Every year, we send out an end-of-the-year letter to our wonderful friends and donors which we like to post after the holidays. 2017 was an action-packed, memorable, and fulfilling year here in Cave Creek, Arizona, and one of our favorite things to do during the New Year is look back on what has happened over the course of twelve quick months. We reflect and move forward into the brand new year a little stronger, a little wiser, and more grateful for people like you who support our mission and our horses.
2017 started out with an array of activity in the form of the usual farrier and vet visits, open ranches, fundraisers, and volunteer orientations. We began to lay the foundation for a brand new board of directors and strengthen our ties to our community. In February, we welcomed a 32-year-old OTTB – Tommy – into the family. Our oldest horse, Tommy is still thriving nearly a year later and is a shining example of how every horse deserves a happy, safe retirement after years of serving humans.
Towards the beginning of this year, our sweet and opinionated Quarter horse Jazz was diagnosed with an acute case of laminitis and we embarked on a seven month journey to bring him back. He and his best friend in the world – Rain – actually fought through the same disease together, and after diet changes, corrective shoeing, the right supplements and medicines, and all the love in the world, those two gallop around our arena today with nary a limp, with laminitis far in their rearview mirrors.
March saw the beginning of our first-ever social media campaign in preparation for the ASPCA’s annual Help A Horse Day celebration and contest. During the days leading up to the event, we launched a series of videos – one for each horse – which highlighted each story and personality. And on April 22, we hosted our second Help A Horse Day in partnership with a number of local vendors. To our astonishment and delight, Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary was chosen by the ASPCA to receive one of the grand prizes: a $10,000 grant!
With light must come shadow, for even with all of our wins that we experienced we had to deal with loss, too. In May, we lost our wild, beautiful, spirited Sonora after a swift and devastating battle with acute laminitis. The ranch will never be the same without her.
In June, our queen – big Suze – was hospitalized at Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center for a nasty cellulitis infection in her hind right leg. She made a full recovery, and you guys jumped in with both feet to help us fundraise for the thousands of dollars we needed in order to save her life. We continued through the rest of the summer, caring for Suze as well as several other members of the herd, including Studley who gets nasty summer sores each year! We all survived thanks to our misters in the stalls, our sprinklers in the arena, and lots of water for horse and human alike. And, you know, the occasional box of donuts in the tack room.
An exciting partnership emerged over the summer when – through the continuation of our Equine Experiential Coaching program – we met with the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) and they agreed to bring their CommunityWorks program to the ranch. For the past few months, groups of high school students have followed in the footsteps of our friends at Greenway High School (who have been coming to the ranch for several years!) and worked with our team to learn about hoof care, feeding, and basic horsemanship. We are excited to continue in January!
During the summer we additionally saw one of the hardest cases Tierra Madre ever had to endure. We took in an older gelding named Marvel who had laminitis and was to be put down to spare medical bills. Tragically, just a day after we took him in, we discovered he had an impaction in his intestinal tract that was not allowing him to pass manure. After four days of flooding his system with IV fluids and doing everything in our power to save him, his condition deteriorated and at the advice of our vet at Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center, we sent him to the Great Herd. It was a devastating loss, and one that reminded us acutely of the importance of continuing our work.
In August, we were contacted about four abandoned donkeys living on privatized land, and after partnering with the Arizona Equine Rescue Organization and Triple R Horse Rescue in Cave Creek, we were able to safely rescue the four donkeys. Three of the bunch were younger, healthy, and more likely to be adopted. One, an older and less healthy donkey, risked homelessness – that is, if she survived the malnourishment and dehydration she endured out in the desert. To our happy surprise, this little donkey made it through, and in September, she came home to Tierra Madre to live out her days. She is now our Abuela and the love of our lives. Her happy, excited braying is the highlight of our days!
Towards the end of this year, we hosted our third annual benefit dinner and silent auction here at our ranch – and it was our most financially successful benefit yet! We welcomed CMA artist Ashley Wineland to perform and the Wandering Donkey to feed the crowd of 125+, and best of all, we raised roughly $7k for our horses.
And even now, as we wrap up this year, we still have a great deal going on: Tater is thriving after struggling with laminitis; Rusty is newly free of ulcers in both his eyes; and Suze is getting over a second round of cellulitis, for which our friends at After the Finish Line awarded us a $1,000 medical grant! On December 21st, we sent our little Chiquita to the Great Herd after a long, hard fight with laminitis. We are still reeling from the loss, but we are taking comfort from knowing she is out of pain.
Between the highlights – and lowlights – of this year are the untold stories – the wonderful, fleeting moments that remind us why we do what we do: watching our horses run as fast as they can in the arena; coming up with new fundraisers like “Root Beer Floats for Teeth Floats”; welcoming the Boy Scouts through our gates; making new friends; working with our vet and farrier team on difficult cases; looking into the eyes of our herd and knowing they are safe and happy and loved.
We live and we laugh, we mourn and we cry, we set our standards high and aim for the best we can offer our horses in any circumstance. We seek to help those in need – the two-legged and the four – and we charge into any battle with which we are faced with determination to come through on the other side.
It has been a wild ride of a year, with so many lessons learned and so many new opportunities for us all, and on behalf of each of us here at Tierra Madre, I want to thank you for being a part of it. Whether you donated your time, your talent, your treasure, or some combination of the three, I want you to know that you are appreciated beyond anything we could ever express.
Thank you for being part of our family and part of our journey. May your New Year be as wonderful as you!
With warmest regards,
Alexis Roeckner Ferri
Executive Direcor
Jim Gath
Founder and President
The two-legged team of Tierra Madre
And… Solo & Suze & Kiss & the Min & M’Stor & Miss Hidden River & Studley & Chance & Sweet Boy & Sedona & Hiz Nibz & Rusty & Hollywood & Cadence & Guess & Princess Bella & Hudson & Heighten & Jani & Buddy & the Iron Man & Slayer & Hard Bourbon & Spencer & Jazz & Danny & Rain & Sunny & Chianti & Tommy & Abuela & Lee