Meet The Horses
Annie joined us in March 2018 and is the calmest little girl in the world. Miss Annie Oakley (Annie for short) is black as night with a beautiful white blaze and white foot, is in her early 20s, and has some arthritis in her front legs. Her left front knee tells the story of possible osteoarthritis, and her eyes tell the story of loneliness. As was the case for many of the horses who have walked through our gates, her former owner T – after a year and a half of lovingly caring for Annie in their place up north – simply couldn’t keep her any more. We got a call in the middle of February about a horse up north that needed a home. So many times, we have to say no because we were caring for 30 horses with no more room. We sent her picture through our network of rescues, but all of a sudden, we lost Sweet Boy. Once we moved Rusty to the barn to keep Sedona company, we realized that there was a nice little stall between Bud and Sunny that an older mare with arthritis needing some extra human attention would fit in perfectly. The rest, they say, is history.
Birth date, place, and name: 3/13/1993, NM, Mimi's Girl ~ Bella is a beautiful girl – hence her name (Bella means “beautiful girl” in Italian). As a matter of fact, it’s Bella’s picture that appears in the Tierra Madre logo. When she got here, she had horrible back problems. Dr. Bill Wood, one of the best veterinarian/equine chiropractors anywhere, said it looked like she’d fallen off a truck or something for her back to be that bad. He fixed her up, though, and she’s good as new. She also has a big, swollen right foreknee that indicates a bad injury sustained back in her racing days. Doesn’t seem to bother her at all, though. As a matter of fact, Bella is – without doubt – the fastest horse at Tierra Madre. She’s capable of blinding speed and has often raced Hudson around the arena – she has no trouble passing him on the outside. Our guess is that she was once a darned good sprinter back in her racing days. She used to live in a large pen with Hudson, but was kind of overshadowed by his galoot-ness. She now lives alone in her own large stall and her beauty and personality just shines through. Except at feeding time. Then she turns into a dervish, chasing the horses on either side of her away like she hasn’t eaten in a week. Even though it’s been maybe three hours. As soon as her food is delivered, it’s back to being the beautiful one. If a name ever properly fit a horse, it’s Bella. Ciao, Bella.
Birdie, f.k.a 'Verde,' came to us August 2020. She is in her thirties and is a blue roan Appaloosa/Mustang mix. Dr. K went to visit her old home on a call one hot afternoon and her temp was over 105. She was living in rather unfavorable conditions, and her old owner was ready to put her down as they felt they had no other options. Dr. K made a call to Jim and discussed the situation with him. Because she is an old girl, she needed a home to live out whatever time she has left as comfortable as possible. Thanks to Dr. K and friends of the ranch with a trailer, Birdie was brought to her forever home that afternoon. She was working on fighting off an infection, as evident by her temp and blood samples, and Dr. K and Jim created a strict medicine regimen to get her back to normal. She is on a curated diet to help her gain weight. She is the sweetest little girl and won't turn down a treat or some carrots. She was affectionately nicknamed "Birdie" by Jim as she needed some nurturing and would soon be ready to "fly" once again, but the name graciously stuck. She now goes out multiple times a week in the arena with her best friend, Lorraine.
Birth date, place, and name: 3/12/2009, KY, Hard Bourbon ~ As an ex-racer, Bourbon has more energy than nearly every other horse put together and his playtime out in the arena is something he looks forward to every day. Bourbon is a very sweet boy when he wants to be, but being a Thoroughbred used to the racetrack, he can be a little stall sour and has picked up a rather bad nipping habit. With time, love and patience, we know we can break him out of that habit and the world can see just how special he is.
Cadence is our resident potato. A young Quarter horse who’s as stocky as they come, she is lovingly referred to as Tater Tot. Cadence came to us several years ago with two other horses: Hollywood and Studley. The three of them had been in a rather nasty situation with their previous “mom” that involved some sort of miscommunication between her and the owner of their boarding facility. After the facility’s owner wanted to send the three horses to the slaughter auction, their mom teamed up with Tierra Madre to raise the necessary funds to bail them out. With no other place to go, the three of them were brought here and they’ve been home ever since. Our big girl has a gorgeous blue watch eye in addition to her brown one. She is very sweet but we have to be firm with her if we want her to walk nicely. She is very dominant and independent, but we love her all the more for it. She was recently diagnosed with chronic laminitis - not that you would know from the way she can still tear around the arena!
