Looking back on our accomplishments for the year in the herd health department at SAFE was easy in 2018, because we were still riding on the coattails of the adrenaline rush that came along with foaling out and raising 3 fillies. 2018 was also our first year with a full-time herd health manager on staff, so there were some significant changes to report. At first glance, 2019 seemed a little more mundane and business-as-usual. But look a little more closely at the events of last year, and you’ll see some pretty exciting achievements.

Probably the most significant event of 2019 was the intake of SAFE horse Cyrus in April. Cyrus came to us at a body condition score of 1.5 out of 9. In years past, horses this skinny would have been admitted to one of the veterinary clinics that we work with, regardless of whether they were otherwise clinically stable. But having a licensed veterinary technician on staff, an experienced staff member available to  do round-the-clock feedings, a great relationship with our veterinarians who are with us each step of the way, and 24/7 camera monitoring via Wi-Fi in the barn now allows us to handle cases like Cyrus in-house. If Cyrus had needed immediate medical attention, we would not have hesitated to admit him to the hospital. But he was stable on arrival, and most of what he needed was just a very regimented feeding protocol and experienced guardians to bring him back to health. Cyrus’ physical rehabilitation went smoothly, and he is now in training under saddle.

The summer of 2019 brought another exciting event—a trip to Pullman. Teddi’s ringbone surgery marked our first experience taking a horse to Washington State University. Our community came together to help us raise funds to offer Teddi the chance to be healed of this painful condition in her left front leg. We were able to avoid putting Teddi under general anesthesia (something that is not only expensive but also carries significant risk with horses) by taking her to see the surgeons at WSU who do a pastern arthrodesis procedure with standing sedation. Teddi is still in rehab from the surgery and we were told that it could be many months before we know if she’ll be sound enough to ride. But creating new relationships with the WSU staff and also opening new doors for future SAFE horses was a great opportunity, regardless of whether Teddi ever becomes a riding horse.

We made some more connections with our community’s equine professionals in 2019. We now have a few more veterinarians that we partner with in different parts of the state for outreach cases, we have added a new farrier to our network because we now have a few horses permanently in metal shoes. We have also developed a close working relationship with iFEED to help us with some of our trickier nutrition cases. 

There’s something else that occurred in 2019 that we’re very excited about. Toward the end of the year, we decided to start microchipping all of our horses. This is something that we have been discussing for a while, as there are many benefits to microchipping animals. And we were finally able to make it a reality. Our mission is to provide horses with a lifetime of safety, and microchips help us do just that. If a SAFE horse ever ends up stolen, found astray, or at an auction yard, we will know about it along with the horse’s adopter. This is also a part of our emergency preparedness plan. A permanent means of identification gives peace of mind if we were to face a natural disaster and any of our horses got loose. We are still working on getting the entire herd chipped, but the goal is to have this completed as soon as possible.

Lastly, what would a 2019 wrap-up be if we didn’t mention our three lovely fillies that were such a large part of the year before? In 2019, we did three very successful and non-traumatic weanings. We’ve also adopted out two of the three dams–and the third mare has some very strong adoption prospects. Our “babies” are healthy and strong, and are blossoming into beautiful horses.

We have a lot to be thankful for with such a great community of supporters and a team of staff and volunteers that pour their hearts into making the world a better place for the horses in our care. Cheers to 2019, and here’s to a great 2020!