Meet The Horses
All the 4-legged members of our herd! Photos are credited to:
Arizona Horse Photography
Liz Lee Studios
N. Loftis Photography
Ruby Rideout Photography
ABUELA is our newest herd member. Don't be fooled; those ears don't belong to a horse... she is our first and only donkey!
In September of 2017, we saw a post about 4 abandoned donkeys on a lot in FAR east Arizona. They all were fat, due to poor diet, and had overgrown hooves but our sweet girl had the worst feet you could imagine. She couldn't walk right but was still a gentle, old soul nonetheless. The donkeys survived off of mequite pods (high in sugar) and one filthy well of "water."
We partnered with Triple R Horse Rescue to get them our of that lot. And with Abuela being much older than the rest, she wasn't as "appealing " to people while trying to be placed... so we gladly brought her home. She's a perfect fit and lives in the "in" part of our other old girl, Chiquita's, stall. They doze off together and whisper about all us two-leggeds and the crazy youngsters that surround them.
Welcome home, Abuela.
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.
Fun fact: Bella is our second oldest racehorse!
Birth date, place, and name: 3/12/2009, KY, Hard Bourbon
Bourbon is one of our youngest horses. As an ex-racer, he 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.
His best friend in the world is Nibzie. Even though the two of them go out with five other horses, they are completely attached at the hip. When Bourbon is brought to the arena before Nibzie, he looks anxiously around until we bring Nibzie to him, and visa versa. When the two boys are together, they play and roll and run without stopping like two kids at recess. Only thing is, we have to separate the two boys at feeding time, otherwise Bourbon eats Nibzie’s food!
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.
Fun fact: Bourbon is part of the Bourbon Lane Stables family. He's got some famous relatives!
BUDDY came to Tierra Madre through his own doing. Several years ago, another nonprofit organization contacted us to ask if we could take in one of their horses that seemed to have something wrong with his leg. Because we had the extra room, and because the organization couldn’t keep an injured horse, Jim told them to send him over.
When he got to the ranch, Buddy wasn’t limping at all. In fact, he walked just fine. Odd. We thought perhaps whatever was making him limp flared up only every now and then, and we thought nothing else of it.
Buddy didn’t limp again until the day of one of our annual open ranches, when we had him out in the arena ferrying small children around on his back. Then he moved as though he’d been attacked by a mountain lion. He was limping so dramatically that we instantly removed his saddle and took him back to his stall for an inspection. And suddenly, as he figured out he was going home, Buddy was fine. He walked perfectly.
Buddy is since retired from being ridden (excluding young kiddos during an open ranch), but he’ll certainly stand and let you love on him for as long as you want. In fact, he’s earned the nickname of Buddha due to his calm and soothing presence.
Fun fact: Buddy and Rusty share the exact same birthday.
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!
Fun fact: You may think her boyfriend is Hollywood - since they live together - but she and Chance have been in love forever.
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?
Fun fact: Chance is one of our few rideable horses. He and Jim were quite the pair back in the day.
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.
Fun fact: Chianti is one of our two thoroughbreds that have never raced or been registered.
CHIQUITA is the sweetest little thing on this side of the Rockies, and we do mean little. Standing at barely 13 hands, Chiquita is a mustang originally from the Bureau of Land Management. Her “mom” raised her from the time she was two years old, and 20+ happy years later, it was time for a life of luxurious retirement.
Chiquita is so tame that all anyone has to do to take her to the arena for playtime is put a rope around her neck. Chiquita happily follows along. But don’t let her sweet demeanor fool you: this mustang has a mind of her own and won’t be bullied by any of the other horses!
This little mustang is a people-pleaser and a friend to everyone she meets. She loves being taken for walks and strolls along without a care in the world. Our sweet little girl has chronic laminitis and wears special elevated "shoes" to keep her comfortable, although you'd never be able to tell because of her constantly pleasant demeanor.
Fun fact: Chiquita is sort of a cougar, her lover is Jazz!
Birth date, place, and name: 1/21/2011, CA, Borracho Dan
DANNY is a six-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.
Fun fact: Danny can "cow kick," which mean he kicks sideways. Alexis has lost a phone to his antics.
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.
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.”
Fun fact: Jim has known Guess longer than any other horse on the ranch.
Birth date, place, and name: 2/2/1998, CA, Heightenedinterest
HEIGHTEN is a big, red ex-racehorse. He’s in his late teens, from what we understand, and was on the track until he was seven or eight. He put in a lot of races, and all that left him with a terrible back. Some friends of Jim’s acquired Heighten a long time ago and asked him to train Heighten to be a good trail horse. The problem was, nearly every time Jim got on him, Heighten bucked his fool head off. He was in pain and Jim relayed that to his humans to no avail.
