By Bill Hudson

HASTINGS, Minn. (WCCO) — Just south of the Town of Coates along state highway 52 is the fenced pasture surrounding a large barn containing 29 stalls. You can think of it as somewhat of a retirement home for aging horses.

“Most of our donations go to feeding the horses,” said founder and president Nancy Turner.

The 501c3 charitable organization was started by Turner in 2012 as a means of taking in the state’s unwanted and neglected horses. About half are retired from racing and the remainder from situations of neglect.

“By donating a horse to This Old Horse they have the assurance that the horse has a safety net in place for the rest of its life,” explains Turner.

But the charitable organization’s 40-year-old horse stable has seen better days. While the structure is generally sound, the individual stalls are anything but.

Steel doors are rusted and broken. While the stall’s paneled walls are badly rotted and showing evidence of large holes in the plywood. Repairing the decay is the motive behind This Old Horse turning to a crowd funding capital improvement campaign.

“We call it stall tactics,” Turner smiles.

They’ll need to raise $25,000 to help repair and rebuild all 29 stalls. So far the campaign has pledges of about a third of what will be needed.

“Our idea is to have this completely gutted and brand new — makes me tear up just to think of that,” Turner says.

Scurrying about the stalls is barn manager, Lacrisha Elliott, who came to the facility as an eager-eyed volunteer.

“I didn’t know anything about horses until I came to This Old Horse — I learned everything here,” explains Elliott.

It’s her job to make sure the horses are fed, cleaned and cared for. Other than the high cost of hay, which has doubled in price due to scarcity, are the veterinary and medical bills.

“It’s $150 to $200 every time he has special shoes put on. Every six weeks we have to change the shoes out to care for the condition he has,” adds Elliott.

And because of that nearly all of the normal funding the organization receives must go for the horses, not the stable.

“These horses are mostly unwanted and rescued and now have the benefit of a safe facility to live in. I think it reflects how much we love them and how beautiful they are to us,” says Turner.

And deserving of safer stalls.

On Saturday, October 26 This Old Horse will host an open house at the stables near Hastings in Dakota County. The public is welcome between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

For more information visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

Bill Hudson