In mid-June, A Home for Every Horse (AHFEH) and AIM Studios traveled to Woodinville, Washington to visit Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE). This is the first in our series of rescue visits to highlight all of the hard work rescues are doing inside of the Equine industry. SAFE is a rescue dedicated to saving horses from dire situations and rehabilitating them, so they can find forever homes. SAFE has a huge focus on the community around the rescue, without the community SAFE would not be able to find, rehabilitate and place as many horses.
While in Washington, A Home for Every Horse representative Mariah Hammerschmidt was met by Purina’s Amy Margolin and Gina Fresquez to help build the already thriving feed program at SAFE. A comprehensive feed program is extremely important for equine rescues, as horses come in from many stages of life and many different situations. Luckily, Purina is here to help, by providing rescues with the feed they need to help horses.
During AHFEH’s visit to SAFE we had the opportunity to meet a horse named Anakin. Anakin spent twelve years of his life working in the Equine Research lab at Cal Poly Pomona, where he participated in studies on biomechanics, locomotion and the effects of high altitude. After the program was shut down in 2010, Anakin found a new home. Unfortunately, he was found six years later starving in a field in Washington State. To get Anakin to SAFE, he had to be aided with a hoist and sling, as he could no longer stand. Anakin showed his strength and fight as many weeks later he began to stand on his own. He eventually made a full recovery. During AHFEH’s visit, Anakin’s story came full circle and was adopted. He will live out the rest of his days being a companion horse with acres of green pasture, joining other companion-only horses that his new home had adopted.
A Home for Every Horse plans on visiting rescues throughout the year to bring awareness to the work they do every day: helping find forever homes for the over 170,000 unwanted horses. As part of the recognition of the hard and compassionate work done by SAFE, Purina helped educate SAFE about proper nutrition for horses in both rehabilitation stages, as well as maintenance. Other sponsors of A Home for Every Horse presented the rescue with some horse-care gifts. This includes a Tractor Supply Company gift card, discounts on Electrobraid Fencing, a new WeatherBeeta blanket and twelve tubes of Zoetis Strongid paste. Each sponsor is key in assisting SAFE with rescuing more horses and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for those horses still at the rescue.
If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.
This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.Here’s how it works:• Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.
• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.
• Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.
If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.
Bonnie Hammond is the executive director and co-founder of a very special organization called Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE) in Woodinville, WA. SAFE’s mission is “To rescue, rehabilitate, and retrain horses facing neglect or abuse and provide them with the best opportunity for a permanent home and a lifetime of safety.” This is an extremely challenging but rewarding goal that can make a huge impact on both the lives of the horses and those caring for them. Read on to learn the top 5 reasons why you should consider adopting a rescue horse.
Keeping Horses Off of the Slaughter Trailer
SAFE started with an online group who wanted to work together to raise money and rescue a single horse from a Washington slaughter pen. After six months of successfully rescuing this one horse and several others, the group realized that they could do more for the animals by actually providing rehabilitation and retraining. SAFE was formed in November 2005. Over the years, SAFE has helped many horses in the local area. Still, they remain a small organization taking only 27 horses at a time. They operate on a shoestring budget and greatly depend on donations and volunteers.
Rehabilitate, Retrain, and Re-home Good Equine Citizens
The focus of SAFE is to not only rescue these abused, neglected and unwanted horses, but also to make sure that they are healthy and well-trained equines that can safely go to a new “forever home.” Horses that come to SAFE come from animal control seizures, or from owners who can no longer afford to care for their animals. The horses that are in the most desperate situation are sometimes taken to Northwest Equine Stewardship Center (NWESC) where they receive specialized veterinary care and observation from Dr. Hannah Mueller and her staff.
Once the horses are stable and eating normally, they will leave the center and begin the process of retraining. “In order to get horses ready to be adopted, we want to create what we call a “good equine citizen.” A good equine citizen is a horse that is safe to handle and a horse that can do the basic skills.” This means they have good ground manners and know how to behave for the farrier, vet visits, baths, fly spray, or allow themselves to be caught in the pasture. This training is extremely important.
Trailer training is a big part of that.” she continued. “If you have an emergency situation in which you need to get horses in and out of where they are, you don’t want to have to deal with a horse that refuses to load.” One of SAFE’s trainers, Terry Phelps, said, “Actually a lot of what I use to help the SAFE horses overcome their trailer fears has roots in Natural Horsemanship. Most are truly afraid of that big box and it takes patience and a willingness to work through it at their pace for it to succeed.”
