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Tamaya is Horse Heaven for People Too

Eyore and Bob are greeters at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. (Photo by P. Elizabeth Anderson.)

Eyore and Bob are greeters at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa. (Photo by P. Elizabeth Anderson. )


By P. Elizabeth Anderson for Pet News and Views

Nothing is sweeter than an uplifting glimpse of heaven. Mine came recently courtesy of the rescued horses at the Tamaya Horse Rehab in the Santa Ana Pueblo, outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

I was shamefully ignorant that horses are abandoned by the thousands, as is common for cats and dogs, when ranchers and farmers, struggling with drought and economic adversity can no longer care for them.  It may be hard to fathom seeing a horse left to fend for itself, skinny to the bone, and hungry or coming across a dead horse on the road.

Horses have made humans what we are, contributing to human culture in unsurpassable ways. That these majestic creatures are abandoned and meet tragic ends is almost incomprehensible, certainly indefensible.

Tamaya Horse Rehab shares the name of its primary benefactor, the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, where upon my arrival, I was greeted by the braying of a burro, Eeyore, who was sharing a corral in the front of the hotel with a beautiful blond horse, Bob.  I jumped from the van and headed for the corral when a sign that horses can bite stopped me in my tracks.  Still enchanted, I figured the sign was a ruse to keep me from getting a kiss.  I heeded the warning, followed the rules, and got more information.

I discovered that the hotel sits on 500 acres of sovereign land, is the namesake of the Tamayame people, and that Tamaya means “a quiet and special place.”  True to its mission to respect the land and people of the pueblo, the Tamaya Hyatt supports a horse rehabilitation program for neglected and abandoned horses.

Connie Collis directs the stables at Tamaya Resort and Spa. (Photo by P. Elizabeth Anderson.)

Connie Collis directs the stables at Tamaya Resort and Spa. (Photo by P. Elizabeth Anderson.) (All photos are copyrighted. )


Connie Collis, an angel of compassion with 45 years experience training and caring for horses, directs the Stables at Tamaya. She is a horsewoman of the finest order, who used to have a horse in her yard, was married to a cowboy, and devotes herself to saving these creatures.  “My whole life has been horses,” she said.  She and her brother were born into a family that taught them to rely on and respect the land and its animals.  She abandoned her dreams of being a rodeo star, but never lost her passion for horses.

Ten years ago the Hyatt approached her to offer riding lessons and trail rides. She began collecting horses and people started giving her horses; her stable quickly grew from 10 to 40 horses.

When she approached the Hyatt about the rehabilitation program last year, they agreed, and a perfect partnership was born.  “I could not do this without the Hyatt,” Collis says. “I really know how to find horses and care for them, but there is no way I know how to market this.”

The stories of abandoned horses simultaneously break your heart and make your spirit soar.  A homeless horse usually has a heartbroken person attached. With the Hyatt, a small crew of wranglers, and dedicated volunteers, Collis saves horses and people.

Collis asks no questions and will return a horse to responsible families if they get back on their feet.  Owners are always welcomed to visit, and many do, volunteer, and donate.  Collis has seen people’s lives turned around when they find a safe place for their horse.

In addition to surrenders, wild horses find their way to Connie, like Tumbleweed, a spirited mustang filly from a wild horse herd in Placitas, whose mother was killed shortly after giving birth.  Tumble will be cared for and either join the stable or get adopted.  One thing for sure, he will never go to slaughter, a growing threat for American horses.

My day at the stable was marked by brief, soaking downpours, mixed with sun.  Having had riding lessons years ago, I was a bit afraid of being so close to such powerful majesty.  But the wranglers accepted the tenderfoots, and the volunteers I met, Julie, Jim, and Aida embraced me.

Horacio, my gracious and patient wrangler, showed me how to brush, touch, and saddle my horse, Corey.  I mounted up, and Horacio led us to join the other riders who had earlier braved the rain. 

Sensing my timidity, Jim suggested I meet Frankie, who had been bottle-fed from birth.  Obviously accustomed to people, he was highly interactive, bumping me, nudging me, trying to eat my iPhone camera, and letting me nuzzle him for a hug. 

Jim explained that once you gain a horse’s confidence and they know you will not hurt them, you can interact with them more, petting them, and walking around them.  I am absolutely homesick for Tamaya and gaining that level of confidence is atop my bucket list. 

There is no limit to how many horses Tamaya can save with our help.  I encourage you to visit,  take a corporate program, send money for feed, or adopt a horse.

P. Elizabeth Anderson is an award-winning journalist and author. She was a monthly columnist for a national women’s magazine, MODE and The Providence Journal in RI. She was a consulting writer and editor for the Humane Society of the U.S., and her last book explores the relationship between people and companion animals.

7 comments to Tamaya is Horse Heaven for People Too

  • P. Elizabeth

    Thank you, Michele, for allowing me to write this guest post. I hope your readers will enjoy it, and feel urged to check out the Tamaya website and donate. Thank you also for all you do for animals. I am deeply grateful to you for helping me helping the horses through your wonderful site.

  • Kari Johnson

    So glad to learn about Tamaya. I love horses, and this post is so beautifully written. I am going to have to visit. Thank You.

  • Carol

    After reading this beautiful article by Elizabeth, we want to go. Everyone in our home loves horses. Thank You for sharing this story with us. Bless you.

  • Marni

    Elizabeth is such a beautiful writer. You can see how much she loves horses and Tamaya.

  • Bess

    I want to go to Tamaya. What a special place. Thank you Elizabeth for letting us know about this wonderful place.

  • Alice

    I love reading Pet News and Views, and I know Michele how fussy you get about guest posts and all of your posts. This is good journalism. Thank You. And thank you Elizabeth.

  • Tom

    We are horse people in our house, and we are going to visit Tamaya. We all need to support places as good as this one. Thank You.