A couple of years later, Heighten’s humans came to Jim and told him that because their horse was unridable, they’d gotten another horse or two and had to get rid of Heighten. Would we take him here? Sure, but Dr. Wood – one of the best equine chiropractors around – needed to be brought in. Dr. Wood said Heighten must’ve fallen over the inside rail on the track or something because his back was in such horrible shape. But it was surely fixable. After an hour or so of his magic, Dr. Wood declared Heighten good to go. After that? Heighten loved to be ridden and has yet to see a trail he doesn’t like.
However, a few years ago Heighten broke a small bone in his hind left knee. He fought for his life for 14 months. After losing hundreds of pounds and dealing with infections, pain and – undoubtedly – fear, his leg has healed, although he now has arthritic bone spurs that occasionally cause inflammation in his joints.
Heighten doesn’t let it stop him from running around, though. Honestly? Nothing stops him from loving and living life to the fullest.
Fun Fact: Heighten can do the "Lady and the Tramp Trick" with a carrot."
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.
Fun fact: The moment Hollywood sees a camera, he'll stop and pose for you.
Birth date, place, and name: 4/26/2000, AZ, Senor Chuy
HUDSON is a big galoot. Big and strong-boned and beautiful, he’s a Thoroughbred with some of the best breeding ever – Bold Ruler, Mr. Prospector, Raise A Native, Foolish Pleasure – the list goes on and on. With that breeding, he should have been a superstar in the racing world. He had other plans.
Hudson kind of lives in his own happy world and doesn’t pay much attention to the things he’s supposed to be doing. So it’s easy to imagine him in the starting gate with the bells going off and the gates flying open and a stampede of horses bolting down the track and him just standing there thinking, “Why, that’s a pretty bird over there. Wonder where all those guys are going in such a hurry.” Must have thrilled his connections.
He’s a real mild-mannered galoot, but his stubbornness knows no end and he flatly refuses to be ridden. He’ll walk for you, but he’ll go at his own pace. In his mind, the destination will still be there when he gets there. And he’s right.
We could all learn a lot about dealing with life from Hudson.
Fun fact: Hudson is one of our only horses with shoes. He has front ones since he has a club foot.
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.”
Fun fact: Iron Man is our only foreign horse.
JANI is a very sweet Quarter Horse mare in her late teens. Her folks – very nice people who are good friends of the Sanctuary – couldn’t keep her any longer &, given that she has ringbone in one of her hooves, wanted to make certain she had a good, loving home & wouldn’t be made to work hard. Jani has been a hard worker all her life – she’s jumped, run barrels, given lessons & been a trail horse – so she certainly has nothing left to prove to us two-leggeds.
She was kind of shy when she got here (“What’s going on & why am I here?”), but she’s settled in very nicely & loves to romp around the arena every couple of days. She's not too terribly fond of any of the other horses on the ranch, though. In fact, she goes out of her way to pin her ears at anyone walking by her stall.
Except for her next door neighbor, Buddy. Those two are inseparable. When they're turned out, we can usually find them cozied up nose to tail or grooming each other's withers.
Fun fact: Jani will 'dance' if you know just where to scratch her neck! She's our bright little copper penny, and we'll love her reserved, sassy attitude forever.
Fun fact: Jani's coloring is technically pinto since she has at least one sock that extends above her knee.
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.
Fun fact: Jazz has a tri-toned tail - there's three different colors in it!
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.
Fun fact: Kiss has the best manors when it comes to his feet. Since he used a show, he picks them right up for us!
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.
Fun fact: Min’s original name is Vandy’s Just In The Nick of Time. Just don’t call him that to his face.
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.
Fun fact: M'Stor can become a "horse hat" - you put your head underneath the hollow of his jaw and he'll just stand there and take a nap!
NIBZIE is a flea-bitten Arabian in his mid/late teens whose former owners couldn’t keep him any longer and couldn’t find another home for him. He has a little face, a short tail, and a big, big heart.
Some time before he got here, he coliced badly and had to have surgery to save his life. After he came to the ranch, he coliced again, and it was quickly determined that he could not eat Bermuda hay. From then on, he has been on a special diet of alfalfa and Timothy hay to prevent colicing, and our sweet boy has been happy and healthy ever since.
Nibzie is best friends with Bourbon and hates to be away from him in any way, shape or form – even if it means waiting 60 seconds for one of us to come back for him after putting Bourbon out in the arena for their playtime! One time he got loose while we were putting him out in the arena, and he could have galloped off to anywhere on the ranch but instead, he ran right back to Bourbon in their stall.
