Health educator and horse enthusiast, Alejandra Aviña, stands in the middle of the corral at Hacienda Esperanza with her horse, Güero.

Alejandra Aviña

The Horse Whisperer

Alejandra Aviña leaves her home each morning, wearing cowboy boots and jeans only to walk a few dozen feet away to the corral, where three horses and a pony —Güero, Capricho, Loba and Gallito— are eager to be fed and groomed by her. Alejandra lives with her family in a rancho built in the tradition of Zacatecas, Mexico, from where her father came decades ago. Wanting to recreate a piece of home, he found just the right place to do it in Avocado Heights, and Alejandra grew up surrounded by animals and fruit trees, less than 20 miles from downtown LA. She’s been taking care of horses since she was a kid, and it didn’t take her long to realize, intuitively, that spending time with them allowed her to better get to know herself. “I really fell in love with the power of the horses and the empowerment that they provide in healing and learning,” she says. After graduating college, she had the idea of opening up the corral to clients, mostly children and young people from the area dealing with behavioral issues. Her father agreed, and she gave the rancho a new name: Hacienda Esperanza. It is now emblazoned above the gate to their lush property, nestled at the end of an unmarked road in Avocado Heights. “I want this place to become a healing place where you can learn and grow as a person —with the help of horses,” she says.