Jewel is finally home!

Simply the best part of our work at SAFE is seeing our horses placed in wonderful loving homes. It is what all the hours of volunteering and care is working towards. It is even more sweet when it is the placement of a long time herd member like Jewel. So many people have been a part of this mare’s life, so her adoption is a deep heartfelt celebration for us all.

Julie came to SAFE to volunteer and rekindle her love of horses. Not long after, she started to dream of a certain bright eyed little palomino paint and what it would be like to call her family. Julie understood right away that this was a long term commitment and with Jewel there would be no rushing into things. As fate would have it, we were able to allow this relationship time to grow and develop into a strong bond before moving her to her new barn. And by “move her” we actually mean we walked her to her new barn on the other side of Ferrel McWhirter Park!

There are many people who made Jewel’s life special at SAFE and the thing that is true of all of them is that no one ever gave up hope for this mare. Through all the stages of growth with us, she was supported, loved, and cherished. She has become a very sweet and confident partner and was just waiting for the right person to walk into her life. Julie is a very thoughtful owner and is ready to take on the responsibility of horse ownership. She and Jewel make a beautiful pair and even when Jewel tries to test her, Julie looks for ways to improve her own skills and communication. Sometimes it takes time to find a match but it is worth the wait to find that perfect fit.

Jewel, while we miss your sweet face at Safe Harbor, we are so excited for you and Julie. We will be seeing you on the trails soon, love!


Angel – It’s Been a Long Road…

We asked weekend Barn Manager Ian to tell us a little bit about Angel and how she is adjusting to life at Safe Harbor. Ian has a very gentle way in his relationship with horses which is the perfect energy for Angel right now. Here is what Ian had to say about this timid mare:

Angel came to us extremely shy and mistrusting of humans, and also undernourished and in need of farrier work. My first time catching her at pasture with her herd was maybe 30 min of advance and retreat games that she finally acquiesced to. Due to her weight, we have been feeding her a mash at lunch in addition to her morning and evening feeds. To feed her, we must catch her and lead her outside of her pasture to keep her herd-mates from sampling the delicious grain. This little ritual of catching for grain has helped her immensely.

In addition to associating being caught with being fed, I have been very, very slowly and gently working on handling her and accustoming her to human touch. She is still very touchy around her hindquarters, especially from the stifle downward. However, after a couple months of this ritual, I can now touch her anywhere from shoulder to stifle without too much trouble. We are still taking this slow, rebuilding trust, but it is showing positive results in other areas. She is now being easier to catch and handle by other volunteers, as I now use any opportunity for other volunteers to catch her to accustom her to being handled by other people. She is coming along in great leaps and strides, but still has a long way to go. Compared to some horses who need more structure and support, Angel needs quiet love and someone with the patience to keep at her trouble spots for as long as it takes for her to have her process with it.

Training Update: Cosmo

We are always so pleasantly surprised when a nice horse like Cosmo comes into Safe Harbor. He is gentle to handle and he takes everything we ask of him in stride. Joel put a first ride on him for us in the September and while things went well there were a few training holes that we felt Joel could help Cosmo through. So he went for a mini retraining visit to Ellensburg with Joel for a few weeks.

I was able to go over and spend a few days at Joel’s to get to know Cosmo as a riding horse before bringing him home. He was just a doll and pretty easy to get along with as a riding partner. The biggest issue was making sure he didn’t get dull to the leg and that we were careful asking him to back up. He was pretty “stuck” backing and this could be from the use of harsh bits in his past. Now with proper riding and understanding he is able to back without panic or fear. He is a dream to work with and a very kind boy.

At home we were able to let many of the volunteer riders handle and ride him due to his gentle nature. There was already a line of applications to meet him on his return so over the next few weeks we had quite a few showings. He was a start for everyone which made the choice to pick him the best home fall onto our adoption committee’s shoulders. After a number of return visits and rides, a wonderful family was selected and he has gone home with them on trial. We hope very much to be announcing his successful adoption after the trial period ends. What better thing than an adoption gift for the holidays!?!

A new life, a new name, for Ruger

When one of SAFE’s Board of Directors puts in an adoption application, we know it’s going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity for the lucky horse! Barbara came to SAFE to volunteer as a chore volunteer and quickly shared her gifts as a powerhouse organizer and fundraiser. She told our Volunteer Manager, Jane, in her orientation interview that she had all the horses she needed so she would NOT be adopting a horse from SAFE in the future. Much to all of our surprise, Barbara fell madly in love with Ruger…and where there is a will, there is a way!

We had such a big outpouring of interest from the reining community when we first brought Ruger into SAFE but that dried up when people realized he could not be the riding horse they were looking for. Luckily Barbara sees her relationship with horses in a much different light. For her the horse always comes first and their happiness and comfort is number one priority. She is very content with long walks in the park and loving the companionship of this gentle soul. It was not just a perfect match for Ruger but the life and respect he so much deserves for the remainder of his years.

To say we are overjoyed at this adoption is a major understatement. This is the stuff real love and kindness is all about. Ruger not only has a new life but a lovely new name “Koa”. Barbara said: “It means strength and courage in Hawaiian. Which is something this dear boy has sure showed us.” We couldn’t be more hopeful for Koa’s new life and are happy to announce he has made his way home to a very loving family and friends!

Thank you Jessica Farren for taking these lovely photos of Barbara and Koa!

A Perfect Match for Sierra

Nothing delights us more than to write these types of announcements and this one is very near and dear to our hearts. Donna came to SAFE like many other people do…by filling out the application for a horse with a pretty picture. After talking with her on the phone Terry knew there was a very good chance that Sierra would fit the bill for Donna. But there was one problem…Sierra had just barely been started under saddle! She would need a few more weeks in training and then a few more weeks before Donna could ride her. Luckily Donna trusted us and was open to the idea of waiting until Sierra was ready.

Donna started volunteering at SAFE weeks before Sierra came home from training! She helped Terry with other horses and we talked a lot about green horses and how she needed to prepare for Sierra. When Sierra came home Donna visited her four times a week. She helped groom her, do ground work with her, and began riding her. She was happy to start slow at the walk and before long she was riding at all the gaits. This gave the pair a great chance to bond before leaving SAFE and a little more time for Sierra to get confirmed under saddle and even out on the trails!

There is so much we love about this pair and we look forward to many great updates on their journey together. Donna had this to say about working with SAFE and adopting Sierra: “I want to thank you all so very much for all of your support during my time there these past 3 months getting to know more about Sierra and about SAFE! You have all been so helpful and friendly and I feel extremely grateful for all you have done for me. A special thanks to Terry for all you have taught me and your patience and very calming, always consistent presence as I muddled through my many hours of learning and re-learning. You are the absolute best!”

Little Sierra is settling in well and beginning to make friends with her new family. She is doing some vocalizing (surprise) and has made many new people friends as they go to pet her to let her know she is OK. (She may be hollering because she has learned that when she does, she gets lots of petting!) We all know that Sierra can easily wrap you around her little hoof with those big sweet eyes. Be warned Donna, she is a charmer! All our love and hope for you both on the wonderful adventure ahead!

Here are some fun photos of Sierra and Donna at the Joel Conner Clinic. This was her first days back at SAFE and Donna’s first ride on her.

Clinic & Health Update: Anderson

Finally, the wet weather is here and Anderson’s cough has all but gone away! He is definitely a Northwest boy who likes wet air that is dry and certainly not smoky! We are going to lower his dose of prednisolone to try to wean him off of it. There is a chance he will need to stay on a low dose and increase it when during dry weather or poor air quality. The easiest way to understand what he has is if you know anyone who suffers from asthma. While it is not exactly the same, he will most likely get flair ups of different degrees and need medication to help him through the episodes. An easy fix and otherwise he remains a very content, healthy and sound horse.

Anderson continues to be a star for riding and trail work. He is consistently improving in both his skill and attitude around riding. We had a wonderful experience at the end of the summer at the Ricky Quinn clinic in Ellensburg. Ricky travels the US and Internationally teaching horsemanship and sharing his study of his study of the teachings of Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, and Buck Brannaman. It was a great learning opportunity for both Anderson and myself. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to ride a SAFE horse in one of Ricky’s clinics. We spent the mornings working on horsemanship and the afternoons putting those skills to work sorting cattle and swinging the rope.

Anderson and Ben sorting cattle at the Ricky Quinn Clinic

Anderson exceeded every expectation I could imagine during this long weekend. He was a champ loading, settling in and very well behaved in the new surroundings. The weather was not so pleasant with high winds but even with things blowing about, he remained connected to me and feeling of my energy. Ricky was very helpful in showing where a solid foundation can be built upon to ultimately taking the horse into one hand and working cattle. While I am not on a path to be a rancher, I am very interested in the extreme lightness of the horses worked in this style of horsemanship. They are very engaged in the hind quarters, in self carriage and light to the aids, all while remaining relaxed in their dispositions.

There were many things done to help ready the horses for introduction of the cows and each step helped make the experience easy and safe. We learned to follow behind a moving dummy both pulled by another horse and a gator as well as the importance of our positioning around the livestock. It took Anderson just a few minutes to settle into the work and soon we were sorting the cows and literally walking right through the small herd. He was drawn to their life and was interested in moving them. By the last day one of the other participants jokingly commented that Anderson was no longer a rescue Arabian but looked as comfortable as an old ranch horse. It meant the world to me to hear these words. Andy has truly come so far and whatever the future holds for him, I am confident the foundation SAFE has provided him will carry him into a very happy life.

At the start of each day Terry helping Jennifer & Anderson

A few weeks ago Joel Conner came out to SAFE for the last clinic of the year. I was very pleased to allow one of our young volunteers the opportunity to ride Anderson in the clinic. Not know exactly what he may do with her in a clinic setting I was very cautious and stayed close as they both settled into the class. Again, as always, he surpassed all expectation and was a perfect gentleman for Jennifer. Here is what she had to say about her rides on Andy:

Jennifer & Anderson

“I really enjoyed riding Anderson in Joel’s clinic. He was extremely patient with me while I was learning to ride and trying to figure out what I was asking from him. He was quiet and calm and made it very easy to learn on him. During the entire clinic he was responsive to me even with my slightest move he knew how to react. I felt very safe with him and knew he was a horse that could be trusted. I learned a lot with him and can’t wait for the next clinic!”

Anderson is READY for his new life to begin. He still requires a fairly good rider or at least one willing to learn how to ride him without tight legs and heavy hands. He is a great companion out in the field with the other geldings and we have been able to go on quite a few solo trail rides. He will require someone come to SAFE a few times to get to know him and I am excited to find the right person to hand him over too. He is a loving boy and I know a very special person will find him soon!

Training Update: Renee

We are delighted to have Renee home from training with a glowing report! Joel really enjoyed getting to know this mare and said she has a ton of heart and try. You can see many changes in her overall relaxation upon her return to SHS. Now that she has been equipped with a few more tools to help her find peace under saddle, we have high hopes she will make the right adopter a great match. She is a very sensitive and smart girl so riding her is like driving a fast car: with just a little effort it is zooming along the road. Joel told me to think about riding her “lazy” and that attitude has helped me get used to her.

I rode her both days in the clinic and she did very well with the large group of horses and lots of things going on around her. I warmed her up each day in the round pen, getting her to move out comfortably in the walk, trot and lope before getting on and asking her to do the same with minimal contact. She relaxes into three lovely gaits and is very smooth to ride. Her canter looks like it might be bouncy but is by far her nicest gait right now. Very even!

She is ready to show to adopters and we will continue to work her at SAFE and eventually take her out on the trails. I think she is just a doll and her spirit is very young which makes me hopeful that she has many more years of riding companionship ahead of her. We are now accepting applications for her. Please fill out an application online or email with any question.


Getting to Know Ruach

We are getting to know this tall dark and handsome fellow named Ruach. He has been ridden previously but it has been a number of years since dusting off the saddle for a ride. Dr. Fleck came out to do a dental float and vaccinate him. We have slowly added a mash of senior feed and Haystack, which is a combination of hay pellets, beet pulp and rice bran. He is gaining weight and looking healthier every day.

