Sep 15, 2012 7:49 PM by Hope Hanselman, KSBY News

The bonds of friendship: one more reason why Heaven Can Wait

For those suffering from physical or emotional distress, there is a treatment that doesn't come in the form of a pill.

Psychologists say working with horses can create a calming effect. They've been used to treat autism, depression, even cancer.

The results can be dramatic, miraculous even, and are reaching people right here on the Central Coast, especially on Tuesdays. That's the day Jesus Espinoza, of Shandon, catches up with his best friend.

"This is Griffin," Jesus says, though he calls the beautiful black horse towering over his head, Griff Griff.
"He loves me so much and talks so much with me."

Jesus and the rest of Ms. Reid's Independent Skills Program transforms on Tuesdays, when Susan Schwarts opens up her San Miguel Ranch, Heaven Can Wait, to those suffering from emotional or physical disorders.

"When they first showed up here they were shy and a lot of them did have their heads hanging down," Susan said. "They weren't really communicative."

Susan gives these horses, and these kids, open space where progress can be made.

"They all talk now. They all laugh. They all talk with one another," Susan said. "They all have something to say to the horses; and it's fun to watch. It's wonderful to watch."

Veterinarians say, instinctually, a fear of predators make horses sensitive to changes in their herd members, yearning for a feeling of safety. Which is why Jesus's soft touch can put a thousand-pound horse, like Griffin, at ease.

"They had hard stuff, but they feel normal," Jesus comforts Griffin. "They're normal."

Now, Griffin is indeed normal, thanks to a touch that saved him.

Susan's 28 horses arrived on the Heaven Can Wait ranch on the verge of death.

"These were found in Simi Valley together in a backyard... starving," she said. "I cried when they came out of the trailer. I could not believe that anybody would allow that to happen."

She nursed them back to health, but now, has to turn others away.

"Financially there is no way, no way."

This ranch runs month to month. It's in short supply of donors, sponsors and volunteers.
Now, the faith of one woman may not be enough to keep them here.

"These are horses that people thought were useless, and I have found a job for all of them."

So, the fear of closing Susan's doors creeps up on Jesus and Griffin, who have a very important date to keep.

"It's remarkable how they've all changed," Susan said.
Heaven Can Wait is a non-profit equine rescue in San Miguel. They work with children and adults all over the county but are dangerously close to shutting down.

To find out how to help, click here.



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