than at Wolf Creek Ranch, there are no other Modern Shetlands in Western Canada; they were the first to bring the breed to Alberta.
They currently have two stallions, E’s Little Man, who stands at their ranch and another stallion who stands in Philadelphia. Lorraine also has two geldings that she shows, one is located in Alberta and one in the U.S. In addition, they have four mares, two in the U.S. and two here in Alberta. Wolf Creek Ranch is expecting one foal next year.
According to Lorraine, Modern Shetlands are the quintessential “pretty pony” of your dreams. They are flashy when standing in a field and exhilarating to drive. Moderns can also be broke to ride for children.
Lorraine is passionate about educating people about Shetlands. “With our selectively bred and multi-award winning stock for our small breeding farm, we are making a difference in the equine world here in Alberta and Western Canada,” comments Lorraine.