The horses also receive under saddle training and are worked to the point that they can easily handle walk, trot, and canter under saddle. This includes exposure to trail riding. From here, they are ready to undergo more specialized training including disciplines like jumping or even dressage. Regular updates and videos on each horse’s training progress are available on their website for potential adopters to view in advance.
Two Success Stories: Owen the Untouchable Stallion and Delilah the Dressage Champion
Bonnie shared her personal account of two special horses at the SAFE rescue center. One is Owen, an Curly Horse stallion who was going to be put down by his owner because she had lost her property. “He was six years old and he was untouchable. He didn’t wear a halter and he didn’t want to let anyone near him.” Bonnie feels strongly that “not providing training for a horse really ought to be considered a form of abuse as well. Horses are too big and too dangerous to grown into full sized animals to not know how to walk on a lead line or put a halter on.”
Over the last six months, Owen has blossomed under SAFE’s care. “He is an amazing horse! He is one of the smartest horses I’ve ever met. He has this way of reasoning out problems and thinking through things that are scary.” Once he was gelded, he was started on his ground and under saddle training. “He’s going to make someone an absolute treasure!”
A second special story is about a draft-cross named Delilah. She was an animal control seizure who was starved and nine months pregnant when she came to SAFE. After delivering a healthy colt, she was retrained and sold to a lady who is now showing her in 1st Level Dressage where she qualified for the Regional Championships! “To see her out there in the ring among horses that are a lot more expensive, a lot better bred, a lot more carefully brought up, and to see her competing at that level was really amazing.” Bonnie stressed that a big part of their work at SAFE is retraining these horses. “It’s not enough to just save their lives and get them new homes. People want horses that they can do stuff with.”
The Ups and Downs of a Horse Rescue
For Bonnie, her favorite part of working with rescue horses is seeing them “come back to life.” She shared, “We take in horses that are in the most desperate conditions. They’ve been starved. They been neglected and abused. Watching them regain their physical beauty…we get to see the light come back on in their lives…their whole demeanor changes. They start to relax. They start to get that spark and they start to get that glow again. That is hands down the best part of rescuing horses.” She said that horses are animals that don’t forget when they are abused but they are willing to give people another chance and they have a sense for when you are trying to help them. “It inspires me to no end.”
There are many challenges that go along with this operation as well. Bonnie said she is frustrated by the never-ending need for rescue services. “The biggest challenge is that the need never seems to slow down or go away. There are always horses out there that are in bad conditions…It’s a struggle not to let that continual need get me down.” She also cautioned against the over breeding of horses, saying, “Foals are amazing. They’re beyond adorable, but they grow up in to 1200 lb animals that need a lot of care and a lot of space. We end up with so many horses that are unwanted due to backyard breeding.” She said it’s important to have a plan for that foal’s entire life.
As you can imagine, the SAFE operation needs a great deal of equipment to operate their farm and transport their animals. They currently use a three horse trailer to transport their animals, although “one of our wish list items would be to have a trailer that is a little taller inside. Our biggest horses, when put into our current trailer…their ears touch the ceiling.” Also on their wish list, they would love to have a SAFE-owned truck to haul the trailer as well as a custom horse trailer that could be used to haul their two mascot mini-horses to promotional events like parades and school events.
Top 5 Reasons to Adopt from Horse Rescue
That leaves us with the top 5 reasons to adopt a rescue horse:
Horse rescues really know their horses. If you were to rescue a horse from a slaughter pen, you would have no idea the horses training and natural temperament. It’s much better to rescue a horse from an organization like SAFE where they’ve taken the time to rehabilitate and retrain the animal under saddle and in hand. They know the animal really well and can help you find a really good fit. Videos, photos, and training updates are available on the SAFE website and they are going to be very honest about the horse’s vices so that they can make a good match for horse and rider. Bonnie’s #1 tip is to make sure you take the time to really get to know your potential rescue horse beforehand since these resources are available.
Free up the space for another horse to be rescued. Bonnie explained, “Adopting a horse with us means that we have the opportunity to help another horse in need.”