Ru has pretty flat soles, but we hope that with proper farrier care we can avoid putting shoes on him. But like many Thoroughbreds, there is a chance he will be more comfortable with at least front shoes on. We were able to saddle him up without any trouble and Joel Conner helped us put our first rides on him. Unfortunately he is showing some lameness in his left hind but with a few days of rest and bute he looked better. We had a brief exam by Dr. Fleck who instructed us to continue to work him and have him come back if the lameness increases. It is most likely in his hocks so we will do x-rays and consider treatment options. He is a gentle riding horse with a lot of years left in him so a little TLC can go a long way to making him comfortable and suitable for pleasure rides.

He is currently on hold as we determine his abilities as a riding horse and continue to get him up to weight. He is a very good boy and we are excited to have him at SAFE and learning more about him.

Getting to Know Valencia

The new sweetheart of the barn is Miss Valencia! She has been a doll from the moment we picked her up and continues to show a very nice character with lots of love to give. She and Ru have begun the process of separation and while change is hard we are careful to take things slow and allow the two herd mates to accept times when the other is not right by their side. Part of this process has been to bring them into separate stalls overnight and they both are doing very well with this transition. They were placed in stalls directly across from each other so they can see the other and relax. They have been fine with the other horses and Valencia has even made a few passes for Ben’s attention so there is hope she will find other loves. 😉

When Valencia came into SAFE, she was sore on her front left so we had Dr. Fleck come out and evaluate and get some x-rays. We were very happy to discover that everything looked good and there was no rotation or changes in her navicular bone. Dr. Fleck said she could have a mild case of pedal osteitis which is the inflammation in the pedal bone and that shoes with pads would be very helpful. We also chose to give her an injection of Osphos which will help with any inflammation that maybe in her hooves. Both treatments worked brilliantly and we have been able to start working her without any signs of pain.

While Joel Conner was at SAFE a few weeks ago, he helped us put our first rides on her. She has had a considerable amount of time off and you never know how they will react to riding when old “demands” might come to light. Luckily everything went very smoothly and she was able to walk trot and lope with little trouble. She is a bit “cinchy” but with a bit of time and work on accepting the cinch, that should all but go away. Our biggest hurdle will be to separate her and Ru. As I have mentioned we are doing this gradually. Right now, Casey and I are riding them both in the round pen and helping them feel peace with us and away from each other. We will continue in here until they are both going quietly in there and away from each other and then we will move them into the arena and continue the work in there.
Valencia will need some time still to strengthen into riding condition but we are confident that she will make a pleasant riding companion and a gentle friend.

My best guess is that she will be available to show to adopters at the first of the year and we will be happy to begin the process of finding her a great new family. Please email with any questions regarding Valencia or the adoption process. She is a very good mare who is likely to fit many types of riders, including beginners and young adults.

Tasara Joins the Riding Horses!

From Terry:

Sweet little Tasara is on her way to becoming a fun riding horse! I have been working with her for some time, getting her ready to be ridden. Due to her gentle disposition, we’ve been able to let other volunteers handle her too and do some groundwork with her along the way. On Friday before the Joel Conner clinic, we asked Joel to put the first ride on her. If she did well, the goal was to have me up on her before the end of the weekend and to be able to keep her at home and work her through the green rides myself. We wanted to do this for a few reasons: her small size, her willingness to work with and how safe she has been to work around. Everything went very well and while there are a few things I need to work on with her, I was able to ride on Sunday! We decided to keep her at SHS and I will continue to train her.

During the groundwork sessions in the morning, she was worked by SAFE volunteer Jennifer, who is the wise old age of 13! I only remark about her age because it not only says a lot about this very responsible and bright young lady but also how wonderful a mare Tasara is to handle. They did splendidly together and I am very proud of both of them! Here is what Jennifer had to say about working with Tasara:

I had a lot of fun working with Tasara in the groundwork sessions with Joel. She became very responsive after she warmed up to her surroundings in the arena. She was easy going and a pleasure to work with, as well as to learn from. I could easily fix what we needed to work on and she got a hang of new skills very quickly. She has improved quite a bit from the last clinic in September! She is definitely understanding what is being asked from her. I had a lot of fun working with her and can’t wait to see how she continues to improve!

Here are some photos of our 1st ride together: