Somehow 2016 has flown by and the holiday season is behind us! Our year has been memorable in many ways, and as the New Year begins, we always like to reflect back upon what our organization has done, seen, encountered, and learned through the past twelve months.
We kicked off 2016 with a bang – a not so great bang. In January, we were hit with equine coronavirus, a sickness that swept through the ranch and left several of our herd members sick for weeks. This came shortly after Spencer’s accident on Christmas last year, when he got kicked in the eye in a freak accident. Our vet bills were through the roof, and we were up at all hours nursing Rain, Sunny, Heighten, Hudson, Sonora, Sweet Boy, Hollywood, and countless others who fell ill. Our team of volunteers was incredible as we called on them to help us bleach and quarantine everything on the ranch. It was total lockdown for close to a week during the worst of it, but by the end of February, all affected horses were back to normal.
The end of our Arizona winter also saw the creation of our community garden and marked one year since we led a pregnant and unhappy Rain through our gates. Just as we headed into spring, the oldest member of our herd, Wild Bill, decided his time had come to run in the Great Herd, and we set him free in April. It was a peaceful passing, but our gentle ‘Buffalo Bill’ is greatly missed.
We held our first ever Help a Horse Day event at the end of April, raising over $2k for our herd in one day! It was a fun day of painting with horses, Earth Day activities, and listening to an awesome band, the Violet Revolution. While our event did not win the ASPCA’s annual Help a Horse Day contest, we had a wonderful time and met some great new friends. We can’t wait for next year’s contest!
Our resident baby, Sunny, turned one in May! Since she became a yearling, we have begun an informal training process with her each morning that involves gentle groundwork and lunging in the round pen. Soon, we will begin showing her saddles. While we cannot ride her until she is around three years old (her bones are still developing and solidifying), we will gradually begin to put the saddle on her back so she gets used to it and sees how much fun she can have while wearing it. Watching her grow has been one of the greatest gifts we could have ever imagined receiving, and we love her more with each passing day.
We pushed through our triple-digits summer thanks to about a billion gallons of water, the misters in all our stalls, and the volunteers who braved the heat to care for our herd. The hot months were another challenging time for us as we dealt with several diagnoses of chronic laminitis in Chiquita, Sonora, Cadence, and a minor case in Sweet Boy. Come October, we would receive a diagnosis of acute laminitis for Rain. Miraculously, we pulled her through it in what we called our Power Up Rain Campaign. Thanks to supporters like you, she is doing wonderfully today and has been cleared by our vet!
After treating Sonora and Cadence with special booties, diet switch-ups, special medications, softer stalls, and all the love in the universe, these two mares are also completely back to their normal, wild selves and continue to tear up the arena during their turnout time. Our Chiquita was reevaluated at the beginning of November after her gradual improvement peaked and then plateaued for many months. Eventually x-rays told us that her chronic laminitis had become more of an acute problem. Luckily, we will be able to keep her comfortable and very happy for a long while thanks to special wooden ‘clogs’ that give her feet the support she needs. Meanwhile, Chiquita is living the life in her cushy stall and receives special medications every day along with thousands of hugs and kisses from all of us who adore her!
Eventually, we made it out of the grueling summer months and into fall. Our second annual benefit dinner and silent auction at the end of September was a wonderful event filled with gorgeous auction baskets, great food, and fun music. When all was said and done we raised close to $8,000 for our herd! Best of all, all of our friends were together in support for the horses, and it was an unforgettable evening.
During the fall we began monthly open ranches, and we recently started free, monthly horsemanship seminars for the public. Our goal is to continue spreading education about proper equine management and help individuals understand the physical, emotional, and financial commitments owning a horse requires. Additionally, we launched our new management committee: a group of individuals who will be helping us step up our fundraising and community outreach game. And one of the most exciting ventures is the ongoing development of our Equine Experience program. This experience enables individuals and groups to use horses as a means to achieve personal growth, and we are so excited to officially launch it in 2017.
We have continued to improve our administrative practices, outreach, the relationships with our donors, our horsemanship skills, and our transparency. Our volunteer force has grown and strengthened, and our family of supporters and friends is larger – and more incredible – than ever.
As I write this, we are still grieving the loss of our beloved Bentley, who joined the Great Herd on December 9th. Like all our horses do when they are ready to leave Earth, he told us it was his time, and we listened.
But through the ups and the downs, the challenges and the obstacles, we’ve had an incredible year of watching our herd live with joy. Horses live in the here and the now, and to them, each day is an immeasurable gift. Their health and happiness is what inspires us. And you – yes, you – keep us going.
As we reflect on our year, we want to thank our friends, supporters, donors, staff, and volunteers for helping us achieve our mission of giving 31 spirits the happiest lives imaginable. Our wins could not have been made possible without you, and we are grateful for your support, your dedication, and your friendship. Without you, our horses’ lives would be very empty. Without you, there is no Tierra Madre.
From two-legged and four-legged alike, all of us here wish you a truly incredible New Year. And from the bottom of our hearts… thank you. Thank you for being a part of our family.
With sincerity and appreciation,
Alexis Roeckner
Ranch Director