14 Dec Gifting the community with that “get out of the city” feeling
A peaceful pasture, tucked in the heart of Huntington Beach, serves as a sanctuary for rescued horses as well as humans. These horses are a gift to all walking by and admiring them as living art and a soothing presence.
Alongside this patch of parkland, the fast-pace pulse of city life fades away. In its place, those who visit are surrounded by the calming serenity of a scenic Urban Forest, thriving with an ever-growing abundance of habitat for local wildlife and Pacific flyway visitors. An open hillside glides downward toward picturesque parkland, and the majestic Santa Ana mountain range appears in the distance. While walking the trails, one often encounters handsome steeds out for a pleasure ride. Just below the pasture resides the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center (HCPEC), home to nearly 400 horses spread over 25 sea-breezed acres.
The pasture is home to an eclectic herd of well-loved horses. Each has its own unique background, and every horse here was rescued by the non-profit Free Rein Foundation.
Some of the Free Rein horses were, until recently, feral mustangs now learning to trust people. Mustangs living wild and roaming the American West have a serious overpopulation problem. Overgrazing leads to starvation, and decimates rangelands. The Bureau of Land Management and Department of Forestry have the incredibly difficult and expensive task of maintaining a sustainable horse and burro population.
Free Rein Foundation of Huntington Beach became part of the solution and began rescuing, gentling and finding loving homes for mustangs in 2019. They’ve come here from as far as Northern California, Arizona, South Dakota and Texas. With their hard hooves and strong immune systems, mustangs are among the sturdiest of horses. Mustangs have the potential to become great companions, trail horses, therapy animals as well as competitors.
Sandra, a mustang rescued as a two-year-old in 2019
Abandoned No More
In its first decade, Free Rein has taken in more than two dozen horses that had been abused, abandoned, or on their way to slaughter. Several herd members are retired, senior horses. Their strenuous roles of competing or giving riding lessons have been replaced by perhaps their most important role, in Free Rein’s equine-assisted psychotherapy programs. Some horses have or may be adopted, and all serve a noble, healing purpose.
How Horses Heal Humans
Free Rein’s equine therapy programs help men, women and children solve real-life issues. Non-riding interactions in the pasture with the horses are facilitated by licensed mental health professionals. Clients suffering from anxiety, depression, anger management issues, drug addiction, grief, loss and trauma develop a greater understanding of themselves, their own behaviors, and how to move forward with their lives.
A horse’s ability to sense and perceive is much sharper than the abilities of what most humans possess. By nature, they are excellent at reading body language. Our therapy professionals never cease to be amazed by the “horse sense” these creatures exhibit while interacting inside their fences. It is not unusual for a horse to single out and gently come alongside an individual who has been suffering in silence, as if to offer solace.
A close encounter with Raza
Hold Your Horses and Pets!
Because horses are prey animals, they are always on the lookout for what might appear to them as a dangerous predator. When you visit and see them out on the surrounding trails, please be aware of how horses can be easily startled. To be safe, when a horse approaches it is best for dog owners to keep their pets on a leash. Cyclists and hikers are also advised to use caution and yield.
Free Rein Gift-Giving
Please join us in magnifying Free Rein’s one-of-a-kind gift to the community. By clicking the “Donate” button at the top of this page, you enable us to:
- Bring joy to all encountering these amazing animals and sanctuary.
- Support hurting and at-risk humankind through life-changing equine therapy.
- Rescue and care for more horses in need.
The non-profit, all-volunteer Free Rein Foundation is 100% donation-dependent. The vast majority of our funding has come through hosting fundraising events at the HCP Equestrian Center. Sadly, these events had to be canceled in 2020 due to Covid-19. More than ever, Free Rein Foundation needs your tax-deductible gifts and appreciates your generosity!