Congratulations to our May Volunteer of the Month, Vanessa Bassett! Vanessa began volunteering at SAFE in October 2022, just as the cold, rainy, and muddy season started. Since then, she has been a ray of sunshine on cloudy days here at the farm. Vanessa is a kind-hearted individual with an immense passion for helping others. She is always eager to lend a hand wherever needed and demonstrates a strong commitment to learning so she can better serve the horses of SAFE. We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have Vanessa as part of our community. Thank you, Vanessa, for your unwavering dedication, love, and hard work. Your selfless contributions make a significant difference in the lives of our horses every day! Learn more about Vanessa below!

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

I’ve loved horses since I was a little kid. Obsessed with the strong, silky, Black Stallion of the film series; the beautiful paint horses’s in my dad’s cowboy movies and tv shows (I named my pet mouse Scout after Tonto’s horse); and the draft horses and Clydesdale’s at the county fair. But I didn’t get much actual horse time beyond the occasional week at summer camp or family vacation. After college I spent 15 years working in the fashion industry in New York, far away from hay drops and mucking out stalls! In my early 30s I moved to rural Ireland, to my then partner’s home village, where my inner horse-girl finally got a taste of the farm life she’d always dreamed of! We helped care for an elderly neighbors heard of 8, including 2 foals that were born while I was there. I had my first equine rescue experience when i discovered a severely neglected Jack donkey in the village and convinced the scary old owner to sell him to me. “Charlie” and I fell madly in love with each other and he was my constant companion on the farm. His soft, velvet chin, quirky personality and joyful he-haws were the absolute best, and I’ve had a thing for donkeys ever since.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE?

There are so many things I love about SAFE.  At the top of my list is rescue and rehabilitation mission, and getting to witness the incredible transformation the horses go through from when they first arrive to being ready for adoption. It fills my heart to play a small part in their journey toward a happy forever home. I’ve learned so much from the horses, from the staff and other volunteers, and I continue to learn new things every day at the barn. No two days are ever the same! I love the style of horsemanship that SAFE uses, and really appreciate the opportunity to audit the Joel clinics and observe the senior staff work with the horses. I love my BA shifts and getting to gain more knowledge and confidence with leading and supporting the horses. The staff have been so generous with their knowledge and guidance. I love being outside, doing physical work, and the opportunity to connect with a great group of humans. I’ve made some wonderful connections, both human and equine, and being at SAFE is always the best part of my week.


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

I have a huge crush on Blanche. I feel a connection, a natural chemistry and understanding with her that is really special. Her majestic, beauty and sweet, soulful energy got me right away. We had a “moment” one day that really sealed the deal for me and I’ve felt a kinship with her ever since. She feels so wise to me and I know I will learn a lot from her.


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

I’ve taken a few years off from clothing design, going back to school for nutrition, and doing an apprenticeship in wildcrafting and herbal medicine. I still love playing with clothes, and all things arts and culture and I’m just starting to aim towards a return to creative industry work. On the daily, I’m hanging out with my cats, my partner Scott and my family that live in the area. I love spending time outdoors, gardening and hiking and generally basking in nature. I have tons of wildlife in my backyard and feed the squirrels, birds and raccoons every morning. I love to read, and cook and travel. Always looking for something to learn, a new adventure and more opportunities for connection.
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 partner, Scott has been a huge support for my time at the barn. He’s been holding down the fort while I’ve worked through some health challenges and career change, which has allowed me the space to do fulfilling volunteer work. He has encouraged me to step up for new opportunities at the barn and cooked dinner on my barn days so that I could sit down and ice after my shift. I’m so grateful for his support!