If Reins of Love cannot come up with enough money for a down payment and closing costs soon, the Mel-O-Dee Stables estate will be sold. 

Mel-O-Dee Stables, located at 13151 Elmcrest Ave. N. in Hugo, has operated as a full-service equine facility since 1971. The 40-acre farm has indoor/outdoor boarding options as well as indoor and outdoor riding arenas. 

Last December, Reins of Love founder Cynthia Marx moved her operation from Isanti to Mel-O-Dee Stables. Reins of Love provides refuge and rehabilitation for abused equine, as well as riding lessons and therapy services. Marx has been leasing the property with intent to expand the services offered at Mel-O-Dee Stables to create an equine environment for the community, including a garden, pond, trails, picnic tables and events. 

“It breaks my heart knowing that it might not happen. We are so close,” Marx said. “We want to make this a family farm. We want it to be a destination that people can come to. These are experiences that need to be more attainable for families.”

In March, Mel-O-Dee Stables owner Donna Meline passed away at the age of 90. Before she died, Marx had several conversations with Meline about the future of the property. 

“She would say things like, ‘I can’t imagine this being anything but a horse farm,’” Marx recalled, adding that she, too, could not envision the property without horses. 

Reins of Love’s lease ends Nov. 30. The property is currently listed for sale. Without the funds to purchase the property, Reins of Love will not be able to fulfill its dreams in support of the equine community and community at large. 

Time is also of the essence. Reins of Love not only has right of first refusal until November, it is eligible to receive significant benefits if it purchases the property by the end of September, Marx said. 

When Lino Lakes resident Sarah Marrinan heard Reins of Love was in need of funds, her first thought was to take out a loan herself to help. “I panicked when the idea of this opportunity going away crossed my mind. This has become a staple of our lives,” she said. 

Marrinan then decided to start a GoFundMe crowdfunding. She lives in the Clearwater Creek development and has many fond memories of waking by Mel-O-Dee Stables with her two daughters to pet the horses. 

Back in March, Marrinan and her daughters found out they could become volunteers for the organization; by April they were on the schedule. “I don’t know who was more pumped to scoop horse poop, me or my kids!” she said, laughing. The chores the volunteers perform are rewarding and teach important lessons, Marrinan noted. 

“Volunteering at the stables doesn’t involve much time with the horses. So much of it is fixing things, scooping poop, cleaning, washing water buckets and a few minutes of walking the horses out to pasture,” she said. “Where else is there something that instills such a work ethic and happiness? … so many people don’t know it is available, and the community could lose it. It doesn’t matter who buys it, if this isn’t their (Reins of Love) vision, I see it as a loss.” 

2002 White Bear Lake Area High School grad Tim Ngo also volunteers his time at Mel-O-Dee Stables and said Reins of Love is where he found his purpose in life. 

Ngo, an Iraq War Army veteran, was injured in combat and lost a piece of his skull after a grenade attack in 2004. 

He was in a severe depression last fall when a friend of his suggested he check out Reins of Love. 

He said, “I went to check it out and I ended up bonding with one of the horses” (Trigger). “Finding something like this that is therapeutic is amazing, because I didn’t want to be one of the 22 veterans that commits suicide (each) day. It gives me a reason to get up in the morning, to be able to come out and help with the barn, bond with the horses. It is amazing what a horse can do.” 

In addition to launching Mel-O-Dee Stables’ GoFundMe page, Marx also started a petition on Change.org in an effort to see if neighbors truly want Mel-O-Dee Stables to continue. “The response has been overwhelming,” she said. “They do want it to continue.” 

Anyone interested in investment opportunities can contact Reins of Love at 763-200-3160. 


Lead Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or quadnews@presspubs.com.

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