Category Archives: In Memory

Saying Goodbye to Rocky

Rocky-Terry-02-24-16-04It is with a heavy heart that we share that we said goodbye to Rocky last week. Since he was rescued in 2014, we’ve worked closely with our vet and farrier to manage his pain. Rocky had both chronic laminitis and Cushings Syndrome, and for the last two years, he’s received daily doses of Bute and Tramadol to cope with the pain and Prascend to keep his Cushings under control.

The change of season from summer to fall can be difficult for Cushings horses, and frozen ground in winter would cause him hoof pain, so we’ve known for a while that we would not ask Rocky to face another winter. Even in the warm weather, it was becoming difficult to keep him comfortable. Mornings were usually good but by afternoon, he’d often be limping. His quality of life was always being considered and discussed with our vets. It was extremely hard to let him go and a decision none of us take lightly.

Kellie & Peter Larson, Rocky’s foster family, has taken amazing care of him. It was at their farm that Rocky learned to trust again and even though he remained shy around new people, he trusted Kellie and knew she was there to help. Kellie watched over Rocky and made sure he was never in too much pain. She went above and beyond to give him a safe and happy place to live. Rocky came into SAFE a very sick, thin, frightened horse with horribly long painful hooves. His transformation was stunning to see and all the credit for this goes to Kellie and Peter, his veterinarians Dr. McCracken and Dr. Muller, and Jim Bergevin, his kind farrier. We are forever grateful for their help and guidance in managing his care.

Because of his Cushings, Rocky couldn’t really graze on fresh grass, so you can imagine how special it was that on his last day, he got to graze as much as he wanted. As he grazed, we all had a chance to say thank you…thank you for allowing us the opportunity to take care of you, thank you for letting us into your life and trusting us, and thank you for understanding that it was time to let you go. As we prepared to say goodbye, we all stood by loving him and telling him how special he was to us. He is now able to do what his 25-year-old body was unable to do for so long, run as fast he wants without pain and eat all the lovely grass he wants. We are comforted knowing that we were able to let him go on a good day, when he was comfortable and content. We love and miss you Rocky, until we meet again.

Run free, Shay

photo by Jessica Farren
photo by Jessica Farren

Strength and beauty. Two words that perfectly describe Shay. In the four years that we have known her, we’ve seen her battle back from neglect to become a vibrantly, beautiful mare. She’s lived a happy life in the company of her best friend Marta under the wonderful care of her foster family, Eileen and Andy Carrol. We could see that Shay had foundered at some point in her past because of the rotation in the coffin bone of both her front hooves.  Keeping her sound and comfortable meant that she had to be fed a low-carb diet and be kept from grazing on the lush green grass of her farm. Over the years she was seen regularly by our vets to ensure that she remained pain-free. The Carrols created a dry lot area where Shay could be turned out without her hated grazing muzzle, and they kept her stall deeply bedded so she could always have a soft spot to stand if she needed it. Our vets warned that a sudden bout of laminitis could quickly devolve into a life-threatening situation for Shay, so Eileen and Andy always kept a close eye on her, watching her carefully for any signs of pain or discomfort.

At the start of the year, Shay began struggling with soundness. Her comfort was maintained with medication for a while, but in time, even increasing her medication was not holding off the pain. Sadly it was time to let her go. At age 25, there was no reason for this lovely mare to suffer another moment’s discomfort. Better to say goodbye on a relatively good day than risk another bad day.

Shay’s passing yesterday was quiet and peaceful. Two close friends were there to see her off…Eileen, who comforted and loved her to the very end, and her pasture mate Marta who stood near her and said goodbye in the way only mares know how. Shay left this life believing that she had found her perfect forever home with people who thought the world of her.

Marta is being joined by a new SAFE horse, Aubrey, who will be arriving at Eileen’s farm today. We are very hopeful that the two will get along and become friends.

