Category Archives: Bridgit

Bridgit finds a home!

All the horses that pass through the gates of Safe Harbor are special and placing them into wonderful new homes is the best part of our work. SAFE is happy to announce that Bridgit’s new family has been found and she is adopted! Bridgit’s sweet and gentle disposition was exactly what Kristina and her family needed. The family was looking for what we call a “unicorn,”  one that is good for the whole family to be around and ride. It is very hard to find a rescue horse that can meet the needs of 3 generations of riders: grandma, daughter and granddaughter but Bridgit is just that exceptional! Everyone she meets is an instant friend and she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. With her soft big doe eyes and youthful energy radiating innocence and joy, this mare is very unique.

Kristina has been out on the trails enjoying Bridgit and she is doing great going out alone or with her new companion Oreo. The little pony gelding and Bridgit are great compadres. The reports and photos of Bridgit we’ve received during her trial period have been delightful. This extra special mare has found an exceptional family to love her and take care of her for the rest of her life!

Another Perspective on Bridgit

Here is a letter from Ian about his time getting to know Bridgit and working with her in the Joel Conner clinic. Ian is a wonderful horseman and a absolute joy to have volunteering at SAFE. I am very happy that he enjoys working with this very sweet mare!

Hi Terry,
I really want to thank you for getting the two of us to be ‘friends.’ Every session with her is a great experience, and the clinic was no exception. I had some initial nervousness – this was my first (ever!) clinic participation, and I had only a quick chance to “rehearse” some groundwork with Bridgit on the Thursday prior. Like many of the horses, she knew something exciting was going on, and had a good bit of energy in her stall when I groomed her. However, it occurred to me that she’s done more of these than I have, and I could learn a lot from her about it.
 
Leading her to the arena she shied away from the new floral planters at the entrance, which she had also done during the Thursday session when they were newly placed. Thursday, it was a full on spook – the only time she’s ever done that with me. At the clinic it was just a wary look, and a little more energy than was necessary coming through the arena entrance. I knew she needed me to take charge before she would calm down. I took her to into the arena to a space where we could work for a bit. After warming up with yielding the forequarters, backing, and circling at a walk first, then the trot, she was willing to settle into a lazy walk with some lip smacking. At that time, I stretched her by flexing to the halter, and then practiced some desensitizing with the rope. This got the first yawn out of her, and we were ready to get started.
 
Joel began the clinic by circling some more, which Bridgit now had a good groove for. She can still pull to the outside if her inquisitive mind passes anything interesting, but she evened her circle and loosened up her back, starting her trot with a head low to the ground and her back rounding and getting longer. I could see the mounted work she’s done with Lindsay lately has had a great impact on her natural sense of collection, and I was happy to see her relax further. The “back up then yield the fore end” exercise showed us both where to improve. Bridgit remembers that yielding the shoulder is different from going forward or back, and within the 20 odd minutes of practicing, both shoulders were soft enough to yield with no more commotion than simply raising my hand near her eye. I got to remember the importance of good body position when asking for a front quarters yield.
 
During the leading along the wall exercise, Joel noticed me being heavier than necessary to cue our backups, driving from the front with the lead rope. When he lead Bridgit, he used so much less energy cuing and much more of an energy of anticipation or gusto. Bridgit liked it a lot. She yawned after that moment, and after Joel got me to “lighten up,” she moved with me so much more willingly. Not only that, but she relaxed even further and yawned several times during the final practice of that exercise. At the end, we all gathered our horses around to listen to Joel’s wrap-up, and Bridgit yawned THE WHOLE TIME. Every time I looked at her, she was yawning. She had clearly let got of a lot of tension during the clinic, she even moved like a different horse. Also, I’ll be using the backup/front quarters exercise with all other horses.
 
Bridgit is so incredibly smart, she picks up on everything so quickly. This does mean that she spends a bit of time challenging me in the beginning of any session, looking for reassurance of leadership. Once I get her feet yielding and moving she can be so sweet and placid that little will phase her. All the same, she meets everything I do with so much try – I really think there’s no end to her potential. She is such a wonderful horse! The thing that gets me the most, is that she really enjoys her time with her humans and can be downright affectionate when she’s relaxed like that.
 