He also has a little chunk of skull missing as evidenced by the dent in his face – he and Bourbon ran at each other a little too hard one day and had a head-on collision. That hasn’t slowed Nibzie down at all, though. Just as he runs to the arena while we’re leading him and spends his playtime galloping around happily, he takes on life with an energetic and blissfully happy attitude.
Fun fact: Since his head is so flat, if you turn your back to him, Nibzie gives the best back rubs!
RAIN came to us one late afternoon when Alexis saw a post on her Facebook about a pregnant mare who was in desperate need of a home. The woman said that if she could not find a home within a few days, her baby would be aborted, and she would be sent to slaughter.
Once Jim saw the post, he immediately called the woman and made arrangements for Rain to come to us. That very next day, she arrived around 2:00 in the afternoon. We didn't say much to the man who's custody she was in. I'm sure you understand. We loaded her off the trailer, paid the man, and walked her through our gates, straight to the round pen.
Just by looking at her, we could tell that she was an unhappy little girl. Her ears hung to the side, and her eyes looked tired. But she was trusting of us nonetheless. We removed her halter and let her wander her new pen for a bit. When we tried to put the halter back on her, she wasn't so sure about it. We don't know if she was abused, or neglected, or what have you, but she did have a nasty scar across her nose and flinched if someone rose their hand too quickly.
Now? Rain owns our ranch. She has progressed immensely since her arrival at Tierra Madre! She is so unconditionally loved and has brought such light and joy to all of us here, and to all of our friends across the country. Her beautiful filly Sunny was born on May 15, 2015 at 9:20 pm, and she is the most loving, protective momma.
Birth date, place, and name: 4/1/2007, AZ, Hidden River
RIVER is a sweet, sassy Thoroughbred ex-racer. She has the energy of a whirlwind which undoubtedly helped her on the track until she broke her front right Sesamoid bone several years ago. Faced with the prospect of having a racehorse that required six weeks of stall rest, her former owner sent her our way. River’s hairline fracture has healed nicely, and now one of her favorite things in the world to do is run around the arena at a dead gallop. She has one of the most beautiful, graceful gallops in the world – she bucks, kicks and rears as she runs and yet she makes it look so graceful.
We let her out into the field recently after she lived in her own, attached pen for several years. She and Suze have become good girlfriends, and they recently have started teaming up to bully Solo and the rest of the horses in the field. It’s kind of funny to watch.
Because he’s originally from Arkansas, this boy’s sometimes referred to as “RustyBob”. He’s a Quarter Horse & a pretty one at that. He can’t really be ridden anymore because he has some issues in his rear wheels. Not bad ones – he can still fly around the arena like a young colt – but enough to preclude two-legged baggage.
There’s really no other way to say this....Rusty has a snout that looks like a cow. Yep. A Guernsey, I’d say. With sweet, sweet eyes to match. Heck, everything about Rusty is sweet. He’s a friend to all, two- & four-legged alike. He’s never meet another spirit he doesn’t like.
Or a flake of alfalfa.
When feeding time rolls around, ol’ Rusty’s not backward about being forward in the vocal department: “Hey! Me! Don’t forget about me! I’m hungry, too!” Don’t worry, my sweet, bovine-faced boy. We’ll never forget about you.
SEDONA is a big Warmblood and lives next door to Sweet Boy. They’re often referred to as “The Highwaymen” because they have no compunction about assailing anyone who passes in their never-ending quest to empty the treat can that stands right next to them.
Sedona had a chronic problem with one of his tendons in the past and couldn’t be ridden for a while. Nowadays, he is saddled up every now and then and ridden around the arena with no problems – well, unless he hears Sweet Boy screaming for him from his stall and gets excited enough to buck! Every morning, he and Sweet Boy are the first into the arena. And, every morning, they tear around & chase each other and get up on their hind legs and box and create a dust cloud that doesn’t settle for a good fifteen minutes.
Sedona’s favorite trick – he thinks it’s his job - is to see to it that the water tank in the arena is either completely emptied or completely full of dirt before he goes home every morning. And every morning, on his way home, he says, “Hey, somebody better do something about that water tank. It’s a mess.” Thanks, big guy.
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.
SOLO is a Saddlebred in his late teens that doesn’t particularly care about what we have to say. If he could speak, every word out of his mouth would fall under sarcasm.