Chance is a challenge. A beautiful, young, palomino challenge. When he was rescued from the “prison” he was in, it seems he had been confined to a dark stall with only one small window for light. And he was only fed every three or four days. And he must have been severely abused by two-leggeds some time in his sweet short life, too. Because when he got here, Chance was a biting, kicking maniac. Almost unapproachable. We told him, “Dude, we know you’re scared of us two-leggeds. And we know your best defense is a good offense. So here’s what we’re gonna do: We’re gonna let you just be a horse for as long as it takes – a year, two years, five. Whatever. And we’re gonna show you nothing but love every day of that period. Until you finally realize you’re safe. And you’re loved. And you can trust again.” And he’s making progress. Real good progress. He’s a pretty happy guy most of the time, now. And he’s beginning to trust, if only just a little. You can see it in his eyes. But here’s a question: What on earth would possess a person to knowingly abuse another of Mother Earth’s children?
Chianti (pronounced key-ON-tee, like the wine) is a gorgeous Thoroughbred filly. Quietly confident as they come, this little girl fears almost nothing and is gentle as a lamb. Chianti came to us after a diagnosis that rendered her unridable. She suffers some neurological problems in her hind legs and has a bit of a lip droop. Her previous owner wanted her to have a safe, forever home, and knowing that the chances of a two-year-old unridable filly being sold to a good home were very low, Jim immediately offered to take her. She joined Danny in his home in the round pen for her first few weeks at Tierra Madre. All of us watched their first interactions anxiously, awaiting screaming or a small fight to break out. Instead, Danny and Chianti sniffed each other quietly, met each other’s eye, and asked in unison, “Where have you been all my life?” Chianti and Danny now live in a big pen in the field and are just as in love as they were when they first met. Some of Chianti’s old-soul personality is wearing off on a once very headshy Danny, and Danny likes to make her run enough to remind her she is young and beautiful. They balance each other out wonderfully and spend most of their days in their own little world.
Birth date, place, and name: 1/21/2011, CA, Borracho Dan ~ Danny is an eight-year-old Thoroughbred with a shy, gentle personality. He was destined to be part of the racing world, but he came to us instead after his previous owner wanted to get rid of him on the grounds that he had a bad knee. Thanks to a sweet lady on the track who knew he was in danger and begged his owner for a few days to find him a new place to live before the slaughter truck came around, Danny came home in March 2015. Danny was pretty uncertain about his new life for the first few weeks. He was rather head shy and it took some gentle coaxing to get his halter on. We turned him out with Iron Man and Slayer to see how they’d get along. The first few times we did this, Iron Man made it his personal mission to intimidate Danny and show him who was in charge. But to our disbelief, Slayer pushed himself in between the two boys before it got real nasty and kept the peace. Now? The three big Thoroughbreds get along just fine. After several months of living at Tierra Madre, Danny has come a long way. He is much more confident about being haltered and he looks forward to his time out with his friends every morning. His gentle soul has captivated us all. And that ‘bad’ knee that nearly cost him his life? It doesn’t bother him one bit.
Birth date, place, racing name: 2/13/2000, KY, Big Lips ~ Guess is one of the world’s great dames. A perfectly-proportioned 16-2 Thoroughbred with a beautiful face and a true alpha personality (her nickname is The Queen Bee), she’s beloved by everyone she meets. Jim refers to her as one of the great loves of his life. Jim met Guess several years ago when she was at a horse rescue in North Scottsdale. The owner, Holly, had asked him to work with some of the Thoroughbreds in hopes they would become good trail horses, leading to a better chance of finding a good home. Jim worked with Guess (who is one of the greatest trail horses you’ll ever find) and they developed a strong bond. However, one thing led to another and Jim had to move back to Los Angeles and Guess had to go to a new home. He cried when they parted. Fast forward three years. In the spring of 2006, Holly called one day and asked if Jim remembered Guess. “Remember her? She’s one of the great loves of my life!” Holly said her human could no longer keep her and would he be interested in giving her a home? “When can she be here?” Jim asked. “Two hours.” When the truck pulled up to the ranch two hours later, Jim went into the trailer to lead her out. Guess looked him in the eye and buried her head in his chest. “You’re home for good, baby girl.” And she is and, as Jim says, “She will be for as long as both of us are still breathing.”
