Donations needed to help Laughing Pony Rescue in Rancho Santa Fe continue life-saving efforts for horses, other animals

Celia Sciacca has operated the nonprofit Laughing Pony Rescue since 2010.
(Luke Harold)

Laughing Pony Rescue in Rancho Santa Fe is looking to raise about $100,000 as the costs of taking care of its horses and other animals, in addition to any emergency care that comes up, continue to rise.

A nonprofit founded in 2010 by Celia Sciacca, Laughing Pony Rescue (LPR) is currently home to 13 horses, four donkeys, three goats and two roosters at its LPR ranch. Since its inception, it has saved more than 1,000 animals from abuse, slaughter and other forms of mistreatment.

The nonprofit has also worked to raise awareness of issues such as the slaughter of horses.

“It’s shocking to me that even people who have horses don’t know about horse slaughter,” Sciacca said. “I hope during my lifetime I see the slaughterhouses closed or regulated or something.”

Laura Spielman and Kelly Arrillaga have been volunteering at Laughing Pony for about two years.
(Luke Harold)

Horses are typically sent to slaughter by owners who no longer want to care for them. The last slaughterhouses for horses in the U.S. closed in 2007, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but an underground market has persisted and horses are sometimes shipped out of the country for slaughter. Organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States have also noted that horses being transported to slaughterhouses are often crammed in trucks and shipped for more than 24 hours at a time without food or water.

Laughing Pony Rescue is also trying to recruit more volunteers who can help care for the animals.

Kelly Arrillaga, who has volunteered at Laughing Pony Rescue for about two years, added that the funding will help “just to not worry on a month-to-month basis that the horses are fed and cared for.”

One of the ranch’s recent accomplishments involved raising money to place about 20 orphaned foals in a Washington state facility where they are safe from slaughterhouses or other inhumane treatment. Those foals were moved to Benton City, Washington, at Sugar Shack Horses, a “sister rescue” of Laughing Pony.

Laughing Pony Rescue also hosts local children for events such as horse rescue camps, which run for a week at a time, where they get to interact with the animals and learn how to care for them.

“Everybody’s here for their own personal reasons,” said Laura Spielman, who has also been volunteering at Laughing Pony Rescue for about two years. “We all believe in the mission that Laughing Pony does.”

The ranch is located at 7143 Via Del Charro in Rancho Santa Fe. For more information, visit