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.


Santiago is our new herd leader. A 28 year old Swedish warmblood, he came to us in July 2019. His best friend, Oliver, transitioned in March, and since then Santi has worked to find his place among the other 5 herd members. He is a very gentle horse and very kind and tolerant.


Kaptivate is our 19 year old mare wrangler and sentry. He has been with us since December 2005. He and Santi manage the herd. Kappi is a 17HH Trakehner/Paint gelding.


Our mares include Sierra Rose, Sierra Gold (Sunshine), Star Light and Hope. Sierra and Sunshine were rescued from Alberta Canada auction in 2003 at age 5 months. They are now 18 years old and have been with us since their rescue. They are both draft crosses.

Star Light was born at our Sanctuary in 2007 from a PMU mare we rescuedfrom a farm in Alberta. She is 14 years old. She is a dun Appie/QH cross.

Hope is a 6 year old mustang who was an orphan foal from the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon. She came to us at age 4 months.


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, Horse of Light Holistic Healing program, classes and workshops.

Jan is a certified equine bodyworker. Jan has also received the attunements of a Reiki Master.  She served as a medical intuitive and animal communicator for 8 years. As of January 2021 her connection to spirit-based healing came to a close, and she now offers Wellness Consultations based on the volumes of information, tools and hands-on experience she has acquired.

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 seven horses (four from rescues and three retired with medical conditions).  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.


Amanda and Kaptivate in Sheridan 2010.

Amanda Meyer. Amanda has worked with the organization since its inception in 2002. From raising a foal to riding and caring for a seasoned trail horse like Cisco, Amanda has been on the front lines. Since Amanda knows the idiosyncracies of each of the herd members, she is especially equipped to handle them. She is the one individual to whom we entrust our horses and ranch operation in the absence of the director.

Amanda with newborn Tango’s Tawni (now Star Light) in Somis, CA 2007.

Amanda has a B.A. in Sociology specializing in interviewing and counseling from CSUN, and studied energy healing at Lionheart Institute of Transpersonal Healing.

Amanda lives in Oak Park with her three cats: Nickie, Frankie and Atreus.



  • A full sponsorship for each of our horses is $265 a month. This covers hay/pellets, oats or rice bran, herbs and other supplements, dewormers, probiotics, minerals, fly masks.
  • A Feed Only sponsorship is $150 a month. This covers hay and timothy or alfalfa pellets only. The horses in this category are in need of additional funds each month.


  • Santiago

HORSES WITH FEED ONLY SPONSORSHIPS-Additional sponsors needed.

  • Hope  
  • Sunshine
  • Kaptivate
  • Sierra
  • Star Light- Private foundation grant


  • Dean Bader, DVM ~ Integrative Medicine, Shingle Springs Vet. Corp
  • Wayne Marteney, DVM~ Palmdale, CA

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