Ben

SEX:
Gelding
BREED:
Thoroughbred
REGISTERED NAME:
Babe Hoolihan
COLOR:
Chestnut
MARKINGS:
Blaze and hind sock
DOB:
March 22, 2004
AGE:
12
HEIGHT:
16.2
WEIGHT:
LOCATION:
Woodinville
ADOPTION FEE:
$1,000
Online Adoption Application

Ben was seized from his owner by Pierce County Animal Control after he was discovered running down a road by a pizza delivery driver. He was thin and neglected. He was signed over to SAFE after 3 months in AC custody. After his rescue, we discovered that he’s been at risk since he left the track at age 3, having had several different owners in the past seven years. Ben is a very nice boy, sweet and friendly, and he has a ton of personality. But he may never be a beginner safe horse. He’s had a lot of issues to overcome, both physically and mentally. We’ve put a lot of work into his body in an attempt to make him more comfortable and reduce his stress. We’ve also done tons of ground work with him. He really excels at In Hand work because he is very smart and sensitive, always watching his handler for clues. Under saddle, Ben shows a lot of promise, but he will probably never be a show horse because the show environment causes him so much anxiety. We’d love to see Ben in a home where he can be ridden on the trails and where he can be loved for who he is inside. This big goofy Thoroughbred is super interactive with people and can be very vocal, too. He loves to make people laugh, and he would be a great horse for someone with intermediate riding skills who appreciates the personality and beauty of Thoroughbreds.

Joel Conner Clinic Report: Ben

SAFE’s volunteer riders and their horses spent last weekend working with Joel Conner. Here’s a report from Melinda SAFE’s Herd Health Manager about her session with Ben:

I had the pleasure of working with Ben for both groundwork sessions of the Joel Conner clinic over the weekend. He was a rock star! Lisa has done an incredible job in building his confidence and getting him to relax and focus. I wasn’t sure at first about how he would behave with a relative stranger at the other end of the rope, but from the get-go he was attentive and respectful of me. There were a few times when something would distract him, but just a gentle reminder to pay attention was all he ever needed.

He knows the groundwork exercises well. He responds with a soft feel easily when backing and is sensitive enough to body language that he picks up on what you’re about to ask him almost before even needing to ask it. It was like he was the “old pro” in the arena, there to show all the newcomers how things are done. Heck, he was the old pro in the arena who was there to show me how things are done! Whenever I fumbled, he’d wait for me to get my act together and try again. I was very appreciative of his patience.

I wasn’t able to make it to the most recent clinic in August, but I audited the two clinics prior and got to see Ben’s progression. The work that has gone into getting him where he is now has paid off tenfold. The gelding who first came to us as a bundle of energy mixed with fear and insecurity is now a calm, cool, collected kind of guy. Even when one of the other horses spooked and caused a bit of commotion, Ben just stood there and watched on, totally unfazed.

It warms my heart when I think about the changes we’ve seen in Ben. I really can’t say enough about how much he impressed me this weekend. He really is something special and I’m glad I got the chance to know him a little better.

Filed Under: Ben

Ben at the Joel Conner Clinic, September 9-11, 2016

ben_09_11_2016(as reported by his regular rider, Lisa Garr)
In September, Ben and I once again worked under the tutelage of Joel Conner at a SAFE-hosted clinic. This weekend showed a completely new horse in our big ol’ redheaded fellow. Now able to handle pressure from the bit without panicking, we worked on soft feel, isolating front-quarters and hindquarters, and transitioning down off of two reins (although, always, continuing to use the seat to ask for transitions as well) for more punctuality. Ben is learning to reach for a soft feel and to collect himself at the walk and trot so he can stay balanced throughout his body. He worked through the entire weekend without ONCE mentally “checking out”, staying relaxed and confident. As we did in April, we worked on walk-trot-canter transitions around the group, but this time Ben was able to work THROUGH these transitions, up, down, and back up again, with my seat, my feel, and the bit as aids.

Ben has started progressing in leaps and bounds throughout the past six months. While we are still working on balance, proper engagement, punctual responses, and calm transitions, I can say with utter confidence that, with support, understanding, patience, and a FAIR approach, this lanky redhead is going to make someone a willing, smart, hardworking equine partner with enough heart and “try” to blow you away. I can’t express how proud I am of this horse nor how honored I am to be a part of the SAFE Training Team that gives these animals a chance to prove how truly amazing they can be.

Filed Under: Ben

Hi Ho Stevie!

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_09_02_2016

NEW Photos: Ben at SAFE Show 2016

Filed Under: Ben

SAFE Benefit Horse Show, July 30-31, 2016

(as reported by his regular rider, Lisa Garr)
On July 27, 3 days before our annual SAFE Benefit Horse Show, I decided to go for it and ask if our biggest redhead could go along – even if just to BE at the show, competing or not. Ben was reported to have a lot of anxiety in a show environment the previous summer, even when not participating, to an almost-dangerous degree. But he had come SO FAR in the 10 months we had been working together in his ability to accept new situations calmly and to work through trouble, I really wanted to give him the chance to have a positive experience in a high-energy environment. We got the go-ahead, and we loaded everyone up on Friday afternoon and headed out.

Ben did indeed have a lot of anxiety on that first evening, as horses were constantly being hauled in, excited competitors were everywhere, and trucks and trailers were constantly coming and going. So, Friday evening, several times over, we exited his stall, grabbed our gear, and worked- on the same things we did at home every day. We did a little groundwork at a time, in various locations throughout the (extensive and beautiful) showgrounds, and when he focused on me and worked calmly for a minute, we went back to the stall and he had some hay. We took a walk with all the other SAFE horses to check out the grounds. We did some work. We gave everyone baths. Everyone munched on some grass. We did some work- all with breaks in between.

On Saturday, it was the same idea, but sometimes we were in a show ring for a little while and he was asked to stand still for a bit. If he was too anxious, we went to work for a little while. Then he was asked to stand, walk a little, work a little, and back to the stall. A few times in the morning, in the warm-up ring and even once in a class, he got so worked up he reared (his former go-to escape from mental pressure). “No big deal, big guy, but now to work – if you’re going to move your feet, it needs to be forward, not up.” This utter lack of pressure and reaction between times in his stall, I feel, was great for him. By mid-day Saturday, I could approach his stall and, instead of his head snapping up, eyes wide, ears LOCKED forward, he just looked at me… like, “Oh, hey. We’re going out again? Cool.” WHAT A TRANSFORMATION! We did in-hand obstacle courses, walked (more-or-less) over bridges, through (OK, UP to) cowboy curtains, across tarps, serpentines through cones and trotted over ground poles, all while staying relaxed and willing. Ben even scored HUGE on an in-hand dressage test!

Ben may not have taken home many ribbons, but this guy was without doubt the biggest winner in my book.

Filed Under: Ben

Not impressed.

Jewel, who helped out as an anatomy model at yesterday’s Equine Health Fair & Open House, is not impressed by Ben’s posturing.

jewel_ben_06_28_2016

Ben at the Joel Conner Clinic, April 16-17, 2016

Ben_02_2016_01(as reported by Ben’s regular rider, Lisa Garr)
In December of 2015, Ben and I participated in a clinic at SAFE with trainer Joel Conner and I was just hoping he would stay calm enough to participate safely. Well, he blew me away then with his focus, willingness, and trust, and in April we once again joined Joel for a clinic… and Ben was a STAR!

Since December we had been focusing on moving up and down through transitions calmly off of the seat, from walk to trot and back down again, stopping off of one rein, finding a soft feel, moving his body in a straight(ish) manner, and really just continuing to help Ben understand that when he is asked to bring his energy up a little and move at a slightly faster pace, that does not necessarily mean RUN. Ben had been described at one point the previous summer (2015) as a bolter… but really he just had never been taught to listen; he had just been taught to GO. He was then taught to GO and JUMP but then STOP and HOLD YOUR HEAD HERE but still GO but NOT TOO FAST and KEEP YOUR HIP THERE and HEAD HERE and…. well, I’M confused… and so was he. It felt like he was with me (mentally) until I asked for a trot, and he would stay with me for a bit but then “check out”… his brain turned off, his feet got to moving, and goodbye Ben, hello Babe Hoolihan the Racehorse! He was imbalanced (hip out, shoulder in, head out and often tipped slightly… he rather resembled Gumby, actually) at the trot, but especially in the canter, even without a rider, and didn’t know how to coordinate himself.

I was already so proud of the progress Ben had made by the time Joel arrived for April’s clinic, I couldn’t wait to see how much more he could accomplish with his guidance. Throughout the weekend, Ben was focused, relaxed, incredibly willing and soft, and picking up new material like crazy. At the end of the riding portion each day, Joel had each horse-and-rider pair move out and work on something specific to their training needs. For Ben, it was moving up and down off of the seat (as opposed to pressure from the reins & bit) and staying checked-in, mentally. Day one was OK – The rest of the class was gathered in the center of the arena and we were working around the outside, trying to trot at a good pace without jumping into the canter. In the end, when he DID hook back on and come down, it was a huge emotional release for both of us and a HUGE step forward in our work together. On the second day at this time, we DID canter… and then some. All while receiving instruction and support from Joel, it was the same idea as day one but at Ben’s “Trigger Pace”– at which he was taught to GO and GO and GO and GO (regardless of form or balance) until someone hauled on his face to stop him. So, he ran. I quieted my seat, pet him constantly, and kept him out to the wall (again, the rest of the group was gathered in the center of the arena), while trying to help him stay balanced. Did I mention he ran? Maybe 15 full laps around the arena, but at one point his ears flipped forward (he “checked back in”), his poll straightened, and he came down to a fast trot… and as he was only given support and continued quiet praise, he slowed through the trot, then the walk, and when he finally stopped altogether, he sighed, licked, chewed, sighed some more, and his entire body relaxed. It’s difficult to describe, but his entire FEEL changed in that moment. This would take a LOT of continued work, but with Joel’s guidance, we made huge leap in teaching Ben to trust that he would be supported and treated fairly and that he did not need to protect himself by mentally checking out. What an amazing horse this guy is!

Ben_02_2016_02

Ben_02_2016_03

Filed Under: Ben

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!

Ben and Lisa Take a Lesson with Michael Sparling

Here is a lovely write up from Lisa G who is training Ben at Safe Harbor. He is gaining a lot of confidence from her steady and caring approach.

I worked with Ben in a lesson with Michael Sparling the other night, and have a lot of things, big and small, to work on over the next couple of weeks. First and foremost is something that we have been focusing on, but need to up the game on a little, and that is building strength, flexibility, and coordination in his whole body, as well as his confidence. We will focus primarily on rolling his hindquarters around his forehand, working up to backing straight out of this movement, and backing in circles. Ben has shown a LOT of improvement in this over the past month, but still has a long way to go, and we are focusing now on doing the movements with softness throughout his body, and moving smoothly and calmly.

Ben has had a snaffle bit put on a couple of times recently, and he reacts very poorly, just to carrying it; head twisting, jaw stretching, tongue out… basically trying to relieve mental pressure via his “funny faces”. I am attempting to reintroduce him to the bit in a way that lets him disassociate pressure, fear, and discomfort from carrying a bit in his mouth. I have started to, and will continue to, do groundwork with a bridle on over his halter, utilizing only the halter and lead to guide him. Michael thought this step was a good choice, but warned against letting it go too long and allowing his fear of the bit become a Big Deal (to paraphrase Buck Brannaman: get to it when it’s a small issue; before it becomes a big problem!), so I will play it by ear, but plan to start utilizing the bit and working off of the slobber strap relatively soon.

I worked Ben a little from the saddle, just in a rope halter, and practiced a lot of hindquarter rolling, gentle directing from the lead, working into 1-rein stops… which he was doing GREAT with by the end of the session! We did a couple rounds of drawing up to the fence, mounting, moving off, and building a good working walk, then easing back down in pace, and rolling into a 1-rein stop, all while he stayed relaxed and without bracing against any of my cues.

All in all, I am thrilled to see the changes in Big Ben, and look forward to helping him find confidence and comfort in his body and movement.

Ben & Lisa
Ben & Lisa
Filed Under: Ben

Our Resident Comedian Ben

BenSome pictures are worth a thousand words, and some, like these, a whole bucket of laughs.  Ben is a big goofball with as many expressions as that of a great stand-up comedian.  We love hanging out with this big guy as his antics always put a smile on everyone’s face.

Jolene, a volunteer rider, enjoys working with Ben and understands his personality well.  Jessica, another volunteer, snapped some very entertaining photos of Ben and Jolene when he was being groomed after his workout.  You can see how much he loves all the attention, especially the scratches.  It is so wonderful to see the transformation in this gentle boy with the big heart!

 

Filed Under: Ben

Ben & Oscar — An Unexpected Friendship

A few weeks ago, we had a wonderful group from Microsoft come to SAFE for a Day of Caring. All the horses had to be out of the barns since the group was pressure washing and replacing gravel and mats in the stalls. So we were a little short of places to put all the horses while the work was going on. I decided to see if Ben and Oscar might be able to co-habitate in the arena together for the day. To my surprise and relief, they became fast friends and really enjoyed each other’s company! So much so that they are now turned out together every day! Here are some great pictures of them playing together. As you can see they are like two young colts with their funny faces! But I have to admit I think Oscar is the boss…which is really funny since Ben towers over this little guy!

