Stevie left for Ellensburg last week to begin training with Joel Conner. He was a good boy, jumped right into the trailer and was calm and not stressed even though he was traveling alone. He arrived and settled in well. I spoke to Joel about him and he said that he is doing well and he put the first ride on him today. We were also concerned about the transition to the colder climate but Joel remarked that Stevie is handling the cold very well. He also complemented SAFE again for all the prep work that was done to get him ready for riding. Casey did an amazing job with Stevie which will not only make Joel’s job easier but less stressful for Stevie. We can’t wait to see him going under saddle and getting Casey over to ride him as he transitions back to SAFE as a riding horse. Our plan is to have him with Joel for 30-60 days of professional training so he will be back either the end of February or the end of March.
Here are some photos from the day he left Safe Harbor with one of Stevie’s biggest fans, volunteer Caren M.:
We are so grateful for the help of our volunteer riders. Casey is one of a very special group of people who make SAFE a great community, working together to train and find adoptive homes for our horses. She has been studying and working up to five times a week out at the arenas with her string of SAFE horses. We love to see all the progress she is making with them and to hear of her successes with both Jewel and Stevie in this past Joel Conner clinic. Here is a bit from Casey about the experience with Stevie:
At the clinic in August, Stevie was very nervous. He had difficulty with the energy in the indoor and passing the auditors on the outside of the ring. He showed great progress at the clinic this weekend. Though he is clearly still troubled about changing eyes, particularly from right to left, he settled into the high-energy atmosphere much faster. He was also better about passing the auditors. Joel worked with him in the round pen and showed me some areas that I will need to continue working in order to prepare Stevie for his first ride. Stevie is a very sensitive guy, and it’s so great to see how this style of horsemanship is helping him find confidence and balance.
Here are some photos of Stevie at the clinic with Casey and Joel:
Today, after much preparation and groundwork Stevie was ready to be introduced to the saddle. He had just a few bucks feeling out the saddle but quickly settled to a nice comfortable and relaxed walk, trot and lope. Volunteer rider Casey A. has done great work preparing him for this day! The fact that saddling this young horse for the very first time was so easy and uneventful is a direct result of Casey’s patient and correct work. And, as always, we are so very grateful to trainer Joel Conner for helping our training team to develop the skills needed to provide these positive moments for our horses.
Stevie and Ben have a whale of a time together in turnout. Geldings love to pretend that they are fierce stallions battling it out on the wild plains. Well, Stevie does, anyway. From Ben’s expression, he might be wishing he was back with Oscar, who was a bit less rambunctious than Stevie is! Thanks to SAFE volunteer Caren M — who also sponsors Stevie with a monthly donation — for catching this action photo.
Stevie has been with us now for just 3 weeks and he is settling in to life at Safe Harbor. He is a VERY sweet boy who is sociable and wants to connect with people. Here are some beautiful photos Jessica Farren took of his body condition after 3 week re-feeding. We are not working him yet since he needs all the calories he can get to gain weight but he is getting a little turnout to move around lightly, grass time outside with Lacey and some groundwork with Terry. He is shy but learning that we are his friends. This work is very helpful for gaining his trust and helping him feel confident. He is a bit jumpy and unsure so the quiet patient horsemanship work is really helping him relax and find peace around new people. He is going to be a very nice horse!
We have taken them slowly through the re-feeding process, starting with just what they were getting for hay when they came to us and slowly increasing that to the full amount required. Horses need between 2-4% of their body weight in hay. Our flakes are about 5 pounds each so since Stevie needs to be around 900 pounds to be at full weight he requires 18-36 pounds of hay, Lacey requires 13-26 pounds per day. In our big 3 string bales of Eastern Washington Timothy hay, at 5 pounds a flake, Stevie will need 4-8 flakes a day and Lacey with 3-6 flakes. From what we estimated, Stevie and Lacey were sharing around 10 pounds of hay per day. It is clear why these two were not thriving and why they both were so thin. For the last 3 weeks we have been increasing their hay a small amount every other day and soaking it for 30 minutes rinsing off extra sugar as they adjust to getting more hay and preventing them from colic.
They were allowed to start a simple vitamin that covered the basic needs and contains the selenium that our Washington hay is lacking. They also were allowed access to the salt mineral block in their stalls right away and of course access to clean water 24 hours a day. Lacey was found many times chewing on her mineral block, a very good indicator that she was in need of them and had not been getting them before coming to SAFE. After working to the full amount of hay and slowly transferred them to dry un-soaked hay, we could begin adding a mash. This week they are begin to get a mash 2x a day to add more calories into their diets. Since they are so thin they simply can’t eat enough hay in one day to recover from their starvation. The mash helps them get more calories while they recover and this too is added slowly over the next few weeks. They will maintain on free choice hay and 2-3x per day mashes until they are up to weight. Then for some time after that as we slowly start them into work as to not slide backwards in their recent weight gain. They will ALWAYS need 2-4% their body weight in hay. Depending on the level of work a horse is in the 2% in the minimum needed to be at weight. This can fluctuate depending on how much grazing time they are able to get in summer month but is a good rule of thumb.
Please join us in welcoming the two newest faces at SAFE! Stevie and Lacey are two young mustangs who were born in the wild, then rounded up and sold at auction. They are now three and a half years old and while they haven’t had the easiest life so far, they have landed in a place where their future is bright.
Stevie and Lacey were born at the Wild Horse Sanctuary, which is located on 5,000 acres of meadow and forest land in Shingletown CA. The Wild Horse Sanctuary is home to nearly 300 wild horses and burros, most of whom were removed from public range lands in many parts of the western United States during government round ups. Foals born at the Sanctuary are offered for adoption each year. Stevie was adopted by a family who fell in love with his photo, and ultimately decided to take on Lacey as well.
Unfortunately their adopter was forced to rehome the two youngsters due to personal circumstances. Two years later, the original owners were contacted by the person who had taken them, who also was unable to keep them. Concerned for their safety, both owners turned to SAFE for help. We evaluated the horses with the assistance of our veterinarian at Mt Rainier Equine, who found them to be in decent health and soundness, but pretty thin. (Stevie needs to gain about 150 pounds, Lacey about 50-75.) The two horses were surrendered into our care, and arrived at Safe Harbor last Sunday.
Of the two, Stevie is the worst off. He’s visibly underweight, with prominent hips and ribs and a ewe neck. Lacey is shorter and stockier, so she does not look as bad as he does. She is also the dominant horse of the pair, so it’s likely that she got the larger share of what they were being fed. Both horses have dull coats from lack of nutrition and seem a little dull attitude-wise as well. They are both extremely sweet and friendly, and quite interested in people, so they have clearly been treated well in their short lives. A few months of good nutrition and plentiful food and they should be just fine.
SAFE has “the kids” in quarantine for two weeks where they are being treated for any possible lice and are being closely monitored for any signs of illness by our staff and volunteers. They are also being re-fed an appropriate diet for their current weight and condition.
Once they get a clear bill of health, both Stevie and Lacey will start into training. Stevie in particular has displayed some herd-bound behavior and needs to learn boundaries so he can be safely handled. Lacey has impressed us a lot with her willingness to approach new situations, like trailer loading. She definitely has her moments of mare-ish-ness, but she’s pretty easy to handle and was surprisingly well behaved for the veterinarian. A big plus for a 3 year old and quite promising in terms of her future demeanor!
We look forward to working with these bright young horses and will enjoy watching them as they transform into beautiful representatives of their hardy breed.