It’s your chance to give back. It is truly a wonderful thing to give back to a horse who has been abused. “We exist to make up for the fact that other humans have mistreated this horse. By rescuing them, it’s our chance to say we’re sorry on behalf of the people who don’t do right by horses,” said Bonnie.
Not just an inexpensive option. Although rescue horses may be less expensive than other horses for sale, Bonnie cautioned, “The people who make the best adopters are not the people who are looking for a diamond in the rough or looking for an inexpensive option.” Don’t take a rescue horse purely because of selfish or money-saving reasons. Make sure you also want to help this animal to succeed. Bonnie stated, “The very best adopters aren’t thinking ‘what can this horse do for me,’ but ‘what can I do for this horse.’”
Rescue horses can go on to do great things! Just look at the story of Delilah who became a successful dressage horse. These horses have the potential to be wonderful and talented companions. They may come to the rescue underfed and run down, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have loving hearts and intelligent minds.
Rescue horses can be wonderful companions for many different types of people. Take an active role in your local horse rescue, and you can ensure that these animals have a second chance at life. By adopting one of these animals, you can free up the space for another desperate animal to be brought in for help. We encourage you to find your local rescue operation and get involved to make a difference. For more information about SAFE rescue in Washington state, visit their website at www.safehorses.org.
The story of Thoroughbred Anakin, found neglected in Western Washington in December, spread across the country last month, striking a chord with horse lovers who now can take credit for his recovery.
The 20-year-old gelding was found several hundred pounds underweight, following a celebrated career in equine research years ago at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, or Cal Poly Pomona. The Woodinville horse-rescue nonprofit, Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE), stepped in to care for him, and now caregivers say he’s making significant progress toward health.
Since Anakin’s story surfaced, SAFE Executive Director Bonnie Hammond said donors from Florida to the Midwest came forward to help his cause, providing a little more than $11,000 to help cover veterinary expenses.
“His spirit and his will to live really captures people,” she said. “We are so grateful to the people who reached out and donated because it made it possible to give Anakin the vet care he needed and save his life.”
He stayed at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish County until Jan. 20, when veterinarians deemed him healthy enough to return to SAFE. At the hospital, caregivers focused intensely on getting him to stand on his own, a feat Hammond said he has since conquered.
“He still appears very thin, but he’s improving,” Hammond said. “His personality is starting to come out — he’s starting to have a lot more energy — and he has started to express himself with little bucks and jumps.”
Though Anakin has gained 100 pounds since being found, he still has at least 200 more to go before reaching full weight, Hammond said. Caregivers are giving him food four times a day, medication and walks, expecting him to reach full recovery in about four months, she said.
And once he is there, a home seeking a pasture horse, not one for riding or working, will be able to adopt him, Hammond said.
“We’re hoping to show the world another healthy and vibrant Anakin,” she said. “He would make a great companion.”
WOODINVILLE, Wash. — A local horse that was near the brink of death in mid-December is making remarkable progress.
20-year-old Anakin was incredibly weak and thin when he was rescued from a small farm in Lewis County late last year. His hips and all of his ribs were exposed.
He’s gained about 100 pounds since then and is now able to stand up on his own, said Bonnie Hammond, Executive Director of the horse rescue group Save a Forgotten Equine (S.A.F.E.).
“The brightness, the personality is coming through,” Hammond said. “He’s showing joy for life again, and that is a wonderful, wonderful thing to see.”
Anakin spent several weeks at Cedarbrook Veterinary Care in Snohomish following his rescue. As he started to feel better, he would try to lie down on his own, Hammond said. But he was too weak to get himself back up.
“His hind legs were so weak from the starvation that he went through, that he didn’t have the strength to push his hind end up,” Hammond said.
Anakin was transferred to Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish, which has a stall with a hoist attached to the ceiling.
The hospital called Hammond every day to update her on Anakin’s status. After several weeks of care, Hammond received word from one of Anakin’s doctors that he had gotten up on his own.
“When we listened to that (voice)mail, we cheered and we cried and we were so relieved that he had gotten to that point,” Hammond said. “We were going to be able to give this horse the thing we most wanted to give him and that’s a second chance. And boy, that was a relief.”
Some of Anakin’s bones are still visible, but his progress has been remarkable, Hammond said.
“He has a couple hundred more pounds to go,” Hammond said. “We feel he’s out of the woods in terms of his stability, but he has a long way to go.”
Anakin is fed 4 meals a day. S.A.F.E. employees and volunteers have taken him on daily walks for the past 2 weeks to keep him mobile.
“It’s really been cool over the last week or so to see his attitude and personality develop a little bit more,” said S.A.F.E.’s barn manager. “He’s gotten more comfortable with the barn.”
“He’s really come a long way in the last 7 weeks,” Hammond added.
Most of Anakin’s vet care has already eaten through the $11,000 viewers and admirers have donated for his recovery, Hammond said.
Hammond believes it’ll take at least another 4 months before Anakin is back to full strength.
He’ll get there, Hammond said. He’s already proven he has the will to survive.
“He’s gonna be a beauty,” she said.
Anakin will be available for adoption once he’s healthy. S.A.F.E. plans to keep track of his progress for the rest of his life, employees said.
Click here for more information about Save A Forgotten Equine.
With a starved frame, Anakin lacks strength to stand on his own. The 20-year-old Thoroughbred was found neglected in Western Washington early last month following a celebrated career in research years ago.
But now, several hundred pounds underweight, the former star is on an uphill trot to health. The Woodinville horse-rescue nonprofit, Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE), stepped in to care for the gelding, hoping he eventually gains strength to get up on his own.
“His will to live is incredible, considering the shape he’s in,” SAFE Executive Director Bonnie Hammond said. “Most horses would’ve given up a long time ago, but he’s determined to keep on living.”
Anakin started his life as a mediocre racehorse. At 3 years old, his fate seemed grim — he was sent to a kill pen — until a team of California researchers offered him a new career.
The group, from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, or Cal Poly Pomona, rescued him. Over the next 12 years, he participated in studies on locomotion and impacts on horses at high altitudes, among other topics, at the school’s Equine Research Center.
But when the facility’s director suddenly died, research funding grew scarce. The studies ended, putting Anakin’s future again in limbo, at age 15, until one researcher in the group took him in.
After that, his story is fuzzy. It’s unclear where and how he wound up in Washington malnourished. The Gray’s County Sheriff’s Office’s animal-control department is investigating the case with hopes of determining Anakin’s source of mistreatment.
Caregivers say he is making progress in terms of physical activity and appetite at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish County, though they estimate it will take three to four months before he returns to full weight and health, according to the horse’s profile on the SAFE’s website.
Some two weeks after he first entered the facility, caregivers were still using a hoist to get him up on his feet because his hind legs are so weak.
“I’m just hoping and praying that he’s going to start showing signs that he’s going to be able to stand up on his own,” Hammond said. “He didn’t get this thin overnight, and he’s not going to bounce back overnight.”
SAFE is accepting donations to support Anakin, which can be made online, by calling 206-331-0006 or by mailing a check to SAFE at 16509 164th Ave. N.E., Woodinville, 98072.
Jessica Lee: 206-464-2532 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For us, Anakin’s story began early Monday morning with an email asking for our help. It was from a woman in Winlock, Washington who wanted to know if SAFE had room to take in an emaciated Thoroughbred gelding.
The horse had been rescued a few days earlier by her young boarder, and it had become clear to her that he was going to need much more than either of them would be able to provide or afford. While SAFE’s intake team was discussing how best to help, a second email arrived. The horse was down on the ground and was unable to get back to his feet.
Two days prior, they had faced a similar situation with Anakin, and the Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART) had been deployed to the property to hoist him to his feet. Now, Anakin was in trouble again. He’d laid down to rest and his weakness, combined with the wet, over-saturated ground, made it impossible for him to stand up. He was stiff, cold and tired, and there was more bad weather on the way.
Once again, WASART answered the call and sent a team out to assist Anakin a second time. Using a Häst tripod, a Becker sling and a large group of manpower, WASART responders safely returned Anakin to an upright position. (The story and photos of this rescue operation are amazing, so if you’ve not seen them, visit WASART’s Facebook page to experience this incredible feat of rescue, and consider making a donation to this all-volunteer organization.)