Hollywood is an Arabian in his teens. He came to us with Cadence and Studley after a miscommunication between his previous owner and his boarding facility’s owner nearly ended with the three of them being sent to the slaughter auction. Once he got to Tierra Madre and learned he was home for good, his personality shone through, and it matches his name perfectly. Hollywood could be the star of every Arabian horse show and he knows it. He holds his head and tail up high for the world to see and walks with just a hint of a swagger. There’s no arrogance to him though – he’s as gentle as a kitten. He does tend to chase Cadence away from her food bin when the hay cart comes around, which goes to show that he knows exactly what he wants in life and doesn’t let anybody stand in his way. Several years ago he developed a hoof disease - acute laminits - that has claimed several Tierra Madre horses in the past and in fact is almost impossible to cure. Miraculously, Hollywood fought through it. Our guess? He wasn’t done showing off just yet.
Birth date, place, and name: 8/21/1998, Chile, Coloreado ~ He hails from Chile. He’s big – around 17 hands - & he’s black. And he’s beautiful. And he’s as sweet as the day is long. We helped to retire him off the racetrack. He’d just run his third mile-plus race in eighteen days & stopped in the middle of the stretch, saying, “I just can’t do this anymore.” And no wonder. In his seven-year career, he’d run in 124 races. See why we call him The Iron Man? Lou Gehrig had nothing on this guy. Having spent most of his life in a stall, it took him a couple of days to get used to living outdoors. The first night he was here, I went to visit him. He looked up into the sky & asked me, “Jimbo, what are those things?” I told him, “Those are stars, Iron Man. And they’re your new ceiling.” In October of 2018, Iron Man developed an ulcer in his left eye and after weeks of treatment, it ruptured. With no other options, Iron Man had emergency surgery to remove that eye. Now? Well, it's like he never lost it. He still is the same old puppy dog we all love.
After our gates were closed to new intakes, the universe intervened again. After receiving constant emails over the past six months about a 30-year-old mustang whose owners abandoned him, Alexis connected with the owner of the boarding facility where he resided. She had been taking care of him like her own horse, but couldn't sustainably continue to do so. Our long-time resident, Buddy, had just gone to the Great Herd and we had an empty stall, one that would fit an older guy in need of his final and forever home. Would we take him? On March 1, 2023, Jake came home to Tierra Madre, where he is shown love, attention, and care for the rest of his earthly days.
Jazz is a young, goofy paint horse that was given to us by a lady could no longer afford to take care of him. He has a nivicular stress fracture in one of his front hooves, and terrified he would be sent to slaughter if he wound up in the hands of an uncaring owner, his “mom” tearfully asked us if we would be his new forever home. One look at his sweet, curious face and we couldn’t say no. Jazz loves attention. His favorite things in life are food, walks, food, people and food. He lives in the barn now, but before he was in the corner office in the field, a home he shared for several years with his best friend Wild Bill. Because Jazz tends to be on the lower end of the hierarchy when it comes to the field herd, he clung to Bill because of his friendly, mellow attitude. When Wild Bill joined the Great Herd in April 2016, we expected Jazz to fall apart. Surprisingly, Jazz took his loss in stride. It seems Wild Bill taught him a thing or two, because even though he gets nippy with impatience or irritated when he's not getting the attention he wants, Jazz has a very relaxed and gentle soul. He tries so hard and for that, we’ll love Jazz forever. He has been nicknamed "Uncle Jazzbo" for his ability to get along with nearly every horse he's met, whether its a young colt or spirited mustang.
