Congratulations to our December Volunteer of the Month, Kirsten Lints! Kirsten has been sharing her time, hard work and love with our horses for almost 3 years now! She started on a morning chore shift and moved into the role of Friday Barn Assist. As well, Kirsten is part of the horsemanship team, where she dedicates many hours to not only helping horses like Bandit, but showing up with an eagerness to learn and grow, so she can continue to help the horses of SAFE! You always know it’s going to be a great day when you see Kirsten at the barn, with her friendly smile, kind heart and can do attitude. We are so lucky for all the time and care that Kirsten shares with us here at SAFE! Thank you so much, Kirsten, for all of your generosity and dedication, to help improve the lives of rescued horses! Learn more about Kirsten below.

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? 

When I was tiny, I would beg my Dad to take me out to do chores and let me sit on the horses.  If there wasn’t a horse nearby, he would set me on a cow while it ate.  From then on, cows just didn’t cut it and it had to be horses!  Our family and generations before us have always had horses and farmed with them in Davenport so the knowledge of hoof trimming, colt starting and putting up hay was just part of life.  Riding in the hills around the river and swimming with the horses in the summer made up my younger-self memories.  My 3 horses, that moved with us to Duvall, entered my life in 8th grade and were with me for 30+ years. This is the first time that I’ve not owned horses, which is why I’m so grateful to have found SAFE. 

I’ve recently started leasing and riding Benny in Duvall, who just happens to be the first horse that was born at SAFE.  Benny and owner Eunice have been the entry back into a relationship of riding horses but more importantly a friendship! Cherished conversations and rides together are further reminders of my commitment that sharing horses with others is such a gift and that my life has been and always will include this element.  

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE?

 When I hear the horsemanship lessons, it is like I’m hearing my Dad’s voice explaining the how to’s again; cinching for the first time, helping a young horse by allowing it to move rather than stand still, end on a good note, etc.  It is the chance to help the horses by working with them that gives me the most pleasure.  To see Bandit walk, unbothered, into the trailer on the first try still has me beaming for her.  She has continued to impress me by walking across a tarp, getting used to a flag – I could go on and on!  I’m a big fan and I share as much as I can before they all start glazing over. The learning and doing are my jam. Groundwork skills are new to me and Bandit and Bijou at SAFE have been incredibly patient with my learning curve.  I’m hopeful that their elder-bodies benefit from working with changing eyes, bending and balance to create a deeper sense of trust and a newfound sense of security with greater agility. 

 Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? 

 Bandit reminds me of my Arab horse Tilly in a lot of ways.  Her stoic façade was quite impressive and to get her to warm and search and feel rewarded by her efforts has been an endearing path together.  To help her body via groundwork to bend and stretch in ways that life in a stall and paddock life don’t provide is incredibly rewarding.  To know that she has more confidence through our work together makes me want to learn more.  Working with horses is an intellectual and emotional experience for me.  I enjoy being with horses (and people) right where they are. Then we work forward together when the time is right. Working and handling the horses at SAFE has filled a large void for which I’m extremely thankful to the staff, volunteers and all the pieces that support the horses and those that love them as much as I do. 

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? 

 I’m outside and away from any device as much as possible.  As a landscape designer and owning my own business, it is the creativity to build systems that makes the desk work tolerable. And my other volunteer efforts keep me engaged by working forward for a cause.  My favorite days are outside – rain or shine or snow.  My husband and I are on the last tasks of building our own home and improving the pig run.  My beef cows, flock of chickens and ducks and kitties need treats and time together.  Fingers crossed on building a barn next!  Time away from our farm includes backpacking, mountaineering, and skiing.  Our 2 college aged kids enjoy the water, so rafting and boating most recently have been added.

 Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? 

 My family and friends now routinely ask me about SAFE and the horses that I’m working which means a lot to me.  My husband, Kiva, gets the biggest thanks though because he wasn’t a farm guy, but he sure does like using the tractor!  Not only does he feed the cows and put the kitties in at night, he also has a huge heart to volunteer at SAFE with me occasionally and enjoys chatting with me about new horsemanship lessons I’ve learned.  He even asked if I get a free horse with this award!  Our kids, Judah and Sadie, also are enthusiastic about Mom’s adventures at SAFE and Sadie has volunteered with me for over a year giving us tons of opportunities to laugh and make memories together.