Ranch & Coast Magazine

December 2023

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Even Spielman herself was rescued, in a way, by Laughing Pony. "I was going through some stuff in my own life a while back," she remembers, when someone recommended that she attend a retreat that was equine-based. "I was like, 'Equine? I liked horses as a kid, I'll go.' And it was magical. It was totally and completely transformational for me, and I left there thinking, 'How can I do this? How can I bring this kind of magic to other people?'" She discovered Sciacca and Laughing Pony and began volunteering before eventually becoming a PATH International Certified Equine Specialist for Mental Health and Learning. She and another of Laughing Pony's volunteers who's a therapist are certified to treat veterans with post-traumatic stress, and Spielman is also working to become certified in sports massage, equine massage, and biomechanics. In addition to their rescue and rehabilitation efforts with horses (and also donkeys, goats, and even roosters) and providing therapeutic services to humans, Laughing Pony Rescue also offers camps and educational programs to help foster greater awareness, love, and compassion for these animals. e programs also help to support the ranch financially, enabling Sciacca to continue to pursue her passion: saving more animals from cruel fates. "e more money we bring in, the more animals we can save," she says matter-of-factly. "I don't need my nails done, I don't need to have a big expensive car or anything like that. I just need to save animals." On the surface, it might seem like their work would be overwhelmingly sad. And though there are always more animals than they can possibly help, Spielman still sees the good in what they are able to accomplish. "It's so rewarding to see them thrive and to hear their stories of where they came from," she says of the horses. "It sounds like it's sad, but it's actually incredibly healing and heartwarming. What's amazing about them is their ability to heal, mentally, and their ability to trust. And then, their ability to heal humans." laughingponyrescue.org An Education for All Addressing the critical issues surrounding the housing insecure — shelter, clothing, food — is paramount, of course, but what can often be overlooked is another essential part of the puzzle: education. Navigating a complex situation that far exceeds any that a child can reasonably be expected to handle, these kids often withdraw and try to become invisible out of shame, fear, or loneliness, and many miss school or stop going altogether. Shockingly, 50 percent of the country's unhoused population is found in California, and that includes 64,000 kids. Ensuring those kids continue to receive an education is a daunting task, and not one addressed on a broad scale — or almost at all. San Diego, however, is a bright spot among these dark statistics. In Barrio Logan, the one-of-its-kind, comprehensive K-12 Monarch School is a powerful example of what can be done to give kids the education, support, and foundation they deserve. Focus philanthropy Monarch School << ranchandcoast.com 56 DECEMBER 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE LAUGHING PONY RESCUE: PHOTO BY MADELINE BARR PHOTO MONARCH SCHOOL: PHOTO COURTESY OF MONARCH SCHOOL

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