On a blazing hot June 2, 2018, Alexis and Jim attended a livestock auction in Buckeye where a group of wild horses had been rounded up after wandering off their protected land. With the addition to many other rescues and private buyers, all 23 horses were bought from the hands of kill buyers. Rescue - 23, Kill Buyer - 0. And it just so happens that an extremely skinny mare and her 2 month old colt needed a home. So, Journey and her baby boy Jumpin' Jack Flash (Jack) came home to Tierra Madre that afternoon. The Salt River Wild Horse Management Project lent us a trailer to bring them back, and within a few hours, they came home. Journey and the late Jack lived in the round pen as that is the last available space we had. Journey was incredibly skittish and flighty as she is a WILD horse. But, as we've seen over the years, there's nothing that loving and care won't change. Journey, unbeknownst to us, was pregnant when we rescued her. Unfortunately, a few days before she foaled, the baby died in utero from an umbilical cord complication. When she tried to deliver, it became stuck in a bad position and she was rushed to the hospital for life-saving surgery at 1 in the morning. She fully recovered and now lives happily next to the breezeway, begging for treats, and lets us humans love on her.
Kiss, whose given name is Kiss the Spot (?!?), is a 17-hand big, gangly Saddlebred, who spent most of his prior life as a show horse. As such, he lived primarily in box stalls in barns and was pretty much always spotless and groomed to within an inch of his life. When Kiss was introduced into the field, he couldn’t believe the scruffy group of hooligans who greeted him. “But I’m a show horse”, he said. “Back of the line, chump”, was the rejoinder. It took ol’ Kiss quite a while to realize that he, too, was now a scruffy hooligan. But he’s adapted quite well. He can be quite nippy, but not in a bad way. Horses have a habit of lightly nipping each other when they’re happy together – the term “love bites” comes close. The problem is that humans aren’t very partial to horses’ love bites since they have a tendency to hurt a little. Kiss is the king of love bites, which he’s bound to give us if we give in to his constant pleading for treats and attention. But given how goofy and sweet he is, we wear those bruises proudly.
Sweet Lorraine has been our neighbor for over 15 years. She lived just behind our property (behind Hollywood and Cadence) and belonged to a wonderful older couple, Lou and Harriet. As they were already up in age when Jim moved in, he always made it known to Lou and Harriet that Sweet Lorriane was welcome to join Tierra Madre whenever the time comes. They always politely thanked Jim and nothing really came from it. In late 2020, Lou, unfortunately, passed away and Harriet, with her own health challenges, moved a few miles away to live with family. She called Jim and expressed that it was time she took him up on his offer to allow Lorriane to join the Tierra Madre herd. After coordinating with the neighbors, Abel and Kelly hopped the fence seperating us and put a halter on Lorraine, walking her through a fence between the properties that hadn't been opened in 15 years. We bisected Hollywood's very big stall with a fence panel and put Lorraine between him and the tack shed. Because she's known Hollywood through the fence since he's been with us, they got along just fine and are finally able to interact from a different perspective. Welcome, Sweet Lorraine.
In late November 2021, after the sudden loss of long-time resident Nibzie, he made his presence known to Jim by brining a horse who needed help. Through a friend-of-a-friend on Facebook, Jim was made aware of a little roping mare that needed a home. For some reason or another, Mary Jane's owners couldn't keep her any longer and were looking for a new place to call her "forever home." After discussing Mary Jane with Dr. K and Alexis, it was determined that she was a prime sanctuary candidate and that she would spend the rest of her days at Tierra Madre. By the end of the week, this sweet, little, 25-year-old mare settled into her new home right next to Jim's front door. She and her neighbor, Mater, get along just swell and the rest, they say, is history. Welcome home, Mary Jane.
In early 2022, we received a very detailed surrender form outlining a problem that one woman, K, had: her horse, Mater, has a bad hip and all of the vet visits and exams and treatment in the world hadn’t been able to fix it. And K and her husband had gone to hell and back to try to help their boy, but at 21, it was obvious that retirement was his only option. And as much as they wanted to give Mater his retirement, they only had two stalls on their property. So, wanting the best possible home for Mater, K did her research and found us. She was willing to give us donations, Mater’s needed medication, and anything else we might need to care for him, if only he could live here. On top of that, she offered to help us with some of our fundraising efforts. She was so genuine and it was obvious from the start that she truly loved her boy and wanted the world for him. Boy, do we wish there were more people like her. Therefore, in September 2022, Mater came to Tierra Madre, where he will spend the rest of his days showered in love and attention.
