CENTREVILLE, Md. (WJZ)—Nearly a year after Animal Control officials executed the largest seizure of neglected horses in Maryland history, some of the 133 horses taken are now on their way back to their owner.

Derek Valcourt has more on the plea deal that’s making it all possible.

Prosecutors agreed to drop 123 of the animal neglect charges and give the owner back 63 of the healthier horses seized last year.

Sky Eye Chopper 13 was over Centreville’s Canterbury Farm back in April, where even from a distance some horses showed obvious signs of weight loss. Animal rescuers say others had parasites and lice.

“Every horse on that property is suffering from some level of lack of care,” said Stacy Segal, Humane Society of the United States.

Several horses were so bad the owner agreed to euthanize them. Queen Anne’s County animal services and rescuer groups confiscated the remaining 133 horses on the property.  The owner, Marsha Parkinson, was charged with 133 counts of animal neglect.

But Monday a judge agreed to give Parkinson probation before judgment on 10 charges and give her back nearly half of her horses.

Under the plea deal, once inspectors check out the farm Parkinson will immediately get back 25 of her horses. If all goes well, 90 days later she’ll get back another 20; 60 days later, another 18.

All along, Parkinson denied neglecting the animals, saying they were not suffering or in danger. In a statement she blasted Animal Control and the Humane Society.

“They [Animal Control and HSUS] had no basis to take my horses, and I should never have been charged,” Parkinson said. “HSUS saw an opportunity to grab headlines and raise significant money in order to further their own agenda at my expense.”

But animal services disagree.

“I don’t know how somebody can argue the point that there was not a need for intervention,” said Dave MacGlashan, Queen Anne’s County animal services director.

MacGlashan says without the plea deal, the case could have been tied up in court for a while and has no regrets about seizing the animals.

“We would not have intervened if it were not critical that we intervene, and things were very poor,” he said.

As part of the plea deal, Parkinson’s farm will be inspected regularly for the next year- some of them surprise inspections.  Officials say after a sale of some property, she now has more money to care for the horses.

Parkinson’s attorneys say after her probation she will apply to have her record wiped clean.

Comments (37)


  2. Richard says:

    So the tax payer took care of the horses because the owner could not and now we are giving them back to this insane person gets them back. What the hell?

  3. Rusty says:

    Why isn’t the name of the judge who made this despicable agreement in this article? Why isn’t he/she being held accountable for their decision? This judge should be removed from the bench, or at the very least, banned from EVER presiding over an animal abuse case again. I am disgusted. I can tell you one thing: Marsha Parkinson’s record may be wiped clean if she completes her probation, but I will make sure that she is never forgotten as a horse abuser. How can she say the horses should have never been taken from her? We saw the footage. We saw how emaciated and sick those horses were! What is wrong with that judge?!

    1. Betsy says:

      They found out that most of the evidence supplied in the case.. was doctored by AC and the “rescues”.

      Several vets that had recently been out, Dr Hennecke (creator of the system the rescues claimed to use) as well as others, were on hand ready to testify, as well as several who had managed to find that MOST of the photos the rescues used.. Were from different rescues.

      There were 6 that Marsha knew needed to be put down. She was hopeful that they would bounce back. They were older, and wouldn’t eat anymore. It’s hard to pull the plug on someone you love.

      But most of the “evidence” was falsified.

  4. colliemom says:

    “Several horses were so bad the owner agreed to euthanize them.” That says it all; if these animals were so ill they were terminal, HSUS certainly did have good reason to intervene. She neglected these animals, leaving them ill and starving. Perhaps she did not have money to care for them; she still had an ethical and moral responsibility to find a way that they could be fed and cared for. She is interested in having them back to try to make money off them. What happens after the year of monitoring is over – who is going to look out for the animals “in her care” then? This is just wrong. Exactly why did the prosecutors agree to drop the charges, and who made that decision?

    1. Edward says:

      Did you look at the horses on the video tape? Did you see the condition of these horses? Please learn what a neglected horse looks like before you bash this breeder.

