See the Dream
Alexis Ells is a woman of serenity, compassion, and vision. Hear her talk about the ups and downs experienced en route to realizing her life dream.See the Videos
See a collection of photos of horses that have benefited from the love and care at Alexis Ells's equine sanctuary.View Photo Gallery
Alexis Ells: Profile
From the time she was a small child, Alexis Ells remembers rescuing injured animals and bringing them home for care.
"Healing has always been innate to me," says Ells. "It's been a calling, a passion. I was one of those blessed people who always knew what she wanted to do."
By continuing to follow this innate passion, Ells is fulfilling her life's dream as the founder of the Equine Sanctuary, a non-profit organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and retrains injured performance horses that can no longer compete.
Located in Ojai, California, the sanctuary accommodates horses that usually require extensive veterinary care and are at high risk of being euthanized. Through their work, Ells and her team of volunteers have improved—and often saved—the lives of thousands of animals. Most horses are healed and adopted by families and go on to lead long, productive lives. Those that require ongoing care remain as goodwill ambassadors in the sanctuary's educational and therapeutic program for children and adults.
Although today she is greatly admired for her work, the world wasn't quite ready for Ells's vision two decades ago.
"When I first moved from New York to California and said I do structural integration, acupuncture, homeopathy, and nutrition for animals, people just looked at me and said, 'What planet did you drop in from? You will never be a success. No one is going to ever be interested in that,'" says Ells.
Today, her clients come from all over the world, and the Equine Sanctuary is thriving, with funding from donations, grants, events, memberships, and in-kind contributions.
Ells says reaching her dream meant facing life's inevitable uncertainties and taking action now, not later.
"So many people are waiting for that perfect moment," she says. But "that right moment never shows up. We have to create that moment. Our destiny isn't about fate, it's about a choice."
And as a woman who does her best to live in the present moment, Ells believes in working toward a goal. "It's important to set a course and to measure one's progress. My motivation comes from the satisfaction I have from enriching the lives of people and animals."
Ells's life has been fraught with great challenges, including a serious illness and a car accident in 1988 that ended her competitive riding career and left her with a serious brain injury. But she believes her success is built on her attitude that being challenged in life is inevitable; being defeated is optional.
"I think it's about perception and perspective," she says. "If you give yourself the freedom to know that anything is possible, and you keep having faith, belief, and perseverance despite the odds, you will eventually arrive at the top of the mountain."