CENTREVILLE, Md. (WJZ)—It’s believed to be the largest case of horse abuse in Maryland history. More than 130 horses are found in terrible health on a farm in Queen Anne’s County.

Kelly McPherson explains the horses were seized and some had to be put down.

About 133 horses were seized from the Canterbury Farm on the Eastern Shore Friday morning dying of starvation and neglect.

“To see a situation of this magnitude, it’s heart-breaking,” said Stacy Segal, Humane Society of the United States.

Canterbury Farm’s web site labels itself as America’s largest breeder of Polish Arabian horses, promising buyers they’ll feel like they’re “watching puppies in horse clothing” when they visit.

That’s not what the sheriff’s department and Humane Society discovered.

They are taking away all of them.

“The horses here are significantly underweight, have parasites, need hoof work, dental work, lice infestation. Just an all around neglect situation,” said Dave MacGlashan, Director of Queen Anne’s County Animal Services.

“There’s no muscle mass or fat tissue left on their body,” said Marci D’Alessio, Days End Farm Horse Rescue board member. “What their body has done is cannibalized it all to survive.”

In a few hours, the Humane Society found private farms and charities to board and care for all 133 horses, a seemingly impossible task.

Days End Farm Horse Rescue and Paradise Stables are taking 83 of the neglected horses.  They all need critical care, which costs $2,500 per month per horse.

The malnourished horses are still skittish but seem anxious to be where much needed medical treatment and food—they may have never had—await.

“Generally, when you shake a can of grain they perk their head up and come toward you because they know it’s food,” D’Alessio said.

“It’s very sad that they’re as sickly as they are, but to see them for the first time maybe ever on grass was awesome,” said Elizabeth Tate Winters, Paradise Stables owner. “Not everybody in their lifetime has an opportunity to say ‘That’s my thumbprint, I made a difference.’”

Most, if not all, of the care needed for the horses will depend upon donations.

If you’re interested in making a donation to Days End Farm Horse Rescue, click here. For more information about the Humane Society of the United States, click here.

Comments (39)
  1. Evelyn Dallas says:

    This went on for a year, yet no neighbors were aware of it? Then I am the Easter Bunny. Ignoring such abuse is a crime itself, or should be.

    1. jana frost says:

      She is now getting 40 of the abused horses back this week! SHAME!!! Please share on FB..thank you..

      1. Betsy says:

        Turns out most of the footage, and photos … was doctored!!!

  2. Bullfrog says:

    The owners of these gorgeous horses need to be straved, placed in an infestation of lice and not allowed to clip their finger/toe nails for at least one year. Then they should have to serve 1 year for each horse for each neglect charge. These people are the lowest form of trash, and should be prosecuted separately for each charge.

    1. equine lover says:

      First you need to know the facts – not the glorified, sensationalism the the media feeds you.

  3. honeybadger says:

    Marsha Parkinson should be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows. It doesn’t matter the reason for this catastrophe (greed, poor planning, economy, etc.). If you look at a (Google) satellite map it shows several acres of bare land where the horses cannot graze at all, but the area surrounding her LUXURIOUS home is green as an emerald!! She should be ashamed of herself and ROT IN HELL for the inhumane treatment she inflicted on these poor creatures she and many others have made so much money of of!!

    1. Marian DeRossett says:

      This is horrible to do this to these horses.They are beautiful animals and this woman should be punished to the full extent of the law and never own another animal again,any kind of animals.If she was unable to care for them then she should have called someone to take them.There is no excuse for this.I wish I could have a horse and give it a home but not able to.As a Marylander I hope this woman gets what she so deserves.To hide behind saying this was a great place for them is so disgusting.A very concerned animal lover.

  4. Leigh Ann Erdman says:

    I am not going to judge the actions of the owner, all I am going to say is that the wonderful people at Days End and the people who are offering up foster space for these magnificent animals are heroes. I will be sending in a donation this weekend.

  5. Feebe says:

    The chance of the heard in Queen Anne’s County belong to the people of Poland is very possible. And we’re forgotten due to the tragic lose of the Polish President in a plain crash. That is not your average heard or land.