    2. Susan says:

      The heart and soul of this seizure was the use of the Henneke body condition scoring system, which rates Quarter Horse mares on a scale of 1-9. The system was never written nor intended to be used for any other breed.

      The prosecution saw this bogus case go up in smoke when the author of the scoring system used, Dr. Henneke, fly out at his own expense to defend Marsha Parkinson. His review of the photos, videos and horses led him to write one of the most scathing professional opinions I’ve read in a long, long time.

      How do you explain 133 charges of criminal neglect being reduced to 10 misdemeanor counts of insufficient shelter? Bogus, trumped up evidence…

    3. Betsy says:

      They found out that most of the evidence supplied in the case.. was doctored by AC and the “rescues”.
      Several vets that had recently been out, Dr Hennecke (creator of the system the rescues claimed to use) as well as others, were on hand ready to testify, as well as several who had managed to find that MOST of the photos the rescues used.. Were from different rescues.
      There were 6 that Marsha knew needed to be put down. She was hopeful that they would bounce back. They were older, and wouldn’t eat anymore. It’s hard to pull the plug on someone you love.
      But most of the “evidence” was falsified.

  5. Richard says:

    someone got payed off, on this one, and the horses got the short end of the stick

    1. Edward says:

      You’re to stupid to even realize what a neglected horse even looks like! Did you even follow this story? She agreed to put down horses that were extremely old..like in their 30’s! Do you even know that is old for an horse, in the best of care some horses never get that old.

  6. sandy says:

    This is sad how can somebody give back the poor animals to that sick owner she dont need to own no animal ever again this system makes me sick and when she get her horses back she gonna go back and abused them again i mean come on now!!!

  7. Edward says:

    Don Henneke, PhD., Director of Equine Science at Tarleton State University in Texas, was prepared totestify as an expert for the defense. Dr. Henneke developed the Body Conditioning Scale for horses thatis used internationally. It is frequently referred to as the “Henneke Scale.” Dr. Henneke reviewed theevidence and, in his professional opinion, HSUS and its rescue partners (the groups responsible for theseizure) “showed a complete lack of understanding” in the application of the equine body conditionscale as applied to Ms. Parkinson’s horses and “exhibited extreme bias.”

    1. Susan says:

      There are those who have argued that the prosecution should have brought in their own expert to refute Dr. Henneke…yeah, let’s argue with the man who created the body condition score that was used. REAL intelligent folks. It’s about time the author spoke out about the misuse and abuse of his paper, which discussed the needs of QH mares for optimal reproductive health.

      1. Angfreda says:

        Dr Henneke only saw the evidence given to him by the defense. I believe he was misled. Had there been an opportunity to have him on the stand and cross examine, his bias might have been obvious.

  8. Susan says:

    Here’s a little truth for those who find facts so hard to accept. These are pictures taken by HSUS/DEFHR of horses they seized from Marsha Parkinson.


    1. Angfreda says:

      I see 6 horses. Where are the other 127?
      Are these the only photos they gave Henneke? He should be furious with the Defense lawyers if they are and he would have been in for a surprise had he arrived at court and seen the rest of the horses’ photos.
      Anyone who saw the pics of the horses when they arrived at the rescues who cared for them, or who were on site to see them, saw many of them who were too far under weight, overdue for dental care [that can make it hard to keep weight on] and overdue for farrier care [not ideal for young stock that is so ‘valuable’]

      1. Susan says:

        There were 200-300 photos and video provided to Dr. Henneke by both sides. It’s called discovery and the evidence must be made available.

        Stacy Segall, HSUS, stated that there wasn’t even one horse that was healthy and cared for…wow…

        Dr. Henneke is no fool, and to think he would look at a dozen pictures and write the report he did is naive on your part. Read his report and see for yourself.

      2. Betsy says:

        They found out that most of the evidence supplied in the case.. was doctored by AC and the “rescues” before it went public as well. Most of the pictures of the horses were not even from this case!

