Sabino Recovery’s therapeutic model is designed to heal the whole person, and so to that end, our horses are also used to work with residents on how to have fun, an experience that is often scarce for those who arrive with trauma, addiction or depression. In addition to equine therapy sessions, clients are encouraged to spend time with and care for the horses. This time with the horses outside of group can be powerfully therapeutic in that it provides clients the opportunity to connect with, touch, be accountable and take care of another living being. The process of learning, mastering new skills and, in some cases, overcoming fears builds self-esteem. Many residents report that the simple act of “being with” a horse gives them access to healing that is profound.

In the video above presents the Equine Program and the importance of the healing work of the horses here at Sabino Recovery

Meet the Herd

Big Flirt

Big Flirt

Gelding, Born 2001

Big Flirt used to work as a trail horse in the White Mountains. He had to stay perfectly behaved and obedient to keep his rider’s stay safe and the ride consistent and reliable. A worker at the company decided to buy Big Flirt and bring him down to Tucson to be a therapy horse. She then had to move, and Big Flirt found his way to Sabino. He is still a lover of the outdoors and adventure, and is learning to enjoy a job where he can be more focused on the individuals he works with and develop his own unique personality.

Favorite Quote: “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” – John Burroughs



Mare, Born 2005

Tomboy’s former profession was as a trail horse in the White Mountains. She learned to be very well behaved, respectful, and to be diligent. She did not bond to people as they were only there for a short ride. A worker at the company decided to buy Tomboy and was surprised to find a few months later that she was pregnant. It is not known who sired the foal; however, Tomboy has her beautiful son Lucky. Tomboy was then brought down to Tucson to be a therapy horse and when her owner had to move, she came with Lucky to Sabino. She is dependable, strong, and steady. Although reserved due to the requirements of her previous profession, she loves a good scratch and a snack.

Favorite Quote: “It’s sometimes easier to help others rather than helping yourself. The trick is to listen to your “self” as a friend.” – Unknown



Gelding, Born 2013

Lucky was born to Tomboy in the White Mountains in a trail riding outfit. He spent some time in the mountains, then learned how to be ridden and have manners. When his mother was brought down to Tucson he came with, and grew up as a therapy horse, coming to Sabino when Tomboy’s owner had to move. He is still young, with a playful loving personality and a genuine curiosity for the world. He enjoys affection, snacks, and turnout time where he can run, buck, and play with the other horses. Lucky is a great reminder to cherish every moment in life and to always look for some fun.

Favorite Quote: “Don’t wait for everything to be perfect before you decide to enjoy your life.”



Mare, Born 2002

Lena used to be a rodeo competitor: barrel racing, parades, flag carrying, and other events. Her life was very chaotic and the job was stressful. Lena’s rider would spur her forward, while simultaneously holding her back. She would get so nervous that she could only prance in place. This life made her constantly anxious. The hard riding made her feet hurt all the time and they had to be injected with medication to keep her going. When her owner stopped competing, Lena lost her purpose. She was rescued, and given a new job as a therapy horse. She has learned to calm down and enjoy each moment to the fullest. Lena loves affection and gladly gives it back to you, always very aware of your presence and your feelings. Occasionally, she can get overwhelmed and excited, reverting back to old ways, but will work with you on being present.

Favorite Quote: “To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” – Unknown



Mare, Born 2003

Butterscotch is a halflinger, and used to work as a driving horse with her brother. They lived in an area with many hills; however, she hated pulling the cart over the hills. It was tremendous work and not what she cared to do, so Butterscotch was sold and started a new job pulling wagons in Old Tucson. This was also difficult work and her attitude was not pleasing to the owners, so she was sold again. Although Butterscotch misses her brother her life as a therapy horse is much more rewarding. She is loved for her strong personality and antics, and is a great companion by always staying strong and steady.

Favorite Quote: “Sometimes the strength within you is not a big fiery flame for all to see, it is just a tiny spark that whispers ever so softly, ‘You got this, keep going.” – Unknown



Mare, Born 2010

Tuffy lived with 24 other horses for the first few months of her life. Her owner kept breeding and collecting horses until there were too many. She suffered from an injury at a very young age that her owner could not take care of. One day, a woman came in with a truck. The doors were opened and she jumped inside to try to walk through it to get to her mother on the other side. However, while she was inside the truck, the doors shut and her mother walked away without looking back. Tuffy was given a new home to receive treatment and heal, hence becoming a therapy horse. She learned to pull a cart and absolutely loves this job, hence why you will usually see her prancing around with her head held high. She loves butt scratches, and desires to help others gain confidence in themselves, no matter one’s size!

Favorite Quote: “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh




Gelding, Born 1991

Skippy is a registered paint horse, and began his career as a show horse, with some work as a reining horse. He soon grew tired of this job, as it was boring and unfulfilling. Skippy’s owners believed he was too old, so he moved on to become a therapy horse and proved that age does not stop accomplishment. He is a trusted companion of many, a great beginner rider horse, and a lover. He leans into affection and treats, and often prefers human company over the other rowdy young horses. 

Favorite Quote: “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” –Elbert Hubbard



Mare, Born 1999

Ruby is a Clydesdale and Morgan cross; bred in New Mexico to be a competition pulling horse, with the registered name Ruby Begonia. After she was born she was deemed too small for the task and sold, never having a chance to prove herself. Ruby moved to Colorado where over time she became a therapy horse. She is sweet and loving, but has learned to stick up for herself and is often seen cuddling friends with her big head, then pushing them away if they get too close. She is very dependable and loves to go on trail rides with new riders.

Favorite Quote: “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” – Brene Brown