  6. Doug says:

    Too many horses.
    too many cats, dogs
    and way too many of us.

  7. Lisa says:

    Please help Days End and the others that helped these poor Horses. If you like you can call the farm in Cernterville @ 443-262-9525, and let them know what you think. When I called to ask why she allowed this too happen she said “what horses?” You can also email them http://www.polisharabianhorses.com/.

  8. sheriff says:

    Goofy people & the so called animal control is just as bad. What the hell do these people do to justify their existence & salaries.??

    1. Lisa says:

      Sheriff…Who justifies the existence of somelike you? Coward… (somebody who anonymously harms those who cannot defend themselves) cant even use your name

  9. Carrie says:

    So sad. People can be so selfish and cruel.

    Thank you Days End for your effort in saving those that can not save themselves 🙂

  10. Kelly says:

    My husband and friends are a part of the transporting of these beautiful horses to the rescue farms, and seeing them up close its heartbreaking the conditions that they are in. They are scared, hungry need bathing, grooming, worming, and a lot of other things done to rehabilitate these poor horses. But it was easy for her (the owner) to conceal such a horrendous crime, because where the horses were allowed to be it was shielded from the road and neighbors, thus letting her do what she wanted. Hopefully no charges will be dropped against her, because she can get 1 count for animal cruelty for every horse on the farm, we as Maryland citizens need to make sure she is prosecuted to the full extent and help the rescue farms with all the future care of the horses until they can be adopted to loving farms.

    1. equine lover says:

      I sure am not going to donate to any org/ rescue towards an illegal seizure.

      It would be very interesting to see how many on this thread are horse owners.

      1. Amanda says:

        What makes you believe the seizure was illegal? I work with the 10 Gentle Giants took in on a daily basis. There wasn’t one horse with a BCS over 3. The oldest horse is estimated to be 14 years of age. So, “old” excuse flies out the window (not that any old horse is supposed to be skinny- if you can’t keep them fat, you shouldn’t have any horses!)! None of their feet had been trimmed in over a year, and they all show signs of having foundered (event lines and extremely stretched white lines). They hadn’t been groomed in goodness-knows-how-long, and all have matting, wind knots, and dreadlocks. One mare in particular has her whole tail matted into one big dreadlock, which is going to take a couple of months to tease out. All had lice when we got them, and we are battling their intestinal worm loads as well.

        Look at these pictures: http://saveadraft.blogspot.com/2011/05/polish-arabian-mares-part-iii.html

        Tell me, if the horses were skinny because they were old (which the majority of them are less than 7), why is it they have put on so much weight in the TWO WEEKS since we’ve had them in our care?

        Also, QAC AC gave them MONTHS to clean up their act! This seizure didn’t come out of nowhere. They were fully justified in removing ALL animals. Did you not read that 13 were so bad off that even her own vet agreed they needed to be euthanized on-site?

        And how does it make sense to leave the animals SHE STARVED on her property? It certainly wasn’t doing any good to the horses! Why should people have to trek out to her house every day to feed the horses she obviously was incapable of caring for, when they have the proper facilities with food and volunteers elsewhere that isn’t in the middle of nowhere?

  11. jaque says:

    These are the people in the horse industry your governor is seeking to give more money to from slots in order for their votes.

    1. equine lover says:

      Then why would the horse be hungry? This lobby sure worked didn’t it?

  12. Andrew Steen says:

    Although I don’t have any first-hand facts, reading between the lines of all of these very adverse newspaper articles on the Internet, I personally think that Marsha is getting a bum rap! As I understand it, the horses that were originally impounded were all of very advanced age, between 25 and 35 years-old. Anyone who knows anything about equines knows that in advanced age their teeth start to fall out and they are incapable of eating sufficient feed to maintain their normal body weight. Like every other animal on this planet, they eventually starve to death.

    It seems to me that there are a lot of vested interests at play in this case and too many people are jumping to conclusions that may not be true at all. I have known Marsha Parkinson since 1969 and have seen her magnificent well-cared for herd of Polish horses. The news-hungry press just loves to over-blow and sensationalize these stories and often they do so without very much foundation.