  9. Feebe says:

    The need for the medical intervention was needed. Has the owner agreed to seperate the foals and not bread? Has the owner help in place or is the owner about doing things the hard way again?

    1. Susan says:

      Read Dr. Henneke’s report. He reviewed all the evidence, including the blood work which was normal and did not show any pregnant mares.

      The judge returned 63 horses to Marsha with very few restrictions; one being that she could not breed during the next 6 months.

      She never had mixed groups of mares and stallions. The rescues mixed horses when they co-mingled stallions and mares in pens and in trailers.

      As to medical intervention…I was unable to find that reflected in the court records or Dr. Henneke’s report. The original euthanasia of the older mares took place on April 15, 2011. What horses needed medical attention?

  10. Vet Barnes says:

    This woman was abused by HSUS and animal control. Its clear otherwise the court would not have been so willing to give back her horses. Also those who took the horses are biased because they are on the line for having taken them in the first place. Old horses always are skinny just like some very old people. Living to age 30 means those horses received very good care. Wild horses don’t wear shoes so were is it written that horse must have shoes? Also HSUS and animal control swoop down like Nazis and force people to admit guilt by threatening them with jail and the killing of all of their animals. Of course you’ll say anything to stop that. HSUS intends to end all domestic animals and the use of animals for any purpose. These fake raids is how they raise their money to end all use of animals. None of these people commenting actually know anything about horses. That is the problem if they went contrary to the recognize authority on horse conditions.

    1. Marie says:

      I absolutely agree with you, Vet BarnesI had a 30 year od mare when even when she got 16 quarts of Blue Seal Senior feed a day, and unlimited hay and apples form fro orchars all she could eat, she did not put on a pound, but steadily lost more weight. But she was happy and and had her special friend hang out free where ever they wanted to go on the farm, until the day she did not get up anymore. I waited for two days, to see if she would get up and then only then I decided to put her down.
      She was eating, the whole two days, with her bowels functioning fine. She ate 8 apples in the last hour. She died with hay hanging from her mouth! Today I have 27 horses, one of which a 31 old mare cannot keep her weight up. Yet, she get’s twice the feed others get! This mare has a sister who is 33, who does not have a problem with weight! Both of them are cared for equally! As long as the horse is happy and eating she or he can stay alive on my farm! To get a horse to be 30 years old, does not happen with neglect! If the busy body societly ladies who want to help would donate their time to hang out on the farms to groom and/or in general be of supporting cast rather the judge over woked farmers! Or just make moneytary donations to farmers that they think need som assistance! Their time would be much better spent!

  11. Stephanie Dobbins Rameika says:

    Well I live here on the shore and I know people who have worked for Marsha and I know where her farm is. She once had a beautiful farm and a manageable number of horses. 133 horses is ridiculous! Her horses were not well cared for, not routinely vetted and she admitted things had gotten out of control and she had gotten into a position where she could not adequately care for the horses. If you go back and read interviews with her, SHE SAID THAT! How does someone who was once such a great horseman do what she did? Perhaps she had personal issues, but she should have known enough to ask for help. I am really incensed by the fact that these animals are being returned to her. And whoever said the Henneke system is only for Quarter Horses is a moron. It is a standardized system used for horses of all breeds! Perhaps you should do a little more research before you start spewing erroneous information. http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/PDFpubs/1010.pdf

    1. Susan says:

      The University of Maine misappropriated Dr. Henneke’s work. Dr. Henneke, the author of the body scoring system, has never stated that it is appropriate to apply this bcs to all horses. His work was specif to mares of breeding age and his study used Quarter Horses.

      Would you accept using the crash test data from a 1978 Honda Civic should be the standard for every car ever manufactured? Didn’t think so.

      Believing doesn’t make it so, which is why we have laws.

      1. Stephanie Dobbins Rameika says:

        He can say what he wants now. This body scale has been used nationwide since its inception. Now suddenly he wants to change its use? Regardless….I can look at the photos of her horses and see their ribs and hip bones. You are going to tell me that is acceptable or normal? I think NOT! NO HORSE of ANY BREED at ANY TIME should look the way those horses looked…PERIOD!

