Country Woman

Good Neighbors

Shannon Alexander helps horses heal from past trauma, regain trust in humans and get back on their hooves.


Horses hold this volunteer’s heart.

Aneed was growing in Shannon Alexander’s community. People posted about it on Facebook, and Shannon received emails about it. Rather than ignoring the abused, abandoned or sick horses around her, she decided to help alleviate the problem. In trying to find a solution, she founded Western Montana Equine Rescue & Rehabilita­tion.

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” Shannon says, recalling the early days of her operation. She had been around horses her entire life and owned several, so Shannon’s knowledge wasn’t rudimentar­y. But there was a learning curve in converting her 10-stall barn in Victor, Montana, into a place where horses with troubled histories could find sanctuary and, eventually, loving homes of their own.

She began to figure it out in August 2008 with two horses who weren’t abused or injured but had some difficulti­es (one liked jumping over fences, which was a problem). She found new owners to adopt those two, and then in January 2009,

Western Montana Equine Rescue became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. A year later, the organizati­on had what Shannon calls her first

“big, giant experience” as an official sanctuary in 2010.

When another organizati­on went belly-up at the time, three rescues, including Shannon’s, took in the animals. “That’s one of the places I learned the most,” Shannon says. “Dealing with that whole thing—the rehabbing, the veterinari­ans and the animals that had never been worked with, ever—it was educationa­l.”

Today the rescue has a network of horse foster homes as well as Shannon’s barn. She helps horses develop confidence in humans, takes them to the vet and sees to their needs, ensuring that they are exercised, fed, groomed and comfortabl­e.

“Since I started this endeavor, the horses have taught me to listen to them,” she says, adding that every horse the rescue takes in is not a riding candidate—some are much better suited for work as therapy animals or what she calls “pasture pals,” horses who live out their lives as companions.

Shannon says volunteers are important to her organizati­on and encourages those who are interested to lend a hand to a trustworth­y rescue in their community. “The more people know, the more they can turn around and help others, and it can be a rippling effect,” she says.

The rescue’s hands-on help for horses isn’t easy work, but as Shannon says, “It’s the right thing to do.”

For more informatio­n, visit the rescue’s website at westernmon­tana equineresc­

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 ??  ?? Shannon Alexander is fond of all horses, especially ones like Faith, who find themselves in need of a little extra love.
Shannon Alexander is fond of all horses, especially ones like Faith, who find themselves in need of a little extra love.

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