Let me know if you have any questions. She really is a joy to work with!
 
Ian LeFae

Bridgit: Riding update Joel Conner Clinic

This little mare is looking GOOD!! Our volunteer riders have been working on getting Bridgit strengthened up and she is looking sound and soft. We really have to commend their dedication to the work. Sometimes it isn’t a very glamorous process… lots of boring trot poles and strengthening exercises. Butthey have chipped away at it and the work is paying off. Every time Joel sees this little mare, he remarks at how pretty and well behaved she is for the volunteers. She is ready to have her own family and become someone’s riding partner. She has already been a star on the trails at our new home in Redmond. She and her rider have even been allowed to walk out on the path alone (where we can see her from our property!) and she did great! No problem walking away from the other horses or coming back in a panic. Just a perfect little sweetheart as always! This is her time, let’s get Bridgit adopted!!

Here is an update from Melinda who is riding Bridgit three times a week and took her into the Joel Conner clinic a few weeks ago:

I rode Bridgit for the first time in the Saturday afternoon session of this weekend’s Joel Conner clinic. What a fun little mare she is! I truly can’t believe she hasn’t been adopted yet. She is such a sweet horse, and she has a lot of try in her. She’s been ridden consistently lately and has also been in previous clinics, so I knew going into it that she would already have a good grasp on the basics. She was initially a little “sticky” when moving her hindquarters to the left and also needed a brief refresher on the soft feel in the beginning of the clinic, but by the end of the afternoon she was putting it all together well.

I’m really excited about Bridgit‘s future. She has blossomed into a beautiful young lady in the time that I’ve known her here at SAFE, and I’m excited to get to be a part of that growth. She’s going to make a really great partner for her adopter.

Training Update: Bridgit

Here is what volunteer rider Erika had to say about working with Bridgit this week:

“Bridgit: She was in the top turnout area above the arena while I worked Cam. And was pretending to be a bucking bronco almost the whole time. I thought it would be a “fun” or “exciting” ride, and it was. But only because Bridgit was a ROCK STAR!! Seriously. We worked exclusively in the round pen today, with no trot poles. Rode her in the K&S instead of the black synthetic. Going one direction, we went from Walk-Trot-Lope-Trot-Walk-Halt-Reverse with NO REINS. Yep, you read that correctly. We tried the other direction and we got all the way up and down, but didn’t quite get to a halt. I *THINK* we were going right when we went through everything, and then left was when we didn’t get to halt. At any rate, this may have been the best ride we’ve ever had, and I told her she was SUCH a good girl! Super proud of how far she’s come!”

Great work Erika and Bridgit!!

Joel Conner Clinic Report: Rosie & Bridgit

SAFE’s volunteer riders and their horses spent last weekend working with Joel Conner. Tess worked with Rosie, our new intake, in the morning groundwork sessions and with Bridgit in the afternoon riding workshop. Tess writes about the clinic and shows a ton of good insight to these two horses and her experience with them. Thank you Tess for your volunteer work with SAFE and for sharing how special these horses are! You’re putting great work into helping find them homes! Here is what Tess has to say about her sessions with Rosie & Bridgit:

Rosie:

Rosie, Tess and Joel
Rosie, Tess and Joel

When I was paired up with Rosie for groundwork I was very excited to get to work with one of the newer horses. I thought Rosie would be a total breeze to work with, but I was proved wrong within the first 20 minutes of the first session. After 22 years of bad training and being allowed to walk all over her handler she needs lots of retraining. Her tendency was to try to crowd me and brace against me. When trying to bend her head head around she would create a brace and try to back up. After going around in circles backwards for a while she finally got it and was then very soft whenever I asked her to bend. It was to same story with backing. By the second day I really felt a change in her. She wasn’t crowding me as much and was much softer when I asked her to bend or back up. She’s very willing to learn and almost enjoys it when someone tells her to stop doing something and make a better choice. She had a hard time standing still initially (would start weaving and tossing her head or head butting me), but whenever I bumped her to say “stop that, keep your focus on me,” she would immediately start licking and chewing and even occasionally yawning. I’m very excited to see Rosie continue to learn and grow into the amazing horse she has the potential to be!

