Tamaya horse rescue chief volunteer Ben Braden and one of the many horses at Tamaya Horse Rehabilitation program. (Garrison Wells/Observer)
When I was a kid, I liked to save things. I was in 4H, rodeo and FFA and worked on a ranch. This is all I ever wanted to do — Connie Collis, founder and owner of Tamaya Horse Rehabilitation program
Tamaya Horse Rehabilitation Program plans a major push to get its services to residents and businesses in Rio Rancho, Albuquerque and other local communities.
The idea was an offshoot of the organization’s fight to survive during the pandemic, said Connie Collis, founder and owner.
Before COVID-19, the operation relied on a significant chunk of its business from guests at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa. During the pandemic, as guest numbers declined, business dropped.
“Four years ago, I would have said if we don’t have local business, it’s OK, but this COVID thing changed everything,” Collis said. “If it hadn’t been for local people, we probably wouldn’t have made it through.”
Between the stables there and the horse rehab program, “we do a lot of corporate events for people to come to the Hyatt and we rescue horses. A lot of the horses are local, and we really want to go for that local support.”
Collis said she was surprised to find out how many residents were unaware of the program, considering the Hyatt has been there for 20 years along with the horse rescue program.
“There are people who don’t know we are out there,” she said. “We need to talk to these groups and get them to be a part of it.”
The horse rescue group has joined the Rio Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce, and plans to start a publicity campaign that includes speaking at local events, businesses and media. They plan to hit local radio and to do a video with The Observer.
Ben Braden, head stables volunteer, “has been willing to go door to door,” she said.
At the Hyatt, there are 60 horses. In the program overall, there are 103 horses with some at Collis’ business CWW Feed in San Ysidro.
They come from all different places and all different conditions,” Braden said.
Santana, for instance, came from Placitas.
Some of the horses, he said, are surrendered and are in pretty good shape, but haven’t been handled or worked with for a while and need a little bit of upkeep.
A 38-year U.S. Marine retired veteran who saw plenty of action, Braden said the horses are his therapy.
“They give me more than I ever give them,” he said.
On Thursday nights during the summer, the program puts on a rodeo of sorts, mostly for kids, an interactive thing “for family fun,” Collins said.
“People coming out to support those is huge,” she said.
The Santa Ana Pueblo, Collins said, has been “very supportive and wonderful.”
“This is my lifelong passion,” she said. “When I was a kid, I liked to save things. I was in 4H, rodeo and FFA and worked on a ranch. This is all I ever wanted to do.”
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