Equine rescue hopes verified status encourages donors

Four Corners Equine Rescue undertook physical improvements to earn new status

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
  • The equine rescue operation was started in 2004 and has 46 residents.
  • The majority of horses at the rescue were once wild horses.
  • The rescue also takes in horses seized by law enforcement.
Founder Debbie Coburn pets Nova, an orphaned filly, Wednesday at Four Corners Equine Rescue.

AZTEC — Over the past 13 years, hundreds of horses and other equines have found a home through the Four Corners Equine Rescue, a local nonprofit organization that received verified status from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries last month. 

The rescue operation began pursuing the status more than a year ago. Debbie Coburn, the organization's founder, said she hopes the status will give people more confidence when donating money.

Coburn said sanctuaries are not required to have verified status. The status provides two main advantages — confidence for donors and an advantage when seeking grants.

Representatives from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries visited the organization and reviewed its policies prior to awarding the status. The federation required Four Corners Equine Rescue to make a few improvements to the facility prior to granting it the verified status. Coburn said most of those improvements had to do with fencing.

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In a press release, Valerie Taylor, the director of accreditation for GFAS, highlighted the rescue's collaboration with other equine rescues in New Mexico, as well as its advocacy work as demonstrations of its commitment to horses and other equines. The rescue organization works with the New Mexico Equine Rescue Alliance to take in horses from throughout the state. It has also campaigned against horse slaughter.

Buff looks out of his pen Wednesday at Four Corners Equine Rescue.

While the organization now has verified status, Coburn said fencing still remains a project the nonprofit will be working on in the future. She hopes to replace panel fences with pipe fences.

The organization doesn't only take in horses. Two donkeys, Itty Bitty and Judy, also live at the sanctuary. The friendly donkeys will be visiting with children during the afternoon on Halloween at Fur-Real Thrift Store, 915 Farmington Ave. in Farmington.

Four Corners Equine Rescue began in 2004 with foals from Premarin farms. Premarin is an estrogen-replacement drug made from the urine of pregnant mares.

Debbie Coburn interacts with a horse Wednesday at Four Corners Equine Rescue.

After Coburn began rehoming horses, people in the Four Corners region started telling her about local horses that needed homes. The organization's purpose soon switched to a New Mexico focus. Coburn said about 65 percent of the horses the organization takes in are wild horses.

There are 46 residents at Four Corners Equine Rescue. The newest resident is a palomino paint named Wings, a 6-year-old who gingerly walked around his pen Wednesday afternoon. Coburn said Wings' hooves were overgrown when he was seized by law enforcement personnel last month.

A donkey named Itty Bitty nibbles on Debbie Coburn's fingers Wednesday at Four Corners Equine Rescue.

His arrival at Four Corners Equine Rescue is just the first step in a long road to getting Wings a permanent home. The organization is in the process of assessing and evaluating Wings' needs. Coburn said training him will be similar to training a wild horse.

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While wild horses are harder to train, Coburn has had success in caring for and rehoming them. One of the horses in the barn at the operation will spook if people walk too fast.

"You have to gain their confidence, win their trust," Coburn said.

Wings stands in his pen Wednesday at Four Corners Equine Rescue. The 6-year-old gelding was seized from a hoarding situation last month.

Pomona, a palomino mare who was part of a herd near Cuba, was considered a dangerous horse when she entered the organization in 2013. Now Pomona enjoys being around people and approaches the fence whenever people walk by.

"Don't be in a hurry," Coburn said. "Good results take time."

For more information or to donate to Four Corners Equine Rescue, go to

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.