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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Equine therapy for healthcare workers and first responders in North County

Ivey Ranch Park extended its free equine therapy to frontline workers to show them gratitude and provide some TLC to our heroes.

OCEANSIDE, Calif. — First responders are getting some much-needed love from horses in Oceanside.

Ivey Ranch Park is sharing its gratitude by extending its equine therapy for free to health care workers, firefighters and police officers.

“We feel appreciated,” said Karren Hertz-Hethorn, Tri-City Medical Center employee.

Karren took her husband, their son Devin, and his two friends to Ivey Ranch Park. She said during COVID-19 she sometimes works six days a week in administration and homeschools her son. As a result she has has missed out on quality time with her family.

“It's heaven because we work a lot and I didn't get to spend time with him, my son,” said Hertz-Hethorn.

The Williams family finds extra comfort spending time with Quarter Horse Brighton.

Credit: KFMB

Sarah Williams is a 911 dispatcher for the Oceanside Police Department where she handles emergency calls and COVID-19 calls. The is also healing from a loss.

“Every day is different. There are so many changes. There are a lot of politics going on. We lost my husband, their dad, to a wrong way drunk driver a year and a half ago, so this is something that is definitely going to help them de-stress and enjoy,” said Williams.

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Ivey Ranch Park in Oceanside opened its gates for the second time this year to frontline workers offering free equine therapy. It’s become so popular more than 100 people have signed up each time.

Credit: KFMB

“It's just our way of saying thanks for everything you've done. It doesn't matter what department you're in. You felt the stress and had a lot going on and we appreciate what you have done,” said Tonya Danielly, Ivey Ranch Park, Executive Director. 

The ranch has 22 horses who are donated to help with equine therapy. Families are paired wit ha horse where they get to spend a half hour petting, rubbing and brushing the equines. Families then trot over to the barns and feed the horses carrots.

“If you've had a bad day, he knows that. If you're relaxed, he knows that. If you need some love and attention, he knows that," said Danielly.

As you watch the interaction between the families you can see the easiness from the horse providing some TLC to our front line workers.

“Whether you are young, or old, if you are a veteran or active duty, you're a high schooler, there is there is something this animal is going to teach you and give back to you,” said Danielly.

Ivey Ranch is hosting another equine therapy for first responders on Friday, August 7. Click here for details.

Credit: KFMB

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