ACAMPO, CA - The clock is ticking for the owner of Epona Farms Riding Academy who has less than 24 hours to find new homes for her horses.
UPDATE: Viewers ride to the rescue of Acampo horses
Catriona Watson has run Epona Farms Riding Academy for 10 years. In 2008, she moved her business from the San Francisco Bay area to a farm on Jahant Road in Acampo.
Rececntly she received bad news word from her landlord.
"We have to be out by 6 a.m. (Tuesday) morning. The ranch that we've been leasing has been sold and we have to move," Watson said. "We had a place lined up that was going to work really well for us but, unfortunately, the deal fell through at the last minute."
For the last month, Watson and some friends have been packing up and moving out.
"We're going to put our tack, supplies and equipment in storage at a friend's farm," Watson said.
She's also found homes for several animals in her petting zoo, including ducks, chickens, dogs, rabbits, a goose with a gimpy leg and a hungry pot-bellied pig named Ellis.
She's found temporary and permanent homes for 20 horses but still has 20 more that need a place to stay.
The horses were all obtained through rescue efforts.
"Every one of these horses has a story and many of them are over 20 years old," Watson said. "I got a lot of them because of the foreclosure crisis. People lost their farms to foreclosure and a lot of them couldn't keep (their horses) because it's expensive and they couldn't afford to board them."
The horses have served Watson faithfully as she trains people how to ride.
"This is Mr. Stebbins," Watson said as she scratched and petted a miniature horse. "He's the foundation of our Pee Wee Pony School. We start kids out on him when they're only 2 years old."
The school serves all ages, "from two to 92," according to Watson. She also teaches homeless, disabled and autistic children how to ride.
She wants her animals to go to good homes but everyone who's called to help doesn't just want to house them.
"I have an ad on Craigslist for free horses," Watson explained. "And I got a call from a kill buyer that said I'll take all of them. He was going to load them up and take them to a slaughterhouse in Mexico."
Watson said she hopes real horse lovers will come through and give her animals a place to stay until she finds a new property and can reopen her school.
Watson said anyone that's interest can contact her through her website or email her at email@example.com
"We hope that Mr. Stebbins will be up and riding kids again this weekend so he can give his Pee Wee pony rides to one of my little kids who's probably crying right now because she can't ride him," Watson said.
By Karen Massie, firstname.lastname@example.org