Min is our resident terrorist. Sure, he’s only seven hands tall (28 inches at the withers). Yes, he only weighs 250 pounds. And yes, his name is short for Mini Me. But don’t let his small frame fool you; his favorite hobbies include rearing, bucking, nipping, biting, eating anything that won’t eat him first and wrecking havoc around the ranch when he’s allowed to wander from his stall. He thinks he’s as big as the other horses and is prepared to fight anyone that says otherwise. He does walk a little funny though. Min has chronic laminitis in his front feet and a bad patella tendon, so his movements (and attacks) are slowed so that they look almost half-hearted. Rest assured, they are not. That said, Min can be really sweet when he wants to be. Every now and then, after he’s enjoyed a morning of wandering around the ranch eating whatever he pleases, he’ll actually walk home without a fight. Only every now and then, though. One time it took four volunteers and a hose to get him to go back to his stall. He now lives between Kiss and Bella and gets all the 2-legged attention that he wants.
Birth date, place, and name: 3/15/2002, KY, Mysto's ~ M’stor broke his knee in a race at Turf Paradise in Phoenix in the fall of 2006. A slab fracture, where the bone fractures like an earthquake – part of it just separates from itself. Bad injury. He was only three years old. He was here the next day. It was either come here or get loaded onto a truck to the slaughterhouse in Texas. The universe brought him here. Lucky for all of us. The doctor said at the time that three things could happen: it would heal well enough for him to be ridden easily at a walk or slow trot some day; it would heal enough for him to have a comfortable life in the pasture; or it wouldn’t heal and he’d lose his life. In the end, it healed remarkably well and the doc said he was 90 percent flexibility in the knee. When he first got here, M’Stor didn’t know how to behave around humans. He’d try to bite all the time and didn’t want to be touched at all. He’d probably gone from being a young, young horse directly into the rather impersonal (for the horses) and very demanding world of horse racing. But, like his broken knee, that behavior is all in the past. He puts his ears back often, but only out of habit. He is now the most loving guy. Jim often stands with him, his arms around M’Stor’s neck, the two of them silently sharing secrets. The great thing about M’Stor is that whatever thoughts we might need to share, he’ll listen.
In a moment when we had one open stall, a horse that needed another chance to thrive moved into it. Oliver joined us in May 2018 not long after Annie. He's a sweet old guy that needed a new home because his owners weren't too keen on keeping him any longer. On a warm Sunday in May, our amazing vet Dr. K called Alexis about a client of hers that had a horse they didn't want anymore. He was supposedly 20 years old, blind in one eye, suddenly a little skittish around humans, and had an old injury in the right hind that made him walk just a smidge under normal, leading to his owners considering euthanasia since they didn't know what to do. Dr. K, being the angel she is, knew he had some good years left and offered them an alternative solution: filling our remaining stall. Alexis went with Dr. K on the following Tuesday afternoon for an evaluation and melted into a puddle when she met Oliver. In Dr. K's findings, he is not blind but needs a sanctuary to live out his days as it will be a better life for him. Finally, that Thursday morning, Oliver waltzed onto our property and surveyed his new place. Welcome home, son.
Slayer’s name has nothing to do with his personality. Seems his old human had a predilection for heavy-metal bands. At least she didn’t call him “Ratt”. Slayer’s a big Thoroughbred, well over 16 hands. He's our only one that has never raced, he was a jumper. When he got here, he had a pretty bad back and we had Dr. Wood, our vet/equine chiropractor, fix him up. In taking him through his post-adjustment exercises, Jim found that Slayer has a trot like a metronome. It’s just wonderful. So is he. Except when the food cart comes around. He thinks it’s his job to pull it toward him and eat anything contained therein. More often than not, this little trick results in the cart getting knocked over and the air becoming rather blue with admonitions. He thinks it’s fun, though, so what’s a few choice curse words between friends? He and Iron Man share common fences and they hang out together doing their level best to empty water tanks and so on. They both go out in the arena every day, and when they’re not standing still soaking in their surroundings, they’re tearing around happily and raising enough dust to make us thankful for our bandanas. One real nice thing about Slayer: he’s not into head-banging.