    The articles tell us that it will take a million dollars to care for these horses for the next SIX months! What a pile of Bulls**t ! Do they plan to house them in the Plaza hotel? This is probably just a typicle ploy to get donations to fund the rescue center.

    It seems to me that everyone is being too quick to pounce-upon and judge Marsha without knowing all of the facts. For 40 years or more her dedication and contributions to the Arabian horse have been both significant and substantial!

    1. Analise says:

      They eventually starve to death?!?!?

      I’ve seen a lot of older rescue horses and I’ve seen a lot of horses need to be put down or who passed away. NONE of them did so because they were old and “starved to death”. The rescue I volunteer at (Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue, who ALSO opened their farm up to 10 of these Arabians and helped catch and transport more last Friday among SEVERAL rescues who helped in this effort) currently has a THIRTY-FIVE year old mare with a heart murmur, bad teeth, and organ damage from prior starvation but with PROPER feeding and good care you know what? SHE’S NOT SKINNY.

      The “they’re skinny because they’re old” excuse is just that.

      I certainly can believe that this woman was a well-respected breeder and horsewoman but that doesn’t mean that just because she took good care of these horses in the past that she is now capable of caring for them in the present (or the future). Every photo and video I’ve seen from this farm shows skinny, unkempt horses with wormy bellies still hanging on to their winter fuzz. Not the sleek, shiny, well-cared for horses you’d expect from a farm of that caliber.

    2. equine lover says:

      You are among the !% that are sane and thinking.

    3. Amanda says:

      What planet are you from, to believe that all animals starve to death?!?!?!

      The VAST majority of the horses impounded are estimated to be less than 15 years of age, with most being less than 10. Do you think that’s OLD? What on earth justifies someone having 150 horses they can’t feed, and still BREEDING more mouths to feed?

      Tell this mare she was in good enough condition to be left in Marsha’s custody: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-77y9RjlGa4s/TdF0w8HQ5eI/AAAAAAAAABE/ImRmgk1gYZw/s1600/%252361_Arrival.jpg
      The vet confirms she was pregnant, but due to her condition, she lost the foal around a month ago, which was probably close to full-term!

      What justifies that?

      Just because someone USED to be able to care for 150 head of horses doesn’t mean they can’t fall prey to the economy. It’s Marsha’s fault she didn’t ask for help before it was too late for those 13 horses, and it’s Marsha’s fault she kept breeding when she wasn’t selling anything.

    4. Arabian Lover says:

      What planet are you from where all old animals are allowed to starve to death? No animal should be allowed to suffer that fate. You are way off base in your comments. I volunteer at one of the rescues which has some of these horses. They are mostly YOUNG mares, between 4-10 years old, according to our vet. They are all woefully underweight, have skin conditions, very overgrown feet (to the point two of them were lame when they arrived), grossly neglected and malnourished. There is no excuse for any horse owner – or any other animal owner – to have allowed this to happen. These horses have suffered, they haven’t been handled, their manes and tails are in knots, their hair is falling out leaving bald patches, they had ill-fitting halters on that left sores on their faces, they are so terrified of people it takes ages to catch them to take care of them. It is reprehensible, and it is the owner’s responsibility to take care of them, and her fault that she did not. There is no excuse, even if she had to give them away, she should have thought of their welfare, instead she was thinking that the market would bounce back and she would be able to sell them for tons of money like she did in the past. And to keep allowing them to breed when she wasn’t able to care for the ones she already had? Inhumane. Insensitive. I have no words for the disgust I feel for a person who could do this.

  13. hOLLY says:


  14. LInda Lincoln says:

    To reallly help the County should take ownership of all of the horses from this owner both those on the property and any that may have been away at the tiime of the seiizure. Then a register should be compiled of people who are responsible, financial horse owners with access to good facilities who can offer permanent homes to these lovely horses and legally be alllowed to adpot them. All of the horses on the property willl have shared in the suffering of those who were the worst affected. they will all need TLC and remedial work to repair the physical, mental and spiritual damage. My heart goes out to them. Linda Lincoln

    1. equine lover says:

      Are you out of your mind?

