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Underwood woman dies after falling off horse; had just started ministry ranch

Kirsten Laney1 / 3
Kirstin Laney with Valor and Victory, the first two horses she rescued to have at her youth ministry ranch, Oakdale Korral Rescue Ranch. Special to The Forum2 / 3
Kirstin Laney with sons Kade and Kolton and husband Ken. Special to The Forum.3 / 3

UNDERWOOD, Minn. -- An Underwood woman who suffered a fatal injury when she fell from her horse Wednesday afternoon, March 15, had just last year fulfilled her dream of starting a nonprofit ministry ranch.

Kirsten Laney, 48, and a friend were riding horses around 3 p.m. Wednesday in a wooded area near Laney’s home when Laney’s horse was spooked, according to a report released by the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office. Laney fell from the horse and suffered a fatal head injury, the sheriff’s office reported, but no other details of the incident were available.

Laney was a wife, mother of two sons, Kade and Kolton, and an equine enthusiast who launched Oakdale Korral Rescue Ranch, a youth ministry ranch near Underwood, on April 29, 2016.

To help with startup costs, a Go Fund me site was set up this time last year to raise $25,000 in order to secure the ranch property and to help pay for equipment, fencing and vet costs. A year later, 10 people have donated $1,000 to Laney’s ranch.

The Go Fund Me site says that the ranch has been on the horizon and in early preparation stages for more than 10 years, but it wasn’t until a health crisis in the summer of 2015 that Laney decided to make her dream a reality.

“It is the goal of those involved in the startup of this ministry to pair rescued animals with hurting, troubled, at-risk youth through this therapeutic ranch,” the site says, adding that Laney was also hoping to partner with veterans, and that anyone who wanted to visit or come for therapy sessions could do so free of charge.

Laney acquired two horses, Valor and Victory, in March 2016 that she rescued from “death’s door” and brought to her ranch’s green pastures to “experience heaven on earth for the first time,” the site said.

In May, Laney rescued a 2-year-old Shetland pony named Liberty to join Oakdale.

Laney had attended the 2016 Minnesota Council of NonProfits annual conference in Duluth and got involved with the Adopt-A-Highway program to further promote and build her business.

“I loved Kirsten and shared many of her dreams to bring healing and hope to others,” commented Carol Grina, of Fergus Falls, on a photo shared by Laney’s husband, Ken Laney, the day after she died.

Connie Barry, also of Fergus Falls and good friend of Laney’s, commented that she was, “So sorry!! This is so crazy!! Praying for all.. Kade and Kolton.. your mom was the best !! Hold all the memories in your heart.. Her kindness will live in your hearts forever.. She was amazing.”

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyat is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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