Are you an official nonprofit organization?
Yes. Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
When are you open?
We are open from 7:30am to 11am, 365 days a year. If you are not an official volunteer or intern, please call to make an appointment before your arrival so we can make your visit something to remember. Due to our small staff and busy mornings, we unfortunately cannot accommodate walk-ins. For more details about visiting us, please click here.
I am in love with one of the horses. Do you ever adopt them out?
No. Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary is a forever home – once horses walk through our gates they do not transfer hands ever again.
How do I become a volunteer?
Please fill out an application here. Once your application is submitted, our volunteer coordinator, Denise, will contact you. She will sign you up for a volunteer orientation during which you will be introduced to the Tierra Madre family, learn about horsemanship 101, go through safety procedures and guidelines, and much more. Orientations are held the last Saturday of every month with a few exceptions for our big events and major holidays. Orientation times are 8am to 10am, with an optional shadowing time following orientation from 10am to 11am.
What should I wear/bring when visiting/volunteering?
Close-toed shoes are the most important things (NO steel-toed shoes!). We strongly recommend quality footwear that will protect your feet as well as long pants, a hat, a bandana, and work gloves. Sun screen and water will always be supplied for the volunteers, plus we usually make it a priority to have yummy snacks on hand. No matter what the weather, even though there are water bottles for the taking here at the ranch, ALWAYS bring water. And you can never go wrong with bringing a carrot or two for your favorite horse.
How old do I have to be to volunteer?
You can volunteer at any age! We do ask for volunteers aged 12 and under to be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times, and while it is not required, we strongly recommend that volunteers between the ages of 13 and 17 are accompanied by a parent or guardian as well. Due to our busy mornings, our volunteers are not supervised by Tierra Madre management 100% of the time. (You can read more information about a typical day at the ranch in the volunteer manual listed under Our Programs.) All volunteers under the age of 18 will need a parent or guardian to sign a waiver on their behalf. The Tierra Madre family is made of people of all different age groups!
Can I bring my dog out with me when I volunteer?
As long as your dog is well behaved off leash, avoids going into stalls/pens/arenas, and gets along with our (very friendly) ranch dog, Lee, then your dog is welcome to accompany you to the ranch!
Can I ride at Tierra Madre?
While our employees occasionally work with horses that can (and like to) be ridden, volunteers and interns do not ride at the ranch. Tierra Madre is first and foremost a facility for previously abused, neglected, injured or unwanted horses, many of whom cannot or do not care to be ridden, and our priority is to give them what they need.
Do you offer riding lessons?
No. At this time, Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary does not offer riding lessons, though this could change in the near future. In the past, we offered riding lessons only during the months between October and April.
Your fundraisers are so boring. Can I plan something for the ranch?
Yes! We LOVE for our volunteers to get involved in fundraising. Any ideas you might have, we want to hear them and make them happen. The sky is the limit. Please contact us if you would like to plan a fundraiser for us.
What happens when a horse dies?
Being a forever home, Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary promises health and happiness to each of its family members. When neither of those things are no longer possible for our horses, we send them home to the Great Herd with great dignity and respect. Our vet comes to administer a humane injection and another organization comes to take the body away. More often than not, the body is taken to Native American tribes that will recycle it and use it with honor and reverence. We are with the horse until the very end – or, as some might view it, until the very beginning.
Are there any horses I should avoid while working?
Yes. Because Tierra Madre is a horse sanctuary, there are bound to be some horses here and there that have some psychological challenges – in other words, horses that are aggressive or would feel threatened if you got too close to them. A ranch manager will tell you which horses are “ranch manager only” horses on your first visit/day.
I know a lot about horses already. Can I just come visit and work with them without going through an orientation?
No. Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary has a unique philosophy about interacting and working with horses that must be taught and practiced. Consistency is the key to working with our herd, and all humans must be on the exact same page with regards to approaching, haltering, leading, grooming, bathing, etc. Additionally, sanctuary horses are a different species of horse. Equines that have been abused, neglected, injured, or traumatized in some way require different ways of thinking that Tierra Madre personnel must emphasize to all volunteers. Individuals are not permitted to go into the stalls of our horses or work with them until they have been through an official volunteer orientation.
I have a horse I don’t want anymore. Can you take him/her in for me?
Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary is first and foremost a home to horses that – quite literally – have nowhere else to go. In other words, the severely abused, neglected, or injured horses that would otherwise be sent to slaughter take priority. We will gladly put you in contact with our network of horse rescues and sanctuaries across the Valley, but we typically do not take in perfectly healthy horses whose owners are still capable of taking care of them.
Am I allowed to complete community service hours at Tierra Madre?
Yes! In fact, several volunteers and workers discovered Tierra Madre because of their need to complete volunteer work. Our ranch managers are happy to sign off on log work, write letters of recommendation, or do anything else that might be needed for assignments and assessments.
I can’t come out to volunteer very often, but I’d love to help you guys in any way I can. Do you have any suggestions?
Absolutely. You can help us raise awareness by telling your friends and family all about the ranch. Additionally, we value those that do grant writing, fundraiser brainstorming and planning, and marketing. We have two committees that constantly need members: our grantseeking committee and our benefit committee. Please contact us if you’d like to join either. You do not need to be a volunteer to join a committee.