Show Host: C S Wurzberger, The Green Up Girl
Guest: Emily Chetkowski, Villi Poni Sanctuary
Emily Chetkowski founder of the Villi Poni Sanctuary is on a mission to protect this amazing breed from extinction. Not long ago, thousands of Newfoundland Ponies were slaughtered for meat, nearly to extinction. Today only about 350 remain in existence. 30 of those reside in the USA, 7 a the Villi Poni sanctuary.
More about Emily Chetkowski:
Since falling head over heels for a part-bred Newfoundland Pony some years ago, children’s author Emily Chetkowski’s interest in equines changed from being a casual rider to embarking on a full-fledged non-profit mission to help the breed recover. Villi Poni Farm sanctuary, a qualified Charitable organization located in southern New Hampshire, is home to a lovely herd of registered Newfoundland Ponies, where the public is welcome for tours and special events that bring awareness to this landrace breed. The sanctuary’s mission is to not only work to save the pony but to educate about the conservation approach in order to cultivate homes essential to the preservation of this genetically diverse, unadulterated landrace.
Though they do some breeding, Emily feels it is essential the pony is in the hands of conservation knowledgeable people, and as such much of her time is spent writing, teaching and conversing on the subject. However, she believes that every pony must first be considered as an individual, and their importance becomes more than just breeding lines, but a collective treasure. She started and maintains a website and Facebook page dedicated to helping Newfoundland ponies find good homes, motivated by the senseless shooting of a beautiful pony at the hands of people who just didn’t understand. Considered by many to be a “mutt” and not a breed at all, with many wishing to put this proven distinct landrace breed under a livestock breed “improvement” program, the pony faces dangers from many sources and the challenge to educate is daunting. She was recently involved with the successful move of a herd of lovely ponies in need, from the western coast to the eastern coast of Canada, a 4000 mile journey, despite controversy, criticism, and the unexpected obstacles that appeared along the way. That herd represented 10% of the breeding population and amongst them were rare lines and other lines that had dwindled in Newfoundland and the maritimes.
Emily believes one of the best ways to change mistaken thinking is to offer hands on learning, to see and experience in person what a breed whose ultimate goal is survival and the incredible disposition and brain that goes with, is like. Because of their willing, kind, people-trusting temperament, the first all-Newfoundland Pony Equine Assisted Learning program in the world will be offered at the sanctuary starting this summer, thereby providing a good service to the community as well. Besides being president of the sanctuary’s board of directors, Emily is also the Vice President of the provincially designated Newfoundland Pony Society, which holds and runs the only official registry of the Newfoundland Pony.