Helping Horses and Humans

N. Loftis Photography

For the nearly decade and a half of its life, the Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary has had one singular mission: to give a happy, healthy, forever home to scores of horses that had been previously abandoned, neglected, injured, abused or surrendered. And they’ve been very successful in doing so, horse after horse, year after year. Nearly 70 horses have called Tierra Madre “home” over the years, and their horses have been as happy and as healthy as the sanctuary could have ever imagined.

As time has progressed, though, they began to notice that the horses that had been healed were, themselves, becoming healers in their own right. Volunteers and visitors began to talk about how the horses were helping them through their various challenges, whether emotional, spiritual or psychological. And those people kept coming back to be with their favorite horse or horses. Some come several times a week, while others come only occasionally—when they need their horse “therapy”.

Soon, entire classes of young people on varying levels of the autism scale—as many as 20 at a time—began coming every week as part of their curriculum. And, then, a couple of programs that help those transitioning from homelessness back into society began bringing their clients on a weekly basis. And a number of people in recovery from substance abuse came and some have never left, saying that the innate honesty and spirituality of Tierra Madre’s horses were helping them greatly in their quests for long-term sobriety and happiness.

Tierra Madre developed an Equine Experiential Coaching Program for one-on-one and small group sessions to help people with emotional traumas and issues in their backgrounds, as well as for those looking to increase their self-awareness, meditation and mindfulness practices. 

It was as if the universe was pointing them in a specific direction. It was telling them that the horses they’ve helped and are helping are healers themselves. And, really, it completes the circle they’ve always envisioned: people helping horses to heal, and then having those horses helping people to heal. It’s incredible to see and experience.

Well, they’re formalizing their new expanded mission—that of their horses helping people—and are in the process of developing their own outreach program to expand the number of people they can help.

They’re growing. Yes, they are. They’re growing so they can help more spirits that, through no fault of their own, find themselves in need—both two-legged and four.

To better explain their expanded mission, they’re changing their name. From now on, they’ll be the Tierra Madre Horse and Human Sanctuary. Because that’s what they are.

Their fourth annual Benefit Fundraiser will be held Friday, October 12, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Foothills Community Foundation, located at 34250 N. 60 Street, in Scottsdale. A video and speaker program will begin at 5 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person and $50 per couple, and can be purchased at

The Tierra Madre Horse and Human Sanctuary is located at 27115 N. 45th St., in Cave Creek. For more information, call 480-469-9166 or visit

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