Rest in Peace: Craspedia (2007-2015)

Craspedia, aka Speedy, aka Crass, aka Crispy, aka Crap Daddy, aka our friend
Craspedia, aka Speedy, aka Crass, aka Crispy, aka Crap Daddy, aka our friend

It took just a moment to fall in love with him, but it will take a lifetime to forget him.

We met Craspedia in a field, a tall handsome fellow with a kind eye who stood calmly and quietly while we said hello to him. His owner had contacted us a few days before, concerned that his new horse was getting thin. It had been two months, he told us, and he did not understand why his horse was not gaining weight from the grass in his field. This was not much of a mystery to us. It was one of the driest summer on records, there was hardly grass available in any local field, and the horse was a thoroughbred just off the track.

We were particularly concerned because his owner was an individual that SAFE had already declined as an adopter. For various reasons, this individual was not prepared for horse ownership. We agreed to go take a look at the horse and see what we could do to help. At first, we thought were looking at a horse that we could easily rehabilitate and rehome. Then we walked to the other side of him, and saw his left hock.

It was enormous, tightly swollen and painful looking. We asked the owner what had happened, and he seemed surprised to see it. He told us that when the horse arrived from the track, he was turned out in the small field and had run around like a maniac. He had also broken through the fencing and gotten into a tussle with another horse at one point. Or maybe he had been like that when he arrived? The owner was not sure.

With heavy hearts, we returned to SAFE and started researching. While Terry contacted our veterinarian to discuss the horse’s physical symptoms, I began piecing together his history. His name was Craspedia, a well bred 8 year old gelding, born in Kentucky, who spent five years as a racehorse, compiling a record of 4-3-6 in 19 starts. His racing career took him from Vancouver BC, to Southern California, to Arizona, and finally to Emerald Downs, where he raced 6 times in 2015 as an 8 year old. His last race was on July 12, 2015 and he finished a respectable 3rd, bringing his career earnings to almost $33,000. The next day, July 13, he was sold to his current owner. The trailer he brought was too small for a 17 hand thoroughbred, so Craspedia’s race trainer hauled him to his new home.

As the day went on, we grew more and more concerned about Craspedia’s leg. He needed vet care. So we hitched up the trailer that same afternoon and went back to get him. His owner signed him over to us and we brought him to Safe Harbor to await a visit from Dr. Fleck of Rainland Farm Equine.

Dr. Fleck only had to glance at Craspedia’s hock to know how grim the situation was. Radiographs confirmed that the hock was fractured. Several bone chips were evident from a fracture to the lateral malleolus and there was damage to the lateral collateral ligament as well. There was no question of letting it heal up on its own; the horse needed surgery if he was to have any reasonable quality of life. But there was no guarantee that surgery would be successful. The x-rays told us it was a bad injury, but without scoping it, it was impossible to know the extent of the damage.

We had an agonizing decision to make. With a hefty amount of pain medication on board, Craspedia settled happily into his stall at Safe Harbor and proceeded to charm everyone who came near him. For a horse so fresh off the track, he was remarkably calm and kind. As his intelligent and soulful eyes gazed at you through his long, lovely forelock, it was impossible not to fall in love. He liked to be petted and talked to, he ate his timothy hay with appreciation, and he followed his stall cleaners around like a big puppy. It was very hard to see him in such awful condition but it was easy to picture the horse he should have been had things gone differently for him.

Thankfully, our decision on whether or not to do surgery was not limited by finances. Dr. Fleck quoted us a discounted price that was reasonable for a surgery and donors had come forward offering to cover the expense. The decision rested on whether surgery was going to be the right choice for him.

We knew the best outcome we could expect would be some form of pasture soundness. He was a relatively young horse with many years in front of him. Portland, another former racehorse, had recently been responsibly euthanized by his owner following years of discomfort from arthritis and we were reluctant to risk putting a horse through years of pain out of a desire to save him.

Each year, SAFE intakes a number of horses suffering from neglect, some of which are quickly humanely euthanized to prevent any further suffering. While these decisions are never pleasant, making the decision is usually straightforward. We had collectively decided that the responsible choice was to let Craspedia go and had scheduled an appointment to euthanize him, but we struggled with the decision. Dr. Fleck, seeing how we were struggling, offered to take Craspedia into surgery and assess the joint at a minimal cost. If the hock seemed salvageable he would proceed with the surgery. If not, we would have our answer. SAFE has always been blessed with the support of amazing horse professionals but this act of kindness and compassion is something we will never forget.

Yesterday morning, Craspedia went into surgery. We waited anxiously all morning for news, hoping that it would be good. In the end, the hock was too badly injured. The damage to the lateral collateral ligament was extensive, the cartilage of joint capsule was thickened and damaged, and the fracture was more severe than the x-rays could show. Even with the bone chips removed, Craspedia would be in pain, and that pain would only increase as time went on. Had the injury been treated when it occurred, he might have been savable, but it was simply too late. Dr. Fleck grimly advised us not to proceed with surgery. We had our answer.

Craspedia is free from pain. We can take some comfort in knowing that we did everything we possibly could to save him. He will be missed terribly.

There is a lot to be learned from what happened here. This is a textbook case of what can go wrong when a retired racehorse is not properly transitioned to its new life away from the track. Craspedia was taken straight off the racetrack, sold to an individual with no experience or knowledge about Thoroughbreds, and thrown into a field full of hazards. We can only speculate about the cause of his injury, but it is likely that it happened because he was allowed to run out of control in a small field. This is a horse who spent the majority of his life having his day-to-day routine and movement controlled by humans, whether on the ground or on his back. Eventually he would be able to safely enjoy his freedom, but the day after his last race was too soon for him to be left on his own.

There are many skilled riders and trainers who understand how to transition a racehorse to another sport and how to keep good weight on them, and who can recognize a serious injury if it occurs and get it taken care of in a timely manner. Many people looking for an inexpensive horse do not have these skills and they need to take the risks that come with restarting a racehorse very seriously. In this case, the owner’s refusal to take the responsibilities of horse ownership seriously lead to the early death of an otherwise lovely horse. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Many racehorses end up in inappropriate homes when buyers are unrealistic about their own skillset.

Craspedia’s story caused a great deal of distress and heartache, both at SAFE and following conversations with individuals at the track. The big question that came out of those discussions was “How do we prevent horses going to buyers like this?” SAFE had been able to screen this prospective adopter out through our application process. While our application is long, it does a fairly good job of sorting through people who are prepared to be horse owners and unprepared individuals looking for a cheap horse.

As a result of these conversations, SAFE was given the opportunity to try to reduce the risk of selling a racehorse to an inappropriate buyer. We submitted a streamlined sample application with questions that a potential buyer could be asked, in hopes that this will help separate unsuitable owners from those who can give a thoroughbred what it needs to be successful off the track. That application was printed in the catalog for last weekend’s Thoroughbred Showcase at Emerald Downs and we sincerely hope that can be a useful tool for trainers in the future.

Craspedia, you deserved so much better than what happened to you. Still we are better for having known you and better for having had the chance to show you how deeply we cared. You will be missed. You will not be forgotten.

Rest in Peace, Rose City Special (1997-2015)

Beauty in the "After" Shot
Beauty in the “After” Shot

We never truly know how much time we’ll have with the ones we love. We give our hearts to our animals, knowing that chances are good that we’ll end up outliving them and having to face saying goodbye. It’s a risk that most animal lovers are willing to take, grief being the price we pay for love.

Most horses that come to SAFE have faced the worst and still survived. Thankfully a lot of them are able to bounce back from the physical effects of abuse and neglect, and go on to live long, healthy lives. Others carry the scars of their neglect, and rely on the size of their hearts to pull them through.

