Volunteers are the heart and soul of Tierra Madre Horse & Human Sanctuary. Every single morning, they can be found all over the ranch scrubbing water tubs, mucking stalls, cleaning feeders, raking up hay, moving bales into carts, sweeping, grooming, turning horses out into the arena, feeding, and—best of all—loving on each horse.
Volunteering at Tierra Madre is hard work and requires a great deal of commitment. What you get in return, however, is priceless.
At Tierra Madre, we take investing in our volunteers very seriously. In addition to undergoing a mandatory equine safety course, volunteers learn our unique philosophy of natural horsemanship. This includes learning about the psychology behind why horses act and think the way they do and the importance of treating horses as our equals. Volunteers learn the art of approaching, haltering, grooming, and leading horses with very unique personalities in addition to learning about hoof care, medicine, wound care, and equine nutrition. Best of all, our volunteers are permitted to get up close and personal with the herd each and every day. We encourage volunteers to love on the horses and devote time during their shifts to just playing with their four-legged friends.
Volunteer shifts are from 7:30am – 11am, though volunteers are permitted to come earlier if they prefer. Tierra Madre is open every day of the year and shifts are needed all seven days throughout the week.
Because of the nature of our work and the extremely detail-oriented tasks completed by volunteers that pertain to the health and safety of the humans and the horses, we do have a process to ensure that a volunteer position at Tierra Madre is a fit for each applicant. We do have the following requirements for our volunteers:
⦁ Be 16 and older. However, individuals 15 and under are permitted to volunteer alongside a legal parent or guardian who has gone through a volunteer orientation and training. The parent or guardian MUST be with their child during volunteer shifts at all times.
⦁ Commit to no fewer than two volunteer shifts a month. This averages to two times a month. With procedures constantly changing and a diverse herd of horses with complicated medical and nutritional needs, we need our volunteers to be continuously aware of current happenings at the ranch.
⦁ Be very detail-oriented. Things like an unlatched gate or a water tub that didn’t get filled can be the difference between life and death. Tierra Madre volunteers are expected to pay very close attention to small details that are actually big details.
⦁ Love horses. While horse experience is preferred, it is not required, and our biggest joy is when the volunteers who walk through our gates LOVE horses and are excited to learn!
Step 1: Fill out a volunteer application. You can fill out the application by clicking the button below. You will hear from us within one week. Your application will be reviewed, and we will respond to you via email or phone to schedule you for a volunteer orientation. If you have questions or concerns for us about volunteering (which we encourage!), this is the time to ask.
Step 2: Attend your first volunteer orientation. You be scheduled for and attend Part One of your volunteer orientation. Typically these are held on a Saturday between 8:30am – 10am. During the first part of volunteer orientation, we go over the history of Tierra Madre, take you on a tour and introduce you to the horses, go over policies and procedures, teach an equine safety 101 course, and talk about our unique natural horsemanship philosophy. You will also test drive mucking stalls and scrubbing water tubs, as you will be completing these tasks during your volunteer shifts.
Step 3: Attend your second volunteer orientation. After your first volunteer orientation, you will then schedule your second orientation. This is a mandatory one-on-one training period that takes place on the day of your choosing. You will be walked through all the different tasks completed by volunteers: mucking, scrubbing and refilling waters, cleaning feeders, making mashes walking horses to the arena, etc. This is a day for you to begin to learn our morning schedule and how we do things. This process takes time; you will not be expected to learn everything on this day! YOU MUST COMPLETE THIS TRAINING WITHIN TWO WEEKS OF YOUR FIRST ORIENTATION OR YOU WILL BE ASKED TO REPEAT THE FIRST ORIENTATION CLASS.
Step 4: Your first day! After your second orientation, you will be added to our scheduling program where you will let us know which days you would like to volunteer. As long as we see you a minimum of twice a month, you get to decide what days to come. Unless otherwise given permission, volunteers are expected to stay their entire shift, from 7:30am – 11am.
Step 5: You have the best time ever volunteering at Tierra Madre and we are thrilled that you're part of the team.
Begin the process of joining our volunteer family by sending in your application.
Thank you for your interest in being a part of our team!
It is the policy of Tierra Madre Horse & Human Sanctuary to ensure equal volunteering opportunities without discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by law.
At this time, Tierra Madre Horse & Human Sanctuary does not require COVID-19 vaccinations of its staff or volunteers. However, we do require that any individual showing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, fatigue, difficulty breathing, sore throat, body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell) alert Tierra Madre management immediately prior to volunteering or visiting and cancel their visit. Volunteers or staff that have tested positive for COVID-19 are additionally required to present proof of a negative test to Tierra Madre management prior to returning. In the meantime, volunteers, staff, and visitors socially distance while on site. Management makes every effort to encourage hand washing and frequent sanitization of public surfaces.
Close-toed shoes are the most important things (NO steel-toed shoes!). We strongly recommend quality footwear that will protect your feet as well as long pants, a hat, a bandana, and work gloves. Sun screen and water will always be supplied for the volunteers, plus we usually make it a priority to have yummy snacks on hand. No matter what the weather, even though there are water bottles for the taking here at the ranch, ALWAYS bring water. And you can never go wrong with bringing a carrot or two for your favorite horse.
Volunteers must be aged 16 or older; however those wishing to volunteer who are 15 and under may accompany their legal parent or guardian on volunteer shifts. The expectation is that both parent/child attend mandatory volunteer orientations and trainings. The Tierra Madre family is made of people of all different age groups!
As long as your dog is well-behaved on a leash (for the safety of your dog and the horses), and avoids going into stalls/pens/arenas, then you’re very welcome to bring your 4-legged friend!
While our employees occasionally work with horses that can (and like to) be ridden, volunteers and interns do not ride at the ranch. Tierra Madre is first and foremost a facility for previously abused, neglected, injured, or unwanted horses, many of whom cannot or do not care to be ridden, and our priority is to give them what they need.
Yes. Because Tierra Madre is a horse sanctuary, there are bound to be some horses here and there that have some psychological challenges – in other words, horses that are aggressive or would feel threatened if you got too close to them. A ranch manager will tell you which horses are “ranch manager only” horses on your first visit/day.
No. Tierra Madre Horse & Human Sanctuary has a unique philosophy about interacting and working with horses that must be taught and practiced. Consistency is the key to working with our herd, and all humans must be on the exact same page with regard to approaching, haltering, leading, grooming, bathing, etc. Additionally, sanctuary horses are a different species of horse. Equines that have been abused, neglected, injured, or traumatized in some way require different ways of thinking that Tierra Madre personnel must emphasize to all volunteers. Individuals are not permitted to go into the stalls of our horses or work with them until they have been through an official volunteer orientation.
Yes! In fact, several current volunteers and staff members discovered Tierra Madre because of their need to complete volunteer work. Our ranch managers are happy to sign off on log work, write letters of recommendation, or do anything else that might be needed for assignments and assessments. Please note that court-ordered community service is subject to review and approval by Tierra Madre management.
No. Our policies and routines can change between orientations. For the purpose of keeping you up to date on any changes and keeping your safety a priority, we ask that you complete an orientation and begin volunteering WITHIN 30 days of each other. This way, all of the information given to you is accurate for your safety and that of the horses.
Copyright © 2023 Tierra Madre Horse and Human Sanctuary - All Rights Reserved.
27115 N. 45th Street Cave Creek, AZ 85331
7:30am – 11am
365 days a year
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