Bridget:

Bridgit and Tess
Bridgit and Tess

Bridget was a total rock star for the clinic! I have been working with her for a few months now and and was very excited to be able to ride her in the clinic. She’s done several other clinics with Joel so she’s a total pro at these, but this was my first clinic with Joel and my first clinic ever! I was a little worried about her being able to do everything due to her stifle weakness which we have been working to strengthen, but she didn’t have a single issue. I think I probably learned and grew more than she did. Bridget is such a great horse to learn on. She’s very forgiving and can take a joke. She’s also the kind of horse where you have to ask her to do something properly in order for her to do it properly, but even when I didn’t ask something properly she would still try to figure out what I was asking and wouldn’t get upset or frustrated. The only time I ran into any trouble was on the second day when she was obviously tired (I was tired too) and was somewhat reluctant to move off my leg. After she got it once though I didn’t have any trouble again. By the end of the clinic I felt that we had both really grown as a pair. She was even softer than she was at the beginning of the clinic, and she was already very soft, and she was much more prompt to respond to my aids. I’m so excited for her to become stronger and stronger so we can continue to grow! She is such a joy to work with and be around. She is constantly making me laugh, I have never met a horse with such a sweet and fun personality.

More photos from the clinic:

Bridgit & Gracie Get Massages

Brigit and Gracie were treated last week to massages from Lara Lutz of Island Equine Massage. Lara is a long time SAFE supporter, adopted mom to Amber & Louie, and a member of SAFE’s Board of Directors. She is also now a licensed equine massage practitioner. Lara has offered to come help give some much needed TLC and bodywork to a few of our horses. Here are a few things she had to say about meeting Bridgit and Gracie:

Bridgit – This was my first interaction with Bridgit. She is a personable girl and will play with the zipper on your coat pocket and nicker to you for treats. I really enjoyed working on her – she especially loved when I worked on her hind end, and it was rewarding to watch her lower her head and sway her body in relaxation. 

Gracie – Today was my first time working with Gracie. She has a kind eye and is a sweet mare. Much of our session focused on helping her poll and neck areas. The copious amounts of yawning and licking and chewing showed just how much she enjoyed and benefited from our time together. 

Health Update: Bridgit

We are currently working to strengthen Bridgit’s hindquarters. We had Dr. McCracken come out and evaluate her and help us understand why she has such a sway in her trot from her hind legs. It is a little of “the needle in the haystack” for an answer so at the moment to help we are going to do a few things to make her stronger and rule out weakness as part of the problem.

To start we are walking her over poles and up and down low incline hills. Then as we progress we will add trot and trotting polls. As we can, we’ll begin to add slightly steeper hills and possible take her on walks up the hills here on the Hollywood Hills trails. This is a gradual increase of work and we will be working up to the full load over the next two months.

So far Bridgit has been doing well for her rehab work out and learning to pick up her hooves over the poles. She remains a very sweet mare and enjoys her time with the volunteers. Her future as a riding horse remains uncertain but we hope to have some answers from the work we are doing with her now.

Wrap up from Joel Conner Clinic Dec. 12-13, 2015

Great group of Volunteer Riders!
Great group of Volunteer Riders!

We had a great time hosting Joel again at Safe Harbor. The horses and volunteers had an amazing weekend and everyone progressed in their feel and training. Here are a few accounts from the volunteer participants about what they learned about the horses they were working with during the clinic:

Jolene D:Khianna– At the time of the clinic Khianna had a total of 4 or 5 rides on her since her return from foster. She was nervous, but did so well! She tries so hard. She is coming along nicely and I believe will develop into an incredible partner for someone.

Sara E: Jewel – Jewel was an all-star for the clinic, Claire has done such a great job with her. She felt flawless going from hind-end to front-end turns. I learned so much while riding her during the clinic. She is going to make someone a really great horse.

Sara E: Khianna – Did ground work with Khianna and at the beginning she was a nervous trotting mess, but Joel came over and helped me get her front feet moving and she calmed right down. She is so loving and tries so hard. Once she figures out you aren’t going to eat her, she just wants to please you and be loved on, I don’t know if I have ever worked with a horse that tries to give you 150% all the time.