      Don’t you think we have lost enough of our freedoms and you advocate seizing horses not even on the property?

      You want a legal war? You will get it…….I lease one of her horses, breed it to my stallion at my expense and then you waltz in and take the mare? I think NOT!

  15. Ruth says:

    I hope that people realize they don’t know the whole story. That TV time generates donations. That Days End is on QUARANTINE yet still bringing in severely at risk animals.
    That YES older horses ARE many times unthrifty and difficult keepers. And finally NO that does not excuse any consious neglect. As for the horses being ‘hidden’. There’s a stallion barn…pathetically run down inside and several pastures of which one runs along quite a long distance along a paved public road. The farm isn’t on the ‘beaten’ path and the horses don’t always gather near the road. Being shaggy I suspect no one realized till they started to shed out how bad they had gotten. These are race bred and show bred athletes with many imports and leased from Europe/Poland. Since arabians are NOT raced in the state of Maryland…WHAT funding???? The crime no one understands is these bloodlines will be lost as well. The jackals are on the attack and as usual wait till their prey is down first before going in to nip and bite.
    Why were the majority of the herd not treated and cared for on site?….too anticlimatic, no chopper drama aerial shots of terrified horses being ‘saved’ by chasing them through fencing. Both sides of this event is tragic.

  16. Angfreda says:

    Ruth -A difficult keeper is one you are trying to keep weight on, this woman had almost 150 horses, how would you expect her to care for ALL of them, incl the intensive care a difficult keeper requires? A horse should never starve to death regardless of why s/he can not utilize their feed. No matter the reason for that starvation it is a hideous, inhumane death. If she did not realize they were thin until they started to shed out that says she did not put hands on them daily, which is what good farms do to insure that their animals are ok. Not hard to imagine she did not have the time/energy to do that with 150 to care for
    As for DEF quarantine, they are NOT putting these Arabs at the facility where the Quarantined horses are.
    As for keeping the horses on site to rehab? Many reasons, incl. legal and liability issues.

    1. equine lover says:

      On site could and has been done so that is a cop out.

      No, but they could have cross contamination.

  17. Buck says:

    Is this supposed to be a news station? I am so confused with the math here, the reporter says 66 were removed as does the Humane Soc. lady, so were are the other 67 of them , still there? And how does Days End and the other farm have 83 of the horses? Does it really take $2500 a month ($83 a day) to take care of a malnourished horse, that seems like a lot of money. (That is 50 lbs of feed and 2 60 lb bailes of HIGH quality hay a day? I just looked that one up on a feed store site.) Then again I know there is vet cost and help needed to clean these poor guys up so maybe that is the cost? Seems like the news is not doing a service to the rescue folks by totally messing up the numbers.

    1. equine lover says:

      Glad you are a thinking person. Fuzzy math for donations that may or may not go to the horses.

      Take HSUS — 1% to actually have anything to do with animals — the rest, salaries, lobbying to end all animal breeding – read their bylaws. But by George, take a high profile case like this and they are all over soliciting for funds! Feeding frenzy from kind caring folks that haven’t a clue.

  18. equine lover says:

    It comes down to WE were not there, WE do not know the condition of each horse and if photos were fudged/ out right fraud……….shame on you for jumping to conclusions.

    But when the founder of the Henekey weight scale, that these horses were confiscated on will testify, at his expense on behalf of Ms Parkinson, then I think we should STOP and REEVALUATE what went down..

    1. Kelly says:

      Well I personally did see the conditions of the horses on the day that they were being rescued, and they were not up to weight and a lot of them had colic and had to be walked for hours, and unless the founder was personally there and saw the conditions of the horses, his testimony doesn’t mean anything! Some of the horses were so bad they couldn’t be saved, they had to be put down. This woman does not deserve them back!

      1. equine lover says:

        Well if you saw lots of colics the day of seizure than your overly zealous running the horses for several hours caused it!

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