Category Archives: Zanadu

Unbridled Joy

zanadu_04_09_2014Sara, who is SAFE’s Vice President and Adoption Manager, keeps in touch with many of our adopters through Facebook, and a few days ago, she saw this lovely photo, posted by Karen who adopted Zanadu from us. When Sara asked Karen about it, she received this beautiful explanation:

“The name Unbridled Joy is actually the working title of a book I have been writing – I started about two years ago. The full title is UNBRIDLED JOY: A life of love, loss and horses. It’s a journal about joy, how I had it, lost it, found it, what gives me joy, horses and some wonky adventures in my life along the way.

The title came to me as I was trying to articulate in my mind how I would try to live my life again after losing my beautiful, brave daughter Heather when she was just one month shy of 36 years old in 2011. She lived her entire life in a wheelchair as a result of birth injuries and was never able to ride horses. I personally believe with all my heart that my angel girl Heather whispered in God’s ear that her Mom could reclaim that joy with a best horse friend. So Heather rides with me now.

It is fitting that the beautiful spot in Eagle Ridge where Zanadu and Raffy now share their forever home with us be called Unbridled Joy. Our neighbor, Bruce Aalmo, constructed the entry from my design with rocks we collected from our land.

Sara, always so grateful to you and SAFE for making me Zan’s forever Mom.”

This is all we want for any of our horses: the chance to bring someone unbridled joy. Thank you, Karen, for giving Zanadu that opportunity.

Don’t postpone happiness: we have many lovely horses waiting to share your life. Click here to see them all.

Catching up with Zanadu!

It’s always a happy day when we get an update on Zanadu. We like to think that all of the adopted SAFE horses are loved, but when it comes to Zan, there is no question that she is adored, treasured, and beloved. Karen sent this update:

Zan and I are doing spectactularly well! She is a delight and quite the character.

Zanadu is such a wonderful girl — I saw that in her from the moment we met. I believe there was divine intervention in us finding each other. She had had several unsuccessful adoptions before she became Zanadu Johnson, and Sara told me that she thinks Zan was just waiting for me. She is learning to trust and to let her sweet nature show through, and I tell her every day that she has found her forever home, and I will always love and care for her, and protect her. Oh, and the singing part – I sing to her every day (she’s partial to vintage Motown). She’s sassy and independent and curious – I call her Dora the Explorer. Come to think of it, those are my qualities too!

Attached are some recent photos – one taken in front of our home for a neighborhood ride, one of her at our very first trail ride (eleven miles and she did an amazing job, I was so proud of us both!), and a picture of her Christmas ‘stocking’ that I made. She was a good pony so Santa filled her stocking with carrots! On Christmas day, my precious ponies had warm oatmeal with raw sugar and apples.

I have to laugh because she and Raffy, my special needs Arabian boy, LOOOVE to roll in the mud. And always after brushing. I showed Zan the SAFE stall plaque that I keep in my tack room so she could see how beautiful and clean her little self can be.

Also, if you and Sara, Debi, Brittany, or any of my other friends at SAFE have 18 minutes [yes, really] to spare, here’s a link to the YouTube video I posted after the pre-Christmas snow. I’m sure you have never seen any other video of Ponies in the Snow ha ha.

While I will apologize for the lack of editing, and some shakey cam stuff, I refuse to apologize for all the cooing and laughing and kissy noises that I made for all those minutes. And oh, yeah, the ‘pocket cam video’ at about 14:00 for 90 seconds while I used both hands to feed the ponies apples – audio but no video!

Zanadu — Adopted!!

Zan and Karen
Zan and Karen

A very dear and special SAFE horse was just officially adopted, and we could not be happier about this match. Congratulations to Karen on your adoption of Zanadu!

Karen originally contacted SAFE in October of 2012. She was interested in Zan, but open to other horses. She wasn’t quite ready to adopt at the time, just starting to think about it. She and her husband had put an offer in a property, but the deal fell through. In January, she contacted us again. They had just purchased a property and she was still interested in Zan but had a barn and fencing to construct. Zan was on rest from her knee surgery in December. Fencing and barn were complete right about the time Zan was ready to start meeting potential adopters. Having shown Zan to dozens of potential adopters, we were cautiously optimistic. Karen, having been waiting to meet Zan for nearly 6 months, cried when she saw her “in person” for the first time.

Zan and Raffy
Zan and Raffy

Zan has made herself right at home in the beautiful barn and pasture Karen constructed just for her. And Karen sings to her every day! Zan also has a new best friend, an older gelding named Raffy.

