Sonora is my 11-year-old sorrel paint mare that came into my life on December 16, 2014. I didn’t intend for her to become my horse at first, but she certainly did.
The Saturday before I met her, I was at work when the owner of Tierra Madre Horse Sanctuary came up to me with a concerned look on his face.
“There’s a lady on the phone asking if we can take her horse,” he said. “Apparently she’s out of control, and if this woman can’t find a home for her she’s going to have her put down.”
As full as we were, neither of us could allow that. I called the woman as soon as possible and arranged for the horse to be brought to Tierra Madre on the following Tuesday, December 16th. We both agreed that it would be the best thing for her as we figured out what was making the horse “crazy”.
That morning, the mare, named Missy, was supposed to arrive via her owner’s sister’s trailer at 10:30. At 10:45 I got a call from her owner. She was hysterical.
“She won’t go in the trailer. She’s completely out of control. It’s like she knows she’s going away for good this time, I know it. I’ve never been afraid of her before!” she cried into the phone. I asked where she was. Ten minutes later, I was on her property. And after I had calmed the woman and her sister down I walked over to take a look at the wild mare I was there to pick up. And I fell head over heels in love.
I spent nearly an hour with her, walking her around, speaking to her gently and getting to know her. I walked her over to the trailer to let her sniff it and reassured her, over and over again, that I was taking her home to a place where she could be free and happy and rid of any anxiety or fear she might have had in her life. She kept looking at me anxiously, clearly asking why in the world she should trust me.
“You have no reason to trust me,” was my answer for her. “But I need you to trust me now. I promise – I promise you – that you’re safe with me. You have nothing to fear ever again.”
She looked intently into my eyes for a brief moment. With me leading her, into the trailer she went. Through the Tierra Madre gates she came. And the second I got her halter back on, I let her out into the huge arena on our property so she could stretch her legs in the first time in ages.
She flew. She galloped and bucked and reared and didn’t stop for a good 20 minutes. And when she finally did, it was to stop right in front of me and look at me with shining eyes.
I smiled at her. “I promised, didn’t I?”
The owner of the ranch watched us together as I led her back to the round pen where she was to stay during her first few days. He saw her rubbing her face against me in gratitude and watched her follow me around in the round pen. And he came over to us and pointed right at the beautiful sorrel mare that was happily nuzzling my hands.
“That’s your horse,” he said to me. “You saved her. She is yours.”
I named the mare Sonora, or Nora for short, after the Sonoran Desert. The desert is beautiful, wild and completely untamed, just like my baby girl.
Nora is energetic and pushy at times and stubborn and spirited and we have a lot of learning to do. There is nothing wrong with her physically as was believed. Instead, her spirit needs some time to mend. Although I’ve worked with horses for years, I never could call any of them my own. And even though Nora is technically my horse now, I still can’t help but feel that instead, she owns me.
I watched Hidalgo a few days after Nora came home. There is a line in the movie that I think completely sums up my horse and me. The main character, Frank Hopkins, is asked how he tamed his wild mustang Hidalgo. His reply?