March Volunteer of the Month: Caryn Littler

For volunteering tirelessly through thick and thin, for the many unsolicited hours contributed to SAFE, and in recognition of her indefatigable good attitude, Caryn Littler is SAFE’s Volunteer of the Month for March.

A native of Rochester, New York who now lives in Seattle, Caryn has been riding pretty much since she could stand up. “I’ve been riding in backyards and at riding stables ever since, much to my parents’ amusement,” she says. She now rides a 13-hand welsh pony named Cricket, “learning to be a tiny eventing team.”

Caryn says she has always been around horses and volunteered at a rescue in New York for a brief time. When she first came to Seattle, she thought about volunteering to help horses and to meet new people. People she talked to had heard about SAFE from some of the rescues in Pierce County and were impressed with everyone’s professionalism, “so I knew this would be a great fit.”

Asked what she likes most about volunteering with SAFE, Caryn says, “I like that I get to learn something new, whether that’s watching Terry work with the horses, horse care, or facilities work around the farm.”

Phoenix is one of Caryn’s favorite rescue stories. “I wasn’t here when he was at SAFE the first time, or when he was found and brought back, but he was one of the first horses to greet me when I first started,” she says. “I didn’t think this horse, who thought he was a puppy, would ever get adopted: he had so many quirks, as lovable as he is. When Terry told me he had found his forever home, I was shocked! Now, I get to see pictures of him relaxing in a pasture and even roping cattle. I’m so happy he found a mom and dad who love him just as much as our volunteers and barn visitors do.”

When not helping at SAFE, Caryn likes to go exploring. “I’m not from the Pacific Northwest so when I’m not riding or volunteering, I drive to strangely-named places or go on day hikes to soak in views from our beautiful section of the world. And I’m always looking for suggestions.”

Updated Photos: Dyna

Intake Photos: Raven


February Volunteer of the Month — Casey A!!

Congratulations to Casey A. who has been named Volunteer of the Month for February in recognition of her stellar ground work and riding. “Casey is tireless, has a great attitude, is a star stall cleaner and communicates well with our ponies,” said SAFE Volunteer Manager Jane Millar. Trainer Joel Conner also praised the thoroughness of Casey’s prep work that sent Stevie to training with a great foundation for riding.

Casey started riding when she was eight at a small hunter/jumper barn in upstate New York. “I was hooked immediately,” she says, “and started spending every spare minute around horses, doing chores in exchange for lessons and board. Lady Louise, my first horse, was a small chestnut Arab with a flaxen mane and tail who, I like to think, chose me as much as I chose her. Affectionately known as Her Mareness, Lady taught me the value of elbow grease, gumption and quality. At nearly 30, she is now happily retired and well-loved by my mom, Sandy, in New York.

“Horses had become an indelible part of my life, so when I moved to the Seattle area in 2012, I was feeling the void. In the spring of 2013, I serendipitously found SAFE and started volunteering on a Tuesday night chore shift. Shortly after, I joined the riding and training program. Being a part of the SAFE community has felt like a gift. I have learned so much since joining the team, and I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded and strong horse people.”

Casey says she can’t choose a favorite SAFE horse, and is struck by how resilient and forgiving they are with kindness and consistency. “Right now, Stella, Stevie, and Jewel are keeping me on my toes,” she says. “They are each remarkably different, and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from them.”

SAFE is fortunate to have volunteers like Casey A., who work so hard to keep our horses healthy and on the path to finding their forever homes.

January Volunteer of the Month: Dave Shepherdson

Dave Shepherdson of Kenmore is SAFE’s January Volunteer of the Month in recognition of his willingness to serve tirelessly on multiple chore shifts and with the Facilities crew.

Dave came to SAFE initially because he wanted to spend time with his wife Colleen, who was volunteering on Friday evenings. He asked if he could come and help and soon became a regular. But even before signing on as a regular shift volunteer, Dave was instrumental in building new fencing and shelters for our horses.

Colleen Shepherdson and their daughter Bianca owned horses and a “cheeky” pony in their native South Africa. Dave says the pony would jump a five-foot railing to get into dog food stored in the garage. The family immigrated to Minnesota in 2001 and later moved to Kenmore. They became U.S. citizens in 2012.

Dave has enjoyed getting to be around horses for the first time and getting to know most of them. “They are really cool animals and, treated right, are like big puppies. I now can sense if they want to be left alone or would like a scratch.”

Asked if he has a favorite, he says, “I guess it is a reciprocal relationship. I really like Emmy and she likes me, so we tend to have lots of interaction when mucking out her stall.”

When not helping out at SAFE, Dave enjoys going to the gym and practicing 3D Archery.

SAFE is an amazing haven for horses because of people like Dave. Thank you, Dave!

Training Update: Stevie

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.:

Training & Health Update: Cameo

Cameo is coming along really well in her rehab work and she is now ready for the weight of a rider. Volunteer rider Lindsay was excited to help Cameo take this next step and helped her have a happy and easy ride. Here is a video of her first ride back:


Jewel getting some body work

The cold weather has been hard on all of us. The horses and volunteers had to endure a few weeks of abnormally low temperatures for our area and we are all looking forward to warmer spring and summer months! One of the biggest problems is the very hard ground in our dry lot for turnout. Unfortunately, Jewel went out there and jumped around and came in sore. To help release some of the tight muscles in her neck and hind, Lori spent some time massaging her. She really liked the work and we took this funny video of the great releases she was getting and all the BIG yawns! Jewel is feeling better now and back to work. We are going to make sure that Lori gets to her on a regular basis and have the chiropractor come out again soon. All good things to help her feel her best and like all of us… make it through the cold weather!

Health Update: Gracie

We are so happy to report that Miss Gracie is feeling happy and healthy! When the winter weather hit and turnout became limited, the amount of time outside or grazing for the horses was drastically shortened. While we work very hard to rotate all of the horses out into the arena or dry lot, there just is not enough space or time to equal what it was in the summer.

Gracie unfortunately had two very mild colics about 2 weeks apart when this transition to limited turnout occurred. She felt better each time with just a dose of bananime and the vet did not need to come out to see her but we new something needed to change. After talking to Dr. Fleck we suggested that we transition her over to a 3/4 senior complete feed mash and 1/4 hay diet. This made a world of difference and Gracie seems happier than she has ever been at Safe Harbor. Her eyes are bright and her personality and energy levels are very good.

One of the cutest part of our day is preparing and bringing her her mash. She LOVES it and LOVES you for bringing it to her. There is a lot of nickering and yummy yummy messy lips to show you how happy she is for the food. It is our hope that when she finds her forever home, her new people might have more turnout and grazing pastures for her to live on. She could then transition over to more of the traditional hay and grain as vitamin type of diet but for now she is really thriving on what we are doing for her.

Here are a few photos of Gracie and volunteer Melissa:

Training update and Video: Vida

Here is an update of Vida’s progress from her volunteer rider, Jolene:

Vida got her first lesson in tying yesterday. She did really good. Only pulled once and though she meant it, she came off it and was really good. While she was tied I worked on taming that wild mane of hers. She will need to work on standing for some time since she starts to be come impatient and paws the ground. She was good for the spray conditioner too.

Below is a video of their 3rd ride together and photos: