Montana drew attention from the start. A paint horse with two blue eyes and a Medicine Hat coloration certainly stands out amongst the throng of bays and chestnuts, and at times we couldn’t help but feel like an overprotective father referencing a shotgun when suitors came calling. What are your intentions with our paint horse? Montana could have been on a trailer, adopted, practically from the moment he arrived, such was the interest in him. But Montana was far from adoptable when he first came to SAFE. Nervous, distrustful of people, and with the echos of his negative past experiences still ringing loudly in his ears, it was clear from the beginning that wherever Montana ended up would have to be somewhere special.

Even as he grew more gentle, his sensitivity never disappeared. This was perhaps most apparent when, after he was going under saddle for some time, he had such a tremendous startle that it led to a pretty severe setback. We ground to a halt with Montana’s trajectory as a riding horse, taking the time to evaluate what was best for him in the long run. We knew it would take time to start (or rather, re-start) him as a riding horse, but it was clear that that time frame was expanding if anything, not the other way around.

But his training did not stop. Montana spent hours getting worked on the ground, building his confidence and preparing him for the future, whatever that might look like. In his free time, he was a phenomenal herd mate to his fellow geldings, and was a volunteer favorite. There is something special about Montana, that is for certain. The sensitivity mentioned earlier is one of his true strengths, for in interacting with him you can sense just how tuned-in he is to you, to his environment. Montana is a horse who forces you to be present, and who really reminds you how deeply horses feel and listen. Montana developed a ton of trust during his time at SAFE, and though he would still give you The Eye on occasion if you approached too fast or pet him too abruptly, he was an incredibly brave horse.

As previously mentioned, we had a number of applications come in for Montana over the years, all of which we politely declined for a number of reasons. But one application came in that caught our eye. Alycia was looking for a companion to her senior gelding, and a horse who could join in her EGALA therapy program a few times a week. Upon meeting Montana, it was clear that this was that something special we’d hoped for him from the beginning. She and her partner met Montana on his turf, so to speak, and gave him the space and time he needed to adjust to them from the very first moment they interacted. During his anxious moments, they showed that they had the understanding to manage him, and best of all, they had no desire to ride him.

On the day he left, Montana was a rockstar. He jumped right on to the trailer as if to say ‘It’s been a pleasure, but I’ve got this now.’ He immediately settled in to the new space, and made fast and easy friends with his new brother, Mike.

Congratulations, Montana — what a fantastic ending to your time at SAFE!