Spencer is our teddy bear of a horse mutt. His former owner, unable to find a home for him, intended to send him to Out of Africa to be used as lion meat. Upon hearing this, we jumped into action and brought him here almost before his previous owner could say another word. There was a news team that came for his arrival and articles written – the whole she-bang. Upon hearing the story on the news, the organization Out of Africa saw a picture of Spencer and said in disbelief that they would have never taken him to be used as lion meat anyway, as he looked far too healthy and full of life. And they were right: Spencer has slight arthritis in his legs but adores his life. With a gentle personality and sweet, sweet eyes, he’s loved by everyone on the ranch. He used to be pushed around a little by our late horses, Solo and Suze, but it wasn’t long before he established himself as the herd’s leader. On Christmas 2015, our neighbors gifted their kids with an airsoft gun... and they decided to test it out in their backyard. That, combined with Suze being Suze, was a recipe for disaster. She was big and beautiful, but *just* a little nuts. The loud noises scared her and she was kicking up a storm in the field. Spencer happened to be standing a little too close and... WHAM. Suze unintentionally knocked Spencer square in the left eye. We spent months taking care of him, making sure he would keep the eye and now he leads a normal, happy life. His skull is a little dented and he's a bit cock-eyed, but he can see just fine thankfully. This boy has been through so much and this just shows he can make it through anything life has to throw at him.
Studley came to us with Hollywood and Cadence. After the three of them were in the middle of a rather nasty battle between their owner and the owner of the boarding facility at which they lived, the three of them were bailed out and brought to Tierra Madre to live out the rest of their lives. Before he came here, Studley was found by his previous owner tied to a dumpster where he had been gelded with no tranquilizers and left to fend for himself. If his previous owner hadn’t rescued him, he’d probably still be there, picking scraps out of the trash, or worse. He has a pretty bad immune system, and we suspect he was weaned too early from his mother so that he didn’t get all the nutrients from her milk. Every single summer since he’s arrived, Studley has developed nasty summer sores on his shoulder, chin and feet. We do everything to prevent them – and eventually treat them – and they still manage to crop up. He takes it all in stride, though. In fact, Studley has one of the best attitudes in the world. He’s a bit of a punk and can be rather nippy and headstrong, but even with his nasty history, he is one happy guy.
Sunny was born at Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary on May 13, 2015, at 9:20 pm. She is our beautiful baby girl whose arrival we anxiously and excitedly awaited after we saved her then-pregnant momma Rain from slaughter. Sunny has known nothing but love in her short life, and it shows. She is as playful, joyful, and curious as the day is long and her spunk and spirit are unmatched. Everyone she meets is her friend, although no one gets by without giving her a treat or two. Because we are a sanctuary, every once in a long while we have to witness the end of our horses’ life journeys. It is because of Sunny we were able to witness our first beautiful beginning.
We got a call in January 2020 from Dr. K about a little mare that needed help. One of her clients suffered debilitating physical issues recently that unfortunately forced her to part with her beloved horse, Tally. Since she has hoof issues, navicular issues, and possible PPID/Cushings, she couldn't be ridden and her owner knew no one wanted to take her. The owner was stressed and grief-stricken at the thought of putting Tally to sleep since she had no other options. Upon the call from Dr. K, Jim said we would take her. At this point, we had made a policy to not take in any more horses due to budgeting, but sometimes the universe taps you on the shoulder and says there's something that needs to be done. And that something was taking in this sweet, mid-teens Quarter horse to live the rest of her life.
She may not be a horse, but Mystery is a big part of the Tierra Madre family. After being dumped over our fence one night with another cat and bunny, Mystery was elusive and selective of who she'd let see her... hence her name. The other cat moved on to a better stretch of desert and we were able to catch and rehome the bunny, but Mystery evaded all of our attempts. After a few weeks of being fed, she realized that she had it made on our property: food on demand, people to play with, critters to chase - what more could a cat want? She now can be seen in the mornings before it gets too hot and loves scratches and belly rubs from anyone who is nearby.