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Arising from COVID, horse tradition keeps thriving for seniors

Steele County Times - Staff Photo - Create Article
Evelyn Hammer may need a walker to get around, but that didn’t stopped her from hugging one of Monte Mowry’s horses at Benedictine Living in Owatonna. Mowry brings his horses periodically to the senior living place to give seniors like this 102-year-old a chance to enjoy them. Submitted photo
Rick Bussler, Publisher
“The smiles that it brings to their faces are neat.”
-Monte Mowry, Mowry Lazy Meadows

When COVID-19 struck two years ago, Monte Mowry came up with an idea to utilize his passion of horses while comforting elderly seniors locked down at an assisted living facility.

Mowry took several of his horses and began parading them around the large picture windows at Benedictine Living in Owatonna.

“I’d walk from one window to another and tap on the window to visit with the residents through the window,” Mowry said.

Even as COVID has subsided in recent months, Mowry is continuing the tradition. Now residents are allowed to come out on the patios to pet the horses.

Mowry shares a story that melted his heart a few weeks ago at Benedictine. Four women pushed their wheelchairs out on the patio to see the horses. A short time later a woman with a walker found just enough space between the wheelchairs to push her way through and put her arm around the nose of one of the horses.

“She b-lined for that horse and spent about four minutes petting the horse,” Mowry said, adding he joked about selling the horse to her. 

Much to Mowry’s surprise and astonishment, the woman is 102 years old.

Mowry aims to help “bring back memories” for people who may have had experiences with horses earlier in their lives. “The horses bring back memories of days gone by,” he said, adding it’s a “very rewarding” venture for him personally.

He has found the horses are therapeutic for seniors. “It’s kind of calming. The horses are calm and quiet,” said Mowry. “The smiles that it brings to their faces are neat.”

And he finds horses to be beneficial for himself.

“It’s good therapy for myself,” Mowry said, adding he looks at his horses in the same way that many others treat their dogs and cats. 

Mowry will be having a picnic supper for about eight residents of Benedictine at his farm on Aug. 11. Besides showing off the horses, Mowry also hopes to put together a mini-car show for the seniors.

Mowry’s Lazy Meadows, which is operated by Mowry and his wife, Nancy, is located south of Owatonna. Currently, the farm features eight horses.

“They’re like Lays potato chips,” said Mowry of his team of horses. “You just can’t have one.”

Tank is a 28-year-old registered quarter horse that Mowry considers “the patriarch of this whole program.” Mowry ran into some problems with the horse getting too thin a few years ago. However, he found some special feed, which costs $27 per bag, to put on more weight. He eats a bag every week.

“He is built like a brick shit house,” Mowry said. “He’s no easier keeper.”

Eight years ago Mowry began offering rides around his pasture for families with special needs children. He also allows kids from Big Brothers Big Sisters to come out to ride.

He doesn’t charge for any of the services he provides. “It’s like giving back,” he said.

Mowry, who is 66 and semi-retired, said he plans to keep the horses until he dies. “It’s a lot of work for an old man,” he said with a chuckle.

More information about Mowry can be found at

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