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How a harp is helping horses heal in Escondido

Mountain Meadow Equine Rescue & Rehab Center provides a soothing finish line for unwanted thoroughbreds.

ESCONDIDO, Calif. — When a horse has been neglected or abused, it needs a loving home. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Escondido where music is helping horses to heal. The goal of Mountain Meadow Equine Rescue & Rehab Center is to provide a safety net for severely neglected and/or abused horses. Along with a state-of-the-art treatment facility, the staff is using music therapy from a harp to create a peaceful setting.

Credit: Mountain Meadow Equine Rescue & Rehab Center

"It just brings me peace," said Darius Remmell.  Five months ago, the volunteer harpist started playing for the horses and couldn't help but notice how much it calmed them down. "They can spook at nothing, literally nothing, like the wind could pick up and sometimes they just try to test you," said Darius. Combine the beauty of a thoroughbred with the sounds of a harp and we may have just discovered horse heaven in Escondido.

Credit: Mountain Meadow Equine Rescue & Rehab Center

"It really does calm the horses down," said Madison Levy. She is the volunteer coordinator at Mountain Meadow Rescue and Rehab Center who told us horses are anxious by nature, especially those nursing old racetrack injuries.

"It kind of sets a tone out here. It's a little more quiet," said Madison about the beautiful sounds of a harp. The rescue is filled with people who need horses just as much as the horses need them. "I practiced law for forty years and I retired in 2014 and this is what I always wanted to do," said Doug Stoodt. He is the center's director who sees a difference in the animals every time he hears the harp. "They get curious and relaxed," said Doug.  

Credit: Mountain Meadow Equine Rescue & Rehab Center

"I often hear how rare the last name 'Zevely' is, but it may not be as rare as you think because volunteering in a nearby corral was my cousin Ann Zevely. "You're okay, you're okay, you're okay," said Ann while comforting a horse. Ann was an award-winning photojournalist before she retired and found a new way to pass her time. The horse Ann was caring for was named Star. 

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Every one of these magnificent creatures deserves a soothing finish line. "I know I am calmer when I hear the harp which helps me be able to relate to the horses better," said Ann. "Music helps tame the savage beast whether it's on two legs or four legs."

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Mountain Meadow Equine Rescue & Rehab Center, while a newcomer to the horse rescue community, comes from a long history of saving animals from neglect and abandonment. It started as the Animal Trust Foundation, which was founded May 16, 1973, by Patricia Woodbridge Nelson. Mountain Meadow Rescue & Rehab needs more volunteers, or if you'd like to help the program by making a donation click here.