Lisa G: Ben– I can’t say enough about how the horsemanship that Joel has helped bring to SAFE amazes me. I had Ben in all 4 sessions, GW and riding, and I was honestly just hoping I could get him to stay focused on me with all of the excitement, maybe get some nice serpentines down in the riding portion, and work on soft feel and stopping/moving forward off of the seat. Well….. He did all of those things and SO MUCH MORE. Every exercise that Joel moved the participants through, beginning to advanced, Ben tried. And SUCCEEDED, at least on some level. I am so impressed with the effort this big guy puts into everything; as long as he understands that there are no consequences if he doesn’t understand, and he knows that I will wait for him to figure it out, I believe this horse would be willing to try anything under the sun. In the few days since the clinic, Ben had maintained a quiet, willing attitude, with TONS of deep, relaxed sighs, even during the riding work. SO proud of the progress he has made and so grateful that this work was brought to the SAFE horses.

Sara S: Khianna– I worked with Khianna for the first time doing GW on Saturday morning, and was so impressed by her “try”. She does get a little nervous about the rope and flag coming at her while moving (though not at all while standing still in the comfort of the “herd” (me)). I particularly enjoyed the backing exercises, and she was so in tune with my feet and body language it felt like we were dancing partners! She is such a sweet girl.

Sara S: Phoenix– I did GW and rode Phoenix on Saturday afternoon. He hadn’t been ridden in weeks, and it was raining on the tin roof, so he was extra “special” to start, but after just a bit of GW he calmed down and started paying attention to me. Riding, he was great. He’s getting very good at backing circles, front and hind yields (he’s so bendy!). Over the few months I’ve been working with Phoenix, I’ve noticed he tries very hard to anticipate what I want (if he’s in the mood), but as soon as I push too hard and/or he doesn’t understand what I’m asking, he shuts down. On Saturday, I didn’t feel him shut down at all which is probably a combination of both of us getting better at this!

And many thanks again to Joel and Terry for putting on such an inspiring clinic!!! I wish I could come out to SAFE every day, but I’m glad to be even a small part of this great community and cherish this opportunity!

Claire C: Mesquite– It was my first official time working with Mesquite, and I think we made some really good changes. He is super sensitive so it was interesting to experiment with him and see how much pressure he needed. I only did the groundwork session with him and it was fun learning to time up with his feet better.

Claire C: Phoenix– For the afternoon session, I rode Phoenix, who I have not done a whole lot with either. He was also good; we worked a lot on more forward motion and keeping him focused on what I was asking. We did lots of bending and yielding, which was so good for him. Overall, he did very well.

Casey A: Stella– I worked with Stella, who is turning out to be a great little horse. We worked on slowing down and developing balance on both the ground and under saddle. We were both so much lighter by the end of Sunday, and I know we got a big change in our partnership. She was so relaxed through the entire clinic, even when horses around her were nervous. She’s also pretty resilient and forgiving of my mistakes. She has taught me so much, and she is going to make someone really lucky!

Erika S: Maggie– I worked with Maggie for all 4 sessions, and she did fantastic! She’s such a smart, willing mare, and we connected early on. One idea that I heard this weekend was that eventually it will feel like your horse is reading your mind… Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s the truth! Maggie remained tuned in for everything we learned about, and worked in sync with me. It honestly helped me more than I think it helped her!

Ann A: Bridgit– Bridgit is a friendly girl and likes getting attention. She is a bit on the lazy side and I had some trouble getting the life up in her while doing circling exercises. She just wanted to come into the center and hang out with me. She made good progress under saddle in the afternoon sessions. She was learning how to pick up a soft feel at the walk by the end of the first day and we had some nice walk/trot transitions. She needs more work backing straight and in a circle both on the ground and under saddle. She also needs more work reaching with her front foot and disengaging her hindquarters under saddle. She felt much more balanced to me than she did when I rode her last summer.

Jane M: Oscar– As a relative novice to practicing Joel’s horsemanship skills, the greatest lesson I took away from GW and riding Oscar during this most recent Joel clinic is the impact GW has on riding. Yielding hindquarters, circling to achieve bend and balance, it all makes such a difference when aboard the horse. I’m able to apply lessons learned under Joel’s guidance to my regular riding lessons. It’s quite remarkable to me, and I look forward to Joel’s next visit and my next “aha” takeaway!