FOR THE ❤ OF ANIMALS · August 30th, 2020

What We Do for Family

by Cindy Hoffman


Laser came into my life at a time when my family needed him most. Within two years, my husband lost both of his parents to cancer. My daughter was young, just four years old, and our home was so grief-stricken we needed a way to make it happy for her and all of us. I believed that the healing power of a horse could help.

Laser lifted our spirits and brought smiles back to our family. He was goofy, always sticking his tongue out at people, or nodding when eating an extra yummy treat. But he also gave me purpose at a time I needed a distraction.

Laser in all his goofy glory.

Despite his good humor, Laser was skittish, regularly spooked by the wind or a shadow, and I was determined to help build his confidence. We road four days each week, working on making his environment more familiar and anticipating scary things. I made him a better horse, and he made me a better leader.

And then, last fall, a fire roared through the Simi Valley Hills, threatening the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, several nearby ranches, and the barn where we boarded Laser. The possibility that I could lose my horse frightened me. I dropped everything, jumped into my truck, and rushed to the barn.

As I got closer, the road was blocked. An officer told me only trailers were allowed through, but I pleaded, not knowing if my horse would survive. He reluctantly let me through.

Driving slowly, I could barely see the hood of my truck through the dense smoke. Flames hugged both sides of the road. I pulled over, panicked, and called a friend with a horse in the same barn. She guided me over the phone. I inched along as if blind, listening to her directions. Then I heard goats. I had made it.

When I got out of my truck, I saw chaos all around me. The wind howled as embers flew. The hills nearby were ablaze. Terrified animals ran in every direction, as people everywhere rushed to corral them. Mask on, I headed to the arena, where about 30 horses ran loose.

Below the Reagan Library, horses run loose in the arena as the fire roars nearby.

I grew concerned when I didn’t see Laser. I began asking others if they’d seen him just as his barn mate walked by. The handler directed me toward a trailer where other horses had been taken and assured me he was on board. I wanted to see him, but time was running out, and the fire burned even closer. I helped load the remaining horses into trailers until we could find no more. I got in my truck, wiped the ash from my face, and we began our caravan back to safety.

I spent the next two hours tracking down Laser’s whereabouts. When I finally found him, he was surprisingly relaxed. Our training and confidence-building appeared to have had an influence. I put down fresh hay and lavished him with hugs and kisses, relieved he was going to be okay.

Sadly, two horses did not survive that day. I was devastated for their owners. This close call made me realize how much Laser means to my family, and what all animals mean to those who love them.

So many people put their lives in danger—and some may look at us and wonder why. For me, the answer is simple. He isn’t just our horse; he is a part of our family. And heading into a brush fire to save the one you love is what anyone would do for their family.

At NVA, we often talk about our WHY—our purpose for doing what we do. My WHY is to protect all living things and keep them safe from harm through education. A former veterinary technician, I now work with hospital managers, vet techs, and doctors to implement tools and software that help make their work easier.

When our caregivers succeed, animals are safer, healthier, and happier. And anyone who loves an animal as much as I love Laser deserves to see them healthy and happy.

Cindy and Laser head out for a ride.


Cindy Hoffman


Support Center | Agoura Hills

Cindy joined NVA in 2008 and prior to that, worked as a registered veterinary technician, educator, and manager. She serves the NVA community by refining processes for implementation and training for key initiatives and helps practices incorporate them into their workflow. Feel free to contact her for best practices for the Online Booking Tool, PAW Plans, and Dentistry. She is owned by her black cat Heaven, brown/white super mutt dog BooBoo Turkey Chicken Puppy, brindle 50/50 mix German Shepherd/Staff Toby, and a bay American Saddlebred Laser. She lives in the Simi Valley Hills with her husband and daughter.

One Response

  1. Lauri says:

    I totally agree.
    Normally every year we get together at a ranch in Simi Valley where we get to ride on specially designed carriages for the disabled.
    The love you feel through those horses are unbelievable.

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