Zan has priorities

Zan’s first priority in life is Lunch. She is very food focussed. Here is a shot from the hay loft of a typical Zan moment. She eats her lunch first, then she shakes the hay out of her mane for a second go-round. Oh, Zan.


A girl's gotta know what her priorities are!
A girl’s gotta know what her priorities are!

Zanadu is back to work!

Zan is back to work!Last week, Zan was officially cleared to return to work after recovery from her surgery.

So far, the prognosis is good. We are to bring her back into work slowly, and carefully, and watch for any signs of discomfort on the knee that had surgery. Assuming she stays sound, her only limitation is that she should not be jumped but she has been cleared for all flat work.

Yesterday, Zan had her first official work session… a few minutes of work in side reins, on the lunge, each direction. She was a bit snorty and gave some small leaps both directions, but settled in.

Today, she was steady in her short lunge lesson with a few minutes of cool-down under saddle.

Welcome home, Zan!!

Today, Zanadu completed her 30 days of post-op rehab care at Northwest Equine Stewardship Center. She returned to SAFE Harbor Stables this afternoon, where she was greeted with enthusiastic whinnying from all of her friends. Zan still has a long road to recovery but is making progress. She is now up to 30 minutes of handwalking per day, and today marks the first day since the surgery that she has small paddock privileges. I imagine she is very, very happy to be back at SAFE Harbor!

Zanadu’s surgery is a success!

We are very happy to share the news that Zanadu’s surgery, which took place yesterday at Pilchuck Vet Hospital, was a success. In fact, Dr. Bryant said that it went better than he had expected. The bone chip was very large, coming right off the corner cleanly. He was most pleased about the overall condition of the joint, he said it looked to be in great condition overall. He feels strongly that this will improve her athletic ability in the long term. Zan was released from Pilchuck this morning and was delivered to NWESC for her first month of rehab. She’s have about three months of rest while she heals, and then will start back into work to regain her strength. It’s our hope that she will be ready for adoption by early 2013. We are so grateful to everyone who helped make this happen for Zanadu — especially the Adams family who donated the money needed for this surgery — and for all of you who sent good thoughts her way!

Zanadu’s angels

Zan’s been a SAFE horse since June of 2010, and she’s come a long way from the unhandled and underfed filly she was when we first met her. Restarted under saddle by professional dressage trainer Andrea Lucianna, Zan became a superstar riding horse — willing, easy, hard working, and so pretty to look at. Since graduating from training, Zan has been ridden extensively by select SAFE volunteers. She’s competed at several schooling shows in both Dressage and English Pleasure. She’s even been to the ocean. Through it all, she’s proved herself to be level-headed, teachable, and fun to ride.

But adoption has eluded our dear Zan…she’s come close a few times, but that perfect home that she deserves so much has never quite appeared. Looking at Zan with our eyes instead of our hearts, we understand what the problem has been. Zan has a slightly enlarged knee from a past injury. She’s always been perfectly sound, but we caution potential adopters that this young horse may end up facing arthritis and need joint injections and maintenance sooner than most horses. Unfortunately, that uncertainty has been enough to scare off her potential adopters.

Recently we showed her x-rays to Dr Bryant at Pilchuck Vet Hospital and asked him for an evaluation. He told us that Zan had bone chips in her knee joint, and that she looked to be a good surgical candidate. The price quoted for the surgery was $2300–2800 — not a prohibitive amount of money, but certainly more than a horse rescue could justify paying for itself.

Enter the Adams family. Brenda and her daughter Krista were invited to SAFE Harbor Stables as part of our Directors Luncheon (tickets were auctioned off at the SAFE Horse Show). There they met Zan and heard her story…and immediately, they decided that they were going to help this horse. Yesterday, we got the joyful news…by combining a donation with matching funds from the Microsoft Workplace Giving Program, the Adams family — Mike, Brenda, and Krista — would be donating the entire amount needed to pay for Zan’s surgery!

So if you heard cheering coming from Woodinville yesterday afternoon, well, that was us, celebrating Zan’s good fortune and the Adams’ generosity! We’ll have more to share after we get Zan’s surgery scheduled and we know what is in store for her in terms of rehabilitation, but already we are looking forward to the day when we can announce that Zan is on her way to a wonderful new home and a wonderful new life, thanks to Mike, Brenda, and Krista Adams!!

Zan at the SAFE Show!

