Posted March 5, 2004
Morrison County Record

Neglected horses find a sanctuary on farm near Motley
By Joyce Moran, Co-editor
After 10 years as a race horse, Derik was no longer successful. As a result, he was headed to a slaughter house.

Instead of becoming dog food, however, Derik is enjoying life on a small farm just north of Motley. Called A & L Equine Sanctuary, it is owned and operated by Laurie Parsons and her daughter Alisha.

(Picture: After no longer being successful as a race horse, Derik was slated for the slaughter house. Thanks to Laurie and Alisha Parsons, he is now enjoying his life at their Equine Sanctuary. Alisha’s main task at the sanctuary is with the training of the horses. (03-07-04alequine sanctuary) Staff photo by Joyce Moran)

“I’ve always loved horses,” related Laurie. “But, all I had as a kid was models of horses. Then, when we moved up here six years ago and had the room, I said, ‘Okay, now I can have some horses!’”

Laurie went to auction houses to look for horses. On her visits she found lots of malnourished and neglected horses. Concerned, she started looking for horse rescue groups. “I found the closest one was at Zimmerman,” she reported. “It’s called the Minnesota Hoof Animal Rescue. I called them and asked for information. I wanted to help but I had no clue of what to do for these horses.”

Determined to help neglected horses, Laurie made several trips to the Zimmerman animal rescue, following the owners around and learning how to bring sickly horses back to healthy states. She also read books, talked to horse owners and veterinarians and turned to the internet to learn about the care of horses.

“Do you know that cow hay is not good for horses?” she asked. “There’s not enough nutrients in cow hay for horses. And water—horses need five to 10 gallons of water a day. And, they can’t get that much from eating snow. They need water in front of them 24/7 or they’ll get dehydrated.”

Laurie hopes to eventually take the humane officers course. With this completed, she will have more authority to seize neglected horses. Currently, when she spots one, she simply tries to “work with” the owner so that he or she will give the horse better care.

As Laurie’s interest in horses grew, so did that of Alisha’s. And, while they purchased horses for themselves, they also purchased horses which, while pretty “poor-looking,” showed potential.

“You’d see these feed lot buyers at the auctions,” said Laurie. “Some of them buy sickly horses just to fatten them up and then sell them to kill buyers. Do people really know what happens to their pets when they sell them at an auction?”

Once Laurie and Alisha have made a sick horse well again, it is sold. However, the sale is more like an adoption. “I do reference checks before I sell a horse,” related Laurie. “I make sure the horse will have a good home. Then, after the sale, I still make home visits. And, if the horse isn’t getting good care, we take it back.”

A & L Equine Sanctuary has been in operation for almost two years. In that time, Laurie and Alisha have successfully nourished, healed and adopted out about 35 horses. Currently, they have six horses that they consider their own, and 23 horses they are nursing back to health and will eventually sell.

Making healthy horses out of sickly horses is not cheap. With that in mind, Laurie and Alisha appreciate any donations for the horses that come their way. These could be anything from a tube of horse wormer to a bag of grain.

To learn more about the A & L Equine Sanctuary, or to see the horses that are currently up for adoption, one can go to www.aa One may also write Laurie at 9039 Highway 64 SW, Motley, MN, 56466, or phone her at 218-397-2397.

There are some who see neglect and say, “That’s a shame.” Then there are some who do something about it.

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