Portland was one of those horses. By the time help came for him, he had already suffered years of neglect and hard living. He was the only horse seized from the infamous Lowell-Larimer Rd neglect case. Proper care put the weight back on his frame and the light back into his eyes, but when he was evaluated by our veterinarian as a possible riding horse, we learned the extent to which this Thoroughbred had been broken by life. His knees and hocks were ravaged with arthritis and nearly all the joints in his lower legs showed severely reduced range of motion. His sacroiliac showed clear signs of injury including a possible fracture to one wing. His legs and body were an unreadable roadmap of scars. Riding was out of the question for this campaigner. 38 starts on the track coupled with years of neglect meant retirement for Portland at the relatively young age of 17.

Portland was adopted about a year ago by someone who wasn’t so concerned about what a horse could do for her, but what she could do for a horse. Amy had already adopted a companion horse from SAFE named Goliath, and when she contacted us to find out more about Portland, we already knew the kind of home she could offer a pasture ornament. But we had to be very honest with Amy about Portland’s physical condition. Presently, he was sound and comfortable, but realistically we knew that his battle-scarred body would fail him in time. He would require an adopter willing to watch him carefully for signs of discomfort, and be brave enough to face saying goodbye if and when he started to fail. Amy was willing to accept that challenge and readily opened her heart and home to him.

We got word yesterday from Amy that Portland was humanely euthanized over the weekend. She told us that his legs could finally no longer carry him, and he was falling down. Her vet confirmed that his arthritis had advanced to the point where it was becoming debilitating, and that Portland was hurting. He was laid to rest in a sunny spot on Amy’s property where he loved to spend time with his two friends, GiGi and Magnum. Portland will be missed terribly, but it is a comfort knowing that he is running free of pain, thanks to Amy who loved him too much to draw out or delay making a choice that was painful for her. We are so grateful that Portland spent his final year living in paradise and knowing he was loved.

Rest in Peace, Rose City Special (1997-2015)

Read more about Portland’s life as a SAFE horse. Click here.

A hard day to say goodbye

There’s no real way to properly express what happens when we lose a horse. Today, we said a too-early goodbye to Sapphire due to a colic.

Sapphire was discovered down in her stall this morning by her foster caretakers in deep distress. Dr Holohan from Pilchuck was called out, and Sapphire was tubed and medicated in an attempt to relieve her discomfort. Unfortunately her condition continued to worsen, and early this afternoon she was transported to Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital. She was down in the trailer when she arrived. Everything possible short of surgery was tried to give her a chance but her condition was declining very rapidly, and she was suffering. The decision was made to end that suffering and let her go. Sapphire was humanely euthanized at 3pm this afternoon.

Terry Phelps, SAFE’s trainer and Operations Director, came home to a power outage and wrote the following words about Sapphire’s passing:

It never gets easier when making the decision euthanize a horse. It plain sucks and is without a doubt is one of the most difficult things we have to do as stewards for the animals in our care. Today was one of those hard days.

sapphire_08_29_2015_cropWhat happened isn’t a bad thing or even a bad day. A bad thing would have been Sapphire never getting rescued. A bad thing would have been her spending the rest of her life tied to a tree, unloved, uncared for and simply forgotten. A bad thing would have been SAFE never stepping in, pulling her from the hell in which she had been living for years and giving her the chance for a new life.

Today was a hard day. It was a hard day to say goodbye to a beautiful girl who against all odds had survived the inferno. It was hard holding my friend who had trusted enough in me to protect her, to help her accept humans back into her life, and today having to let her go. It was hard to watch the volunteer who had a special bond with Sapphire spend an entire day loving and supporting her, providing all the healing energy and strength she could, and in the end having to say goodbye. It was hard to watch a kind trainer who took Sapphire into her home, gave her friendship and taught her it was ok to let someone ride her as she made an amazing transformation, and today stand beside her in the final moments. It was hard to watch the woman who was on the rescue team that pulled her from the wreckage and took on chance on this mare to come stand by her side once again as she let go of a body that could not take any more pain.

Rescuing horses is not for the faint of heart. It takes tremendous amounts of courage by the people and the horses involved. All of the SAFE horses have incredible transformations, but I consider Sapphire’s remarkable.