    2. Betsy says:

      The problem is, even though you can visibly see ribs in those photos.. they proved that several of the photos the rescue groups used were NOT marsha’s horses. And that several were doctored as well.

      If the horses were in bad shape, they should have followed the law, and then turned over un-tampered with evidence.

      The rescues are the ones to blame for a lot of this.

  12. Tricia L says:

    What an idiot judge! And the owner is just a disgrace!!! Horses had to be put down because they were so sick and they have evidence they were unhealthy!!! So for a year funds and workers and/or volunteers had to work to get these horses back in a healthy state and now they are just handed back over to the owner! Is the owner going to pay all the money that was put out? No! Of course not!! Unfortunately these horses and any others that she owns will end up back in the same position soon enough! And this is one of many reasons I have no faith in the justice system!

    1. Betsy says:

      6 horses had to be euthanized, and Martha admitted that. She held on to them too long. She was hoping after the winter, they would “bounce back”. They were older, and she was having problems getting them to eat anything. Not that she was providing, but anything. She knew it was time, but it’s very hard to pull the plug (so to speak) in any case.

  13. James says:

    Marsha Parkinson needed to thin her herd and decided to do so by letting the least valuable starve first. There were many avenues of relief she could have taken but she choose to do the cruelest thing possible. As for Dr Henneke, his system of evaluating horses makes it paramount that physical contact is used to determine how much fat and muscle a horse has lost. How could he have come to the conclusions he did by merely looking at photos of 6 out of 133 horses? This case was poorly adjudicated. Unfortunately for the helpless victims of animal abuse, the effects may be far-reaching.

  14. Susan says:

    “Prosecutors agreed to drop 123 of the animal neglect charges and give the owner back 63 of the healthier horses seized last year”

    The reporter did not properly quote the court record. Masha has her CHOICE of horses. The judge put zero restrictions on her choice of animals and she chooses first…

    If we’re going to argue, then let’s do it over facts, not sensationalism.

    1. Stephanie Dobbins Rameika says:

      The FACTS are she abused and neglected over ONE HUNDRED animals. The FACTS are she initially admitted things had gotten out of control and she was in over her head. THE FACTS ARE SHE HAS NO BUSINESS BEING ALLOWED TO HAVE ANY HORSES EVER AGAIN AND SHOULD PAY RESTITUTION TO THE GROUPS WHO PAID TO MAKE *HER* HORSES HEALTHY AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Betsy says:

        A prosecutor does not pursue a case such as this, with 133 charges, with the enormous cost to the county for providing for the care of the horses, and then the day before trial dismiss 123 counts UNLESS he has good reason to believe that he will lose. The very small number – 10 counts – appears to suggest that he acknowledged he may lose the entire case if he went forward. It’s that simple. Prosecutors use state money and state resources to prosecute crimes. The personally lose nothing but the “case.”. There is no doubt that the prosecution ALWAYS has an advantage over the defense. This was clearly a salvage attempt on behalf of the prosecutor to not allow the defense a complete victory, so he struck a deal where he saved some face and refuted the appearance of wasting all those tax payer dollars on a case he could not win. In the end, I think Lance Richardson was duped by DEFHR and I suspect he will think twice about trusting any information coming from them.

        Sometimes lawyers don’t need a judge to point out the evidentiary problems their case has – they find them on their own and adjust accordingly. Here, Lance Richardson was presented with a wealth of evidentiary problems on the eve of trial – including evidence that was altered regarding the condition of the horses. He did what any good lawyer would do – he salvaged what he could. That he dropped 123 counts should tell you something.

  15. heather says:

    http://www.freshmeadows.net/Rescue2.htm Pictures of horses taken in. These are doctored

  16. heather says:

    Not Doctored

  17. heather says:

    Here are the days end pictures, also not doctored http://www.defhr.org/meet_our_horses/horsesinrehab.html

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