A big thank you to volunteer Lara B for riding Zan at the SAFE show. They made a lovely pair! Here’s Lara’s report on her weekend with Zan:

When we entered the dressage ring on Saturday, I’d only ridden Zan a handful of times. I found her to be an uncomplicated and confident mare, eager to work and game for almost anything. During her time at SAFE, she has had an extensive education, and she responds to subtle cues. She was a star in our Training-3 ride, scoring a 67% and a second place ribbon. Zanadu is definitely a mare (somewhat opinionated and not always cuddly), but she’ll give every request her all. She likes to think about each task at hand, which made her feel and act like a true partner. She was a pleasure to work with in every class, from dressage to trail, and by the end of the weekend, I was sold. Zan will make someone an excellent all-around horse, and I hope they come to claim her soon.

Here are some gorgeous photos of Zanadu and Lara at the SAFE Show! Thank you to Liz Stabbert Photography for these great shots!!

More photos of Zanadu at the SAFE show taken by Karen Wegehenkel can be viewed online here!

Zan update– June

Summer vacation is over, and Zan is back to work!

She will be spending a month at a large, busy, boarding facility. This is a great experience for her and I’m so glad she has this opportunity. This is a different environment than she’s ever experienced. The indoor is completely enclosed with stalls backing 3 sides. Sun spots appear. Doors open and close. The footing is deep and soft. The outdoor borders turn-out paddocks. It’s right on a major recreational highway so packs of motorcycles, bicycles, and all manner of traffic go buzzing by. At feeding time, an entire barn full of horses makes a ruckus. There are generally a number of people and other horses milling about. Most of our rides have included 3–4 other horses sharing the arena. All of this very different than her past experiences.

On our first ride in the indoor arena all was going well– she was relaxed and paying attention to me. We tried a bit of canter but the deep footing is something she hasn’t worked much in and she was having a hard time picking up the correct lead. I decided some decent trot work was enough for our first day out and decided to cool her out on a long rein. Right about that time, a little barking dog appeared out of no-where and startled her, resulting in a big spook. We gathered ourselves back to together and went back to work for a few minutes. Surprisingly, she didn’t make a fuss about going by the doors so we went back to cooling out and called it a day.

I rode her again the next day, and after some additional consideration she’d concluded that the doors were, in fact, quite scary. As were little dogs of all types. I didn’t make a fuss, we just went about our business and worked on the pieces that were good, pushing the envelope a bit, and acknowledging that this was all quite new to her yet. Zan is the kind of mare where if you give an inch, she’s got a mile before you know what happened. At the same time, if you make something a battle, she is definitely willing to go toe to toe with you. As with most things in life, it’s to everyone’s benefit if you can lead her to make the right decision on her own. We did some leg-yielding towards the doors, which helped. We trotted past them on the inside track, that also helped. I decided that was enough for the day and we left it. I didn’t attempt the canter this ride as I know she can canter and I’m a big believer that sometimes “slow is fast”.

Ride three we discovered something new to worry about. A cat came blazing out of the arena like his tail was on fire, just as we were about to enter. Zan jumped out of her skin in the aisleway but by the time we got into the arena, she was fine. After the barking dog and the bolting cat, she was a bit on edge about all small animals at this point– waiting for the next thing to appear out of no where. I ignored it and we went to work. We worked on the doors again, this time, much less of an issue. We did a little bit of canter in each direction, but in general kept it short and sweet. Focus was on standing quietly at the mounting block, rhythm and relaxation at the trot and a little bit of canter under saddle. All of that accomplished, we called it a day.

On our fourth ride we encountered yet another new experience. The big doors at the end of the arena, which had always been closed previously, were now open, revealing a tractor. Zan wasn’t too worried about it. It was a busy Sunday morning at the barn, so we decided to move outside and try the outdoor on for size. I was warned that sometimes horses spook at the herds of bicycles that ride by (with their neon colors, clicking noises, flags, etc) and the packs of motorcycles that rev their engines as they accelerate onto the highway. But, if anything, Zan was more relaxed outside. We went back to work for a little bit– just to get the feeling of the outdoor and then called it a day.

That brings us up to date. Zan is doing quite well. She continues to progress and settle in as a riding horse. She’s less pushy on the ground these days, and less rushy under saddle. She takes her job seriously and is a level-headed little mare who is more than ready to go off and be someone’s partner.

P.S. I’ll try and get some recent pictures or video of her under saddle soon. She’s going so well, time for an update!