Today was a good day. Sapphire was surrounded by those who loved her dearly – not alone or forgotten. She is at peace now, having known real love and kindness, and she will never suffer again. Sapphire’s ability to trust and let us into her life was a gift. Setting her free from pain was the last gift we could have given back to her. The day I met Sapphire I made her a heartfelt promise to never hurt her, always protect her and provide a safe environment for her to live. I was blessed to have earned her friendship, her love and her sweet nickers. Today, saying goodbye, I kept my promise and we were there for her until the end. We love you, sweet grey mare. We will carry you forever in our hearts. Thank you for your friendship and your trust.

Saving Summer

Summer -- photo by Karen Wegehenkel
Summer — photo by Karen Wegehenkel

We said goodbye to a dear old friend this week. Surrounded by adoring friends, at the farm she’s called home for the past few years, Summer was humanely euthanized. Summer’s health had been slowly failing over the past six months or so, and she was starting to have a great deal of difficulty getting to her feet and walking steadily. Our vet gave her a thorough examination and determined that the neurological symptoms of unsteadiness in her hind end were likely being worsened by severe arthritis in her neck. Once this became clear, those closest to her, including her wonderful foster family, agreed that it was better to let her go than to risk having her fall or suffer in any way. As always, it was a difficult decision but when the time came, Summer made it clear to all of us that she was ready to go. Her passing was peaceful and dignified.

As sad as it is to say goodbye, it’s given us the chance to celebrate Summer’s life and recognize what an amazing mare she was. Summer came to us from a horrific situation of neglect and starvation; at age 19 she was the oldest of the horses to come out of that situation alive. She came to us rail thin, riddled with parasites, and with about half her coat missing due to lice and rain rot. Her lice infestation drove her nuts, and she absolutely loved to be scratched and rubbed to relieve the itching. Grooming put Summer right into a trance, so much so that you had to be careful she didn’t fall down out of sheer ecstasy and relief.

With proper care, Summer blossomed into a chestnut beauty with a shining coat and long, elegant neck. She would struggle with keeping weight on for the rest of her life, and her severe sway back sometimes looked alarming, but she was healthy and happy with a true appreciation for life. Once she was fully recovered from starvation, we found out she was well broke to ride. Not only did she compete and win ribbons at the SAFE Horse Show, she could also tote little kids around for fun when we asked her to. She had many significant equine friends both at SAFE and at her foster homes over the years, forming some very strong attachments to both the mares and geldings in her life.

As a companion horse, Summer spent most of her time in foster care, and she made lasting impressions everywhere she went. Her foster mom Brenda K sent us donations to buy treats for Summer, years after she’d moved on from her care. Summer became the companion to an older gelding named Mac in her second foster home, and she and Mac were inseparable. Mac always watched out for his friend Summer, and she seemed to feel very safe when they were together. The night that Mac passed away, Summer stayed by his side and stood watch over him all night to make certain he was not disturbed.

SAFE horse Buckwheat became Summer’s companion at her foster home after Mac passed away, and the two of them remained together for several years after. Bucky was a little guy and he seemed a little worried that Summer might take a bite out of him when she tried to engage him in grooming or rub up against him. Nevertheless the two were great friends, with Summer taking the dominant role over her older male companion, as a great lady often does.

Summer and Lucky
Summer and Lucky

Summer spent her final years at Jackson Valley Ranch where she was adored by legions of little kids learning beginning horsemanship and riding. There she had another great friend, a rescued gelding named Lucky that the folks at JVR called “her husband.” Lucky was given the chance to say goodbye to Summer after she passed, and he nickered sweetly to her, which left everyone in tears. Summer’s ashes will be spread at Jackson Valley Ranch so that she will always be part of their lives.