More than one rescuer commented on Anakin’s demeanor during the complicated procedure. He was calm, relaxed and fairly unconcerned about what was happening. WASART responders often find that horses who have been through such an ordeal will eventually just give up and give in to exhaustion. Not Anakin. Clearly this was a horse with a strong will to live. Continue Reading on HorseCollaborative.com
SNOHOMISH, Wash. — A local horse that’s near the brink of death is now on the long road to recovery in Snohomish.
It’s pretty tough to look at Anakin, a 20-year-old Thoroughbred gelding.
He’s painfully thin. His hips and all of his ribs are exposed.
No horse should ever look the way he does, said Bonnie Hammond.
“I’ve never seen a horse as thin as Anakin is right now,” said Hammond, the Executive Director of Save a Forgotten Equine Horse Rescue. “It’s so hard to express how painful it is to see a lovely animal like this whose been starved to the brink of death.”
Hammond and her team had Anakin brought to Cedarbrook Veterinary Care in Snohomish after two recent rescue efforts at a small farm in Lewis County involving the Washington State Animal Response Team.
WASART teams were called out to the farm twice in early December when weakness and wet ground prevented Anakin from standing back up after lying down to rest, Hammond said. He was incredibly weak, she added. The fear of stroke or death was real.
“The whole procedure really didn’t freak him out like most horses would. He was pretty calm about the whole thing,” said Hammond. “And it wasn’t until we found out about his history with (California State Polytechnic University) that all of a sudden it made sense.”
Anakin spent 12 years at the Cal Poly Equine Research Center in Pomona, California, which was established in 1980 to study horse health, reproductive physiology, behavior, parasitology, and immunology, Hammond said.
Anakin was one of a group of horses that participated in locomotion studies and high altitude studies. It was valuable research spent around lots of people and equipment, Hammond said.
“He’s just got this amazing kindness and sort of wizeness about him,” said Hammond. “When I found out where he came from and what he did in his life, I was hooked. This is a really special horse.”
Hammond believes Anakin’s amazing spirit is a large reason why he’s still alive.
He’s not out of the woods yet, but tests performed this week show there’s no permanent damage to his liver or kidneys, Hammond said. He’s being kept in a clean, warm stall and eating a carefully controlled diet to prevent re-feeding syndrome, she added.
“He’s so zen,” Hammond said.
If things continue to go well for Anakin, the plan is to eventually find him a good home to live out the rest of his life, Hammond added.
“I’ve never seen a horse so thin who has so much light in his eyes. He’s decided that he’s not done yet. And he’s fought for his life as hard as he can,” Hammond said.
“He just deserves to be pampered, and loved, and cared for for the rest of his days.”
Anyone who is remotely interested in buying a horse should talk to Bonnie Hammond first. “Caring for horses is expensive,” says Hammond.
Hammond is the Executive Director of SAFE, otherwise known as Save A Forgotten Equine.
She says if you buy a horse be prepared to spend serious money on food. “The cost of hay has gone up obscenely,” she says.
Horse teeth need to be filed down. If not, they get jagged and cut the inside of the animal’s cheeks. Hoofs have to be trimmed. “Even without putting horse shoes on them it costs $40 dollars a trim,” notes Hammond.
“They have complicated digestive systems. There is a lot that can go wrong in there,” Hammond says with a tone conveying some unpleasant past experience in this area.
If you don’t have enough space for them at your place, you’ll have to pay rent for them to live somewhere else. In the Seattle area boarding rates go from $600 a month up to $1,200.
Many of the horses at SAFE are there because their former owner did not think these things through.
Finding Her Calling
Hammond did not plan to be the person who takes in the starving, fearful creatures that are the result of people’s poor planning and mistakes.
In fact, Hammond didn’t have her first riding lesson until she was in her 30’s, when she had a job as a graphic designer.
She says she was a “horse-nutty girl” as a child. She read the entire black stallion series, and “all of the Marguerite Henry Misty of Chincoteague books. I read all those to tatters,” Hammond says.
By the time Hammond was 39 years old, she finally realized her childhood dream of learning how to ride and owning her own horse.
“Then my horse needed a friend and that’s the point when I stumbled upon efforts that people were making in this area to help horses headed to slaughter,” recalls Hammond, “And once I found that world everything really started to snowball.”
Dottie was the star of this week’s Where Are They Now? feature at Emerald Downs. This video contains a great message about the value of horses who cannot be ridden, and we’re super proud of SAFE Board Member Eve Tai for this terrific interview!