The Sanctuary and Our Volunteer Team

Spirit of Equus is a project of Institute of the Southwest, a 501(c)3 public charity and California corporation.


Star Light-Sponsored





















Seth the Candeyman- Sponsored


The residents of our Sanctuary are shown here.

Splash is our 27 year old Arabian/Paint herd boss who has been with the director for 16 years. Sixteen year old Kaptivate is second in command in the herd and serves as sentry and protects and handles the mares. He is a Trakehner/Paint gelding and has been with the Sanctuary for 11 years.

Our three mares include 10 year old dun Appaloosa Star Light who was born at our Sanctuary, 14 year old Sunshine who is a draft cross and 14 year old Sierra who is also a draft cross.  Sunshine and Sierra have been with us since they were 5 months old.

Star Light and Sierra are PMU and slaughter-bound survivors. Sunshine was also rescued from slaughter.  Sierra and Sunshine were born in Canada. Splash and Kaptivate were born in southern California.  Star Light is the daughter of OK Skip Tango, a 7 year veteran of the Canadian PMU line, who escaped slaughter and spent 5 1/2 years under our care before dying of cancer in 2012.

In 2014, we acquired a 10 year old retired racehorse. Seth the Candeyman ran 51 races on the tracks of California over a period of 6 years. When he arrived at our sanctuary he had multiple health and skeletal issues.

Hope joined us in October 2015 at the age of 5 months. She is a mustang orphan foal from Oregon.


Director Jan Meyer responding to Sunshine’s emotional needs.

President: Janet Meyer, Ph.D., EBW ~ Founder and president of Institute of the Southwest and Director of Spirit of Equus Sanctuary, Jan has dedicated her life to horses in crisis since 2002.  Coming in with a medical and educational background from the non-horse world, she has applied her knowledge, skills and intuitive gifts to the management and healing of horses. Jan lives on site with the sanctuary horses and facilitates the bodywork, energy healing, Horse of Light Holistic Healing program, classes and workshops.

Jan is our medical intuitive and energy practitioner.  She is a certified equine bodyworker. Jan has also received the attunements of a Reiki Master,  and her work with healing horses has led her to a deep connection with the Source and spirit guides, which enable her to function as a medical intuitive and inter-species communicator.


Vice President: Carol Thomas-Keefer, B.S. Carol is a groundwater resource manager with more than 20 years experience in the administration of non-profit organizations.  Her love of animals and concern for their welfare led to her support of horse rescue in 2008.  Since then, she and her husband Randy expanded their home in the high desert to create Spirit Wind Ranch, where they love and care for their five horses (four from rescues) and offer boarding with personalized care.  She embraces natural approaches to training, nutrition and healing, for herself as well as for her horses. Carol has a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Arts from Cal Poly, Pomona, and is a Southern California native.


Secretary/Treasurer: Wendy Schmerse. CPC, CMRS.  Wendy is an animal lover, who has served as a volunteer with dog rescue adoptions, website maintenance and as an animal care aide for the Santa Barbara Zoo. She has over twenty years’ experience in medical billing and coding holding certifications as a Professional Coder (CPC) and Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS). In addition, Wendy has vet tech experience at a 24-hour emergency animal hospital in Orange county.

Wendy also possesses a spiritual/telepathic “connection” to animals which makes her a special gift for her animals as well as the Sanctuary.

She lives in Ventura with her wheaten terrier named Bailey and her three cats Mr. Man, Junior and Cissy.



Candace and her Border Collie Nick

Candace Hawkes ~ Candace is our “backup” communicator. She lives in Athens, Georgia with her husband Alex, her horses Sterling and Nikolai, and a variety of dogs and cats, goats and lovebirds! She is very involved with dog rescue locally, and spends a lot of her energy communicating with companion animals.

She specializes in communication, problem solving and death and dying. A former social worker in children and family services, Candace has an amazing gift, and a sensitivity to all living beings as well as a life-time connection to the world beyond the veil.

Candace has training in Healing Touch for Animals, color therapy and shamanism and offers soul retrieval services.



Bill in Apple Valley

Bill Meyer is a retired aerospace engineer from Northrop-Grumman.  He has supported the organization from its inception with his expertise in design, electronics, equipment maintenance, and construction.  Bill was awarded our 2012 Above and Beyond Award for his work on behalf of our horses and his financial support toward the organization’s  infrastructure since 2002.

Bill is an invaluable member of our team!






  • Chris Comeau, DVM ~Twin Oaks Veterinary Service, Caliente, CA.
  • Dean Bader, DVM ~ Integrative Medicine, Shingle Springs Vet. Corp
  • Wayne Marteney, DVM~ Palmdale, CA
  • Jacob Johnson, DVM ~ Mojave River Equine Vet Services, Apple Valley, CA


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