There are so many people we want to thank for making the last six years of her life so wonderful. The volunteers of SAFE who nursed her back to health and gave her a second chance at life. Brenda K (and Miss Figgy!), who cared for her at her first foster home and never forgot her. To the amazing Carol and Steve A, who fostered Summer and Bucky for two years at their expense, and who remained vital parts of both their lives to the very end. Carol and Steve took care of the cost of having Summer cremated after she passed, in order to give her the dignity and respect they felt she deserved. Her current foster family at Jackson Valley Ranch opted to contribute to Summer’s cremation in order to have her ashes returned to their farm. The care that Lisa and her family provided for Summer over the past two years was incredible, and I think she felt she had found her forever home with people who truly loved her.

Summer touched so many hearts during her time as a SAFE horse, and she was probably the toughest, strongest survivor we have ever had the pleasure to know. We will never forget you, Summer. Rest in peace!

Thank you to Carol and Steve A who donated $500 in memory of Summer and Bucky during GiveBIG yesterday.

We named her Grace

Many of our supporters have asked for more detail about what happened to Ruby’s foal. If you missed the beginning of the story, you can read it here.

Another busy Saturday night at NWESC had Dr. Hannah Mueller caring for her patients. She passed Ruby’s stall to see the mare standing quietly. When she passed by again after midnight, Ruby was laying down and the foal’s head had emerged. It was quite a surprise!

Grace, Rest in Peace
Grace, Rest in Peace

Ruby was too weak to effectively push the foal out, so Dr. Hannah had to help deliver her. When the foal arrived, she was barely breathing. Supplemental oxygen was given and the foal’s breathing stabilized. The foal’s initial attempts to stand were vigorous, but unsuccessful. Unfortunately, even if she had been successful there was no colostrum in Ruby’s udder. But still, she tried. Eventually, she tired and needed to rest.

Temperature regulation was a challenge for the baby. She was shivering and her lower legs were ice cold. Two heat lamps were added, along with multiple layers of blankets and sleeping bags. Dr. Mueller even crawled under the covers with her to share her own body heat. Snuggled up together, they passed a couple of hours until morning, when Pilchuck Equine Veterinary opened and some plasma could be obtained. Cedarbrook Veterinary Staff were called in on their day off, and gladly joined in the efforts to save the filly.

She was still making occasional attempts to stand, and had passed both urine and manure. It seemed that we had a viable foal. After it became clear that Ruby was showing no interest in the foal and keeping them together was not going to result in stimulating milk production, the decision was made to move the foal to a heated treatment room to help with her temperature regulation. She was still shivering uncontrollably. After an hour or so, the warm room seemed to help. All of her vital signs remained steady and normal. An IV catheter was placed in her neck for the administration of the plasma (when a foal is not able to receive colostrum from its mother, plasma is the lifesaving alternative.)

Since Ruby had no milk, small amounts of milk replacer were tube fed to the baby. Throughout the day, phone calls were made to Dr. Bryant at Pilchuck Equine, and we are thankful for his willingness to provide consultation with Dr. Hannah. He made sure we knew what to expect, what to watch for, and what to do next. During the plasma infusion, we worked to keep the foal relatively still so the IV catheter would stay in place. She could really flail those front legs and nearly took three people out with one vigorous swipe!

We started searching for a potential Nurse Mare, and were touched by the response from the equine community. Several options were available if the foal thrived. The plasma infusion was completed without incident, and we helped the foal to her feet. She would stand for small amounts of time, but only with a great deal of support from the people holding her up. As the hours ticked by, it seemed that she was not gaining strength or the ability to stand on her own. The milk replacer was not moving through her digestive system, and would occasionally dribble back out through her nostrils.

On our last attempt to move her to a sternal (chest) position, it became clear that she was no longer participating. She wasn’t holding the weight of her head, she wasn’t protesting with her long legs. She was done fighting. And we started thinking about letting her go. It was hard to talk about all the possible reasons why she wasn’t making progress. She may have a malformation of her heart or other organ, or digestive system. She may have been hypoxic during the delivery. She may simply have been born too early. Whatever the reason, we knew that she had fought hard, and we had fought hard, and it was time to let her go. There were many tears.

We can find some peace in knowing that she did not die alone in the dark and cold, with no one to care for her gently and whisper in her ear that she was beautiful and loved. After the foal passed, it seemed important to give her a name to acknowledge and celebrate her brief life. Something feminine; a name that represented her innocence and conveyed hope. She was, and always will be, a SAFE horse. We named her “Grace”.

Special thanks to Dr. Hannah Mueller, Dr. Jim Bryant, Jennifer M, Lisa D, Diane G, Emily B, Jennifer W, Terry P and Debi S for providing excellent care to Grace during her short life.

Sincere thanks to our generous supporters who have already contributed to Grace’s medical expenses. Additional donations are needed to cover expenses for Grace and her mom Ruby, who continues to receive inpatient care. Please help if you can. An update on Ruby’s condition will be posted in the near future.

Please click here to make a tax deductible donation to help us with Ruby’s ongoing medical expenses. And thank you for being part of SAFE!

Sasha, Rest in Peace

On Friday afternoon, surrounded by friends who were there to comfort and say goodbye, Sasha was humanely euthanized. It is never easy to make the decision to let a horse go, but it is especially difficult when that decision is being made because we fear for the safety of the horse and for the people around her. But having spent the past six months evaluating Sasha, consulting with trainers and veterinarians, and carefully observing her behavior, we came to the conclusion that humane euthanization was the right decision, for Sasha’s safety and for the safety of anyone handling her.

Sasha
Sasha

Sasha was originally rescued by SAFE in March 2008 as part of the same animal cruelty case that brought Sinatra, Phoenix, and Summer into our care. She was three years old at the time of her rescue. She was adopted in November of that year, and her adopter put her into training to start her under saddle. But after more than four good years together, Sasha’s adopter contacted us, saying that she sadly could no longer afford to keep Sasha and asked us to take her back. We encouraged her to responsibly rehome her horse, and Sasha was offered for sale. In January of 2013, while being ridden in an arena, Sasha reared up and fell over backwards. Her rider fortunately escaped without injury, but Sasha herself was badly hurt and had to be hospitalized for a week due to complications from her fall. At that time, we advised her adopter to seriously consider humane euthanization, because a horse that shows willingness to rear and flip can be an extreme danger to herself and to anyone around her. Sasha’s adopter felt that the accident was just a fluke that would not be repeated. She continued her attempt to rehome her. SAFE eventually agreed to take Sasha back when those efforts were unsuccessful.

We knew that there was a possibility that her tendency to rear and flip would persist and that her outcome could be euthanasia, but we opted to carefully give her the opportunity to learn new behaviors. Unfortunately, on the day we brought her home, Sasha had an accident in the trailer. After hauling quietly most of the way to SHS, there was a clear disturbance in the trailer and the trailer window was knocked open. Sasha emerged from the trailer with an ugly laceration on her poll and a wound on her withers. It was pretty clear from the damage to the inside of the trailer and the damage to her head that Sasha had gone up and over.

We invested in medical care to treat her injuries, and started carefully working on training…both on the ground and under saddle. The two separate trainers who rode and evaluated Sasha both came back with the same report…that they could feel that at any given time, Sasha was ready and willing to go “up”. Rearing and threatening to rear was a coping mechanism for her anytime she was unhappy. Even more troubling was when Sasha began rearing while being handled by volunteers, even just when being led from turnout to her stall. It was utterly unpredictable behavior with no clear triggers that anyone could identify. Unfortunately it gave us serious doubts that Sasha could even be just a companion horse, if she was showing us signs that she could not even be handled safely on the ground.

Several days ago, a third flipping incident occurred. Sasha was being worked on the ground, and was simply asked to back up a few steps. She refused, and was asked again. This time, she reared up and flipped herself over. Even though she fell onto the soft sand footing of the arena, she managed to slice her lip open, requiring stitches inside and out to close the wound. We were extremely lucky that none of the people on the ground were injured. We were extremely lucky that Sasha wasn’t more severely injured. And we had reached the point where we could no longer rely on luck to keep everyone safe.