He attempted to gain control over the herd in the field but is continuously taken over by the unstoppable duo of Suze and River. Now, he has no problem pinning his ears a little at them, but for the sake of keeping the peace he lets the girls have their way. That’s not to say he doesn’t push around the other horses, though. Trust be told, the others think of him a bit as a wiseass and kind of a bully.
He has fun, though. He loves to play with the water tanks and can spend endless minutes kicking them with his front hoof, watching the water slosh around. His sense of timing is remarkable and it usually sounds like somebody beating a big bass drum to a perfect rhythm. Out in the arena, he climbs the gate in order to get at the high-hanging tree leaves.
One of his front teeth has a big chip broken off and Jim sometimes accuses him from coming from a trailer park.
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 Solo and Suze, but it wasn’t long before he established himself as the herd’s leader. And River is his main girl. When River’s over on the other side of the field or is taken out of the arena before him (they go out with Solo and Suze every morning), he’s constantly craning his neck to look for her and whinny after her.
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. 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.
What a sweet, sensitive little boy.
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 can quite compete with her best friend, Lee! When she was born, she wasn’t all that much bigger than him, so we think Lee thought that perhaps she was meant to be his playmate! He follows her everywhere and even gets up on his hind legs to lick her all over. Sunny doesn’t mind.
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.
Birth date, place, and name: 3/24/2002, AZ, The Last Suze
SUZIE Q is a big, beautiful dark bay Thoroughbred. We rescued her from a woman who was desperate to get a horse for the show ring. Not to show off the horse, mind you, but to show off herself. A really nasty piece of work.
Shortly after this woman got her, Suze developed a hairline fracture of the right front seasmoid bone. “What?!?” the woman shrieked. “I don’t want a horse with a broken foot!” We did and said so and Suze was ours on the spot.
Suzie loves to be loved. She can’t get enough rubbing and scratching and just buried her nose in the crook of your arm. She also loves water. She always “helps” with the water tanks and is personally responsible for the irretrievable loss of thousands of gallons (she always pulls the hose out when you’re not looking). And when it’s hot and we spray everybody down, Suze thinks it’s her personal show time. If she’s not getting sprayed directly, she conveniently steps on the hose and nobody gets wet ‘till she’s good and wet again.
As loveable as she is, Suze is pretty crazy, too. Whenever any changes occur within her empire in the field (and she is, without a doubt, the Queen Bee), she sweats and shrieks and paces around like a wild animal. She usually gets her way with the other horses – and sometimes with us, too. But we wouldn’t have her any other way.
SWEET BOY must have been really badly abused somewhere along the line. Oh, he’s happy now and a lot more trusting than he was when he first got here, but he must have one nasty story to tell.
First of all, he must have had a human that was brutal when saddling him – kicked him in the belly, yanked hard and fast on the cinch – something like that. Because whenever you put a saddle on him he whipped that ol’ head around pretty violently. He’s getting a lot better because we are always as gentle as possible but it’s pretty obvious that old scars run deep.
He was very headshy and didn’t want anybody to touch him. He was downright nippy and obstreperous on a simple lead rope. A real loner. A sadness in his eyes. And he has the most unique eyes – they’re light brown so you can read almost his every emotion.
Realizing he had a lot of adjusting to do, we decided to just let him be a horse for a year or so with no other pressures. It seems to be working because the nippiness is gone and he leads quite nicely. It’s about time to get a saddle on him again because once you get past all the problems of tacking him, he’s a terrific horse – walks, trots and canters virtually on command and does each with grace.
Oh, that sadness in his eyes? It’s been replaced by mischievouness. And that’s so nice to see.
The story of Sweet Boy raises the ever-present question: Why do so many two-leggeds have to be so mean to horses when all they really want to do is please them?
TOMMY is Tierra Madre's oldest herd member at 32 years old! An off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB), Tommy came to us in February 2017 after living with one family for 25 years. This boy was quiet and incredibly reserved upon being introduced to his new neighbors Hollywood and Tater, but we were amazed at how well they warmed up to one another. Within days, if we took Tommy out of their sight he would cry and whinny and generally be upset until he could be reunited with his friends... even though Tater takes it upon herself to boss him around during turnout time! We suspect that this older boy had stablemates his entire life and doesn't like to be left alone.
Tommy is a gentle, easy-going, and non-confrontational soul (which makes him an easy target for dominant mares like Tater) and his demeanor suggests that he is continiously pleased with everything and anything. "A new fly mask, for me? Wow, thank you so much." "It's time for hay again? Fresh alfalfa?? Wow, thank you so much." He's a bit guarded, but when he gives away his love, it's deep and it's real.
He may not be a spring chicken, but boy, does he make 32 years old look good.
We love you, Tommy Boy.