MORIARTY, N.M. (KRQE) – At the beginning of the year, Minnie Pearl wouldn’t come close to a human. Many at the New Mexico Horse Rescue at Walkin N Circles Ranch in the East Mountains referred to her as a “Category 5” horse, similar to a Category 5 hurricane.

“Minnie was there at the ranch for seven or eight years because she was unhandleable,” said Connie Bowin, a trainer at the ranch. “People had such a problem with her because she’s not real people friendly. She gets afraid, she’s skittish.”

Bowin came to the ranch in March. After just two months of working with Bowin, Minnie Pearl completely transformed. No longer bolting away from people, she learned to put on a halter, go through obstacles, go into and back out of a horse trailer and even allowed a few people to ride her. At the rescue’s May adopt-a-thon, she went home with a family.

“We started training,” said Bowin. “We took her to the adopt-a-thon and she got adopted.”

A few months went by and, unfortunately, Minnie Pearl was returned to the rescue in September. “She had a limp on her left side,” said Bowin. “The people turned her back in because they wanted to really ride her and she displayed the limp and they turned her back in.”

Bowin knew this wasn’t just a coincidence. Minnie Pearl was meant to come home with her.

“I said, ‘I don’t want her traded back and forth,’ so I adopted her,” said Bowin. “She’s a good horse. She’s a really good horse and she’s smart.”

She says it took a bit for Minnie Pearl to warm up to her again and reestablish the confidence and bond they once shared. She continues to train Minnie with a soft and stern hand, with little victories, like quickly getting the halter and lead rope on. Minnie Pearl, believed to be in her late teens, joins Bowin’s other horse, 17-year-old Classy.

“I’ve had her out on trail. I ride Classy, my quarter horse, and I pony her,” said Bowin. “We’ve done a lot of trail riding and she’s fabulous, although she gets a little tired because she hasn’t been worked. Just like a human, she has to build up her endurance.”

Call it destiny or fate. They’re a pair, it appears, that through all the odds, were always meant to end up together.

“It seems like it. When I told people about it, and I’ve got her picture here on my watch, two women got goosebumps,” said Bowin. “Cosmic that she was meant to be with me. We got together, she responded to me, slowly, and now she’s mine.”

Minnie Pearl is a Medicine Hat Paint, a rare type of horse, considered sacred in Native American culture. Bowin says she’s happy to give this special horse her real, forever home.

“It’s sacred to Native Americans because of her coloration. These kinds of paints helped protect them in battle, so she’s going to help protect me,” said Bowin. “I’ll keep her for the rest of her life, just like I will with my Classy, and she’s going to have a happy home.

Before moving to the East Mountains, Bowin worked as a physical therapist. She did equine-assisted psychotherapy with victims of trauma.