Sasha has demonstrated on multiple occasions, under multiple situations, that she lacks a sense of self preservation and is willing to endanger herself and others. We do not believe that Sasha is adoptable to any situation, even as a companion horse, as she is not safe to handle on the ground. We believe it was the right decision to humanely euthanize her to prevent her from injuring herself—possibly catastrophically—and those who handle her.

Rest in peace, Sasha.

Click here for Sasha’s complete history with SAFE.

Logan, run free

As we told you back in June, after months of rehabilitation and care, Logan did not seem to be fully recovering from the neglect he suffered at the hands of his previous owner. We made the decision to move him out to a foster home where he could enjoy the summer in a large, lovely pasture and watch him carefully for any signs of further decline. It would be a blessing if he stayed comfortable and happy, but if he began to show any signs of discomfort, pain, or a deteriorating quality of life, we were prepared to let him go quickly and peacefully.

Logan
Logan

It was a good and peaceful summer for Logan, but a few days ago, we got a call from his foster mom saying that he had injured himself and was three-legged lame. Brittney went out and found that he had developed a painful-looking lump just about the fetlock on his left hind leg. She gave him something for the pain, and treated and wrapped the leg to support it, and gave him some pain reliever, and by the next morning, he was walking slightly better on it again. But that improvement was short lived as he became significantly off on his right front leg. It was clear that he was in pain and having trouble moving. Logan has been notably unstable in his hind end since we took him in last December, so we were very concerned that with this new injury, he could fall and hurt himself further. The decision was made that the time to let him go was now, before things got any worse for him.

Surrounded by those who loved and cared for him, Logan was given his fill of carrots, apples, and horse treats; he was petted and scratched in all the best places; and he was told over and over what a good boy he was and how much he was loved. It was a very grey dreary day, but when the vet asked, “Are you ready?” the sun slipped out from behind the clouds to shine on Logan’s face, one last time. His passing was peaceful and quiet.

We are so incredibly grateful to Logan’s foster mom, Jackie, who took him in at the start of the summer knowing full well that this sad day was coming. She has taken such loving care of this horse, and made the last chapter of his life into one of peace, safety, and serenity. It takes a very special person to offer their heart and home to a horse that doesn’t have much time left, but Jackie did so gladly. For that, we thank her, and hope that if she ever catches a glimpse of Logan’s spirit running through the trees, it will bring her a smile, knowing that she made a huge difference for a horse in need.

 

Charmeon, rest in peace.

Charmeon at the 2013 SAFE Show, by Monica Bretherton
Charmeon at the 2013 SAFE Show, by Monica Bretherton

Our hearts are aching this morning as we say goodbye to an amazing mare, taken from us far, far too soon. Last night, adopted SAFE horse Charmeon was lost to colic. She fought so hard, and every effort was made to help her pull through, but in the end, her beloved friend and owner Helga had to let her go. We are heartbroken for Helga and her daughter Anna-Lynn who loved Charmeon so much and who deserved many, many more years together.

It feels so unfair to lose Charmeon just when her life had reached such perfection. It hurts to have to tell you of her passing just five months after we happily announced her adoption. The picture of Anna-Lynn holding up her blue ribbon while proudly sitting atop her lovely white horse will still bring a smile, but there will be tears as well. We won’t forget the joy we felt seeing Charmeon and Helga together in the Dressage arena or hearing Helga’s students talk about their amazing rides on this horse, but we’ll have to settle for memories instead of dreams now.

But one dream we had for Charmeon did come true and it does bring us comfort: she did find her forever home, and she did know what it was to be loved completely and unconditionally. And for that we are so grateful to Helga…for recognizing the connection she shared with this horse, for honoring that connection, and for making an unbreakable commitment to her because of it. Helga and her family are feeling tremendous grief and pain at the loss of their horse, but only because they loved her so much.

Rest in peace, dearest Char. The world is a little smaller without you in it.