Ben: Follow up Bodywork

Dr. Christin Finn came to see Ben on Friday for his third bodywork session. Each time, the work has made changes to how he moves and even the shape of his back. This time it was clear that we needed to push through some very tight back and pelvic muscles. While the adjustments and acupuncture in the past sessions had helped loosen a lot of this area up, Dr. Finn suggested we speed the process up by using a laser on these tight areas. You never know how they are going to react to this treatment and sometimes you can’t even tell if they like it or if they are feeling anything. Well Ben helped us know we were on the right track! He began stretching and moving his neck during the laser treatment. He had lot some nice yawns and was very well behaved for the work. The best result was seeing the movement he had after the work was complete. His stride was much more forward and you could see his back and hips moving softly with his steps. Let’s be honest: he is a beautiful boy but Dr. Finn helped this boy find his stride! He looks amazing and with just a few more weeks of conditioning at Safe Harbor he will be ready for professional training with Joel Conner.

Filed Under: Ben

Love Bug Ben

Filed Under: Ben

Handsome Ben!

Volunteer Jessica Farren was out to the stables last week and took some beautiful photos of Ben and volunteer Ann working in the arena. We also had a few others with Ben and Terry in the arena a few weeks ago. He is truly a stunning boy and his looking healthy and content with his… Continue Reading

Filed Under: Ben

SAFE’s clinic with Joel Conner and Colt starting demonstrations

It was a pleasure this past weekend to have Joel Conner visit the SAFE horses and teach our volunteers. We began each morning, with a colt starting demonstration where Joel worked with Hickory, Mesquite and Ben. Joel is an expert when it comes to working with un-started horses and it was clearly evident that his… Continue Reading

Michael Sparling and Ben

When Michael Sparling came to town for his most recent clinic at SHS, we asked him to work with Ben for a short session to help us assess him for training. Michael worked with Ben on the ground before getting into the saddle. Ben demonstrated both the anxiety under saddle reported by his previous trainer,… Continue Reading

Filed Under: Ben

Ben returns to the fold

For the past 60 days or so, Ben has been on an extended trial with a Hunter/Jumper trainer who was interested in finding out if he had a future as a sporthorse. This was a wonderful opportunity for Ben, and a tremendous help to us because it meant that he would receive two months of professional… Continue Reading

Filed Under: Ben

So far is SO good for Ben!

Some horses just have that sparkle in their eye from the moment they arrive at SAFE. Within the abused or neglected body is a personality that’s just waiting for the energy and life to come back. Since the day he arrived at Safe Harbor, Ben has been one of those great horses. Outwardly he can… Continue Reading

Filed Under: Ben

Ben training update

Ben has been getting some good work with our volunteer riders. He is a very interesting fellow who has a playful side that has to be carefully managed. He is not for an inexperienced horse person. Even walking him to and from turnout requires the handler to be mindful of Ben’s energy and helping him… Continue Reading

Filed Under: Ben

Ben Update

Ben is looking great! He needs to gain about 100 more pounds or so but his appetite is up and he is eating very well. We are doing light liberty and ground work with him while he recovers from starvation. He is a very smart and fast learner. We will start to reintroduce tack to… Continue Reading

Filed Under: Ben

Ben has a sweet spot…

…and Steph knows right where it is! This is a happy horse.   Ben is steadily gaining weight and winning the hearts of our volunteers! He is a sweet boy and very smart and willing to work. We are just lightly working him at liberty and adding a little bit of groundwork off the rope… Continue Reading

Filed Under: Ben

Ben has been identified…

We’ve checked Ben’s tattoo and discovered that he is a 2004 gelding named Babe Hoolihan, bred in Washington state, and raced twice as a three year old. (He came in dead last in both races, so obviously horse racing didn’t suit him.) In 2009, he was rescued from an abusive situation in South Pierce County… Continue Reading

Filed Under: Ben

Ben at Safe Harbor

Ben arrived safely at Safe Harbor Stables and Terry & Laura spent some time with him, getting him cleaned up and taking photos. As we suspected, this guy is a sweetheart! Continue Reading

Filed Under: Ben

Ben Intake Photos

We picked up Ben today from Pierce County Animal Control. He’s a 12 year old Thoroughbred gelding, tall, chestnut, with a blaze and one hind sock. He was picked up by Animal Control after a pizza delivery driver found him running down the road — he was in pitifully thin condition with a BCS of… Continue Reading

Filed Under: Ben

safekeepers

Ben’s Friends:

1. Jessica F.

2. Maureen S.

3. Lori P.

4. Julie B.

5. _____________________

6. _____________________

7. _____________________

8. _____________________

9. _____________________

10._____________________

Every horse deserves at least ten friends! Even a small monthly donation can make a difference. Plus, SAFE horse sponsors receive discounts at local businesses through the SAFEkeepers program!

Click here to sponsor Ben!