breed: 1995 chestnut Thoroughbred gelding
registered name: Intercopilot
type of rescue: owner surrender
intake date: 12/6/2015
adoption date: 8/15/2016
length of time with SAFE: 8 months
Anakin was discovered by a resident of Winlock WA in an emaciated condition in Dec 2015. The story of his rescue is an incredible tale, made even more remarkable by the discovery of his background. Anakin spent 12 years working at the Equine Research Center at Cal Poly Pomona. There he participated in numerous studies regarding locomotion, biomechanics, physiology, and high altitude. When the ERC shut down in 2010 following the death of its founder and director, Anakin was taken home by one of the research students, who kept him as a dressage horse. There is a gap in his story after that, and we currently have no concrete information as to how he ended up starved in Washington state.
Anakin came to SAFE with a Body Condition Score of less than 1. He spent two weeks under the care of Dr Hannah Mueller, followed by a month at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital where he could be helped to his feet with a hoist and sling. He was released from the hospital into SAFE’s care on Jan 20, and his health has continued to improve. Despite his terrible condition, Anakin is remarkably bright, friendly, and kind. This horse clearly wanted to survive. It took nearly four months to return him to good weight and health, but the horse that we met back in December is gone, and a shining, handsome chestnut gelding has taken his place. Anakin’s recovery was made possible by the individuals who donated specifically to his care, the equine health professionals who worked tireless for his survival, and all of the SAFE volunteers who cared for him night and day. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who took this horse into their hearts and guided him back to life.
A Home for Every Horse Visits Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE)
published June 28, 2016
written by Mariah Hammerschmidt
In mid-June, A Home for Every Horse (AHFEH) and AIM Studios traveled to Woodinville, Washington to visit Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE). This is the first in our series of rescue visits to highlight all of the hard work rescues are doing inside of the Equine industry. SAFE is a rescue dedicated to saving horses from dire situations and rehabilitating them, so they can find forever homes. SAFE has a huge focus on the community around the rescue, without the community SAFE would not be able to find, rehabilitate and place as many horses.
While in Washington, A Home for Every Horse representative Mariah Hammerschmidt was met by Purina’s Amy Margolin and Gina Fresquez to help build the already thriving feed program at SAFE. A comprehensive feed program is extremely important for equine rescues, as horses come in from many stages of life and many different situations. Luckily, Purina is here to help, by providing rescues with the feed they need to help horses.
During AHFEH’s visit to SAFE we had the opportunity to meet a horse named Anakin. Anakin spent twelve years of his life working in the Equine Research lab at Cal Poly Pomona, where he participated in studies on biomechanics, locomotion and the effects of high altitude. After the program was shut down in 2010, Anakin found a new home. Unfortunately, he was found six years later starving in a field in Washington State. To get Anakin to SAFE, he had to be aided with a hoist and sling, as he could no longer stand. Anakin showed his strength and fight as many weeks later he began to stand on his own. He eventually made a full recovery. During AHFEH’s visit, Anakin’s story came full circle and was adopted. He will live out the rest of his days being a companion horse with acres of green pasture, joining other companion-only horses that his new home had adopted.
A Home for Every Horse plans on visiting rescues throughout the year to bring awareness to the work they do every day: helping find forever homes for the over 170,000 unwanted horses. As part of the recognition of the hard and compassionate work done by SAFE, Purina helped educate SAFE about proper nutrition for horses in both rehabilitation stages, as well as maintenance. Other sponsors of A Home for Every Horse presented the rescue with some horse-care gifts. This includes a Tractor Supply Company gift card, discounts on Electrobraid Fencing, a new WeatherBeeta blanket and twelve tubes of Zoetis Strongid paste. Each sponsor is key in assisting SAFE with rescuing more horses and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for those horses still at the rescue.
If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.
This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter. Here’s how it works: • Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.
• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.
• Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.
If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467‑7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.
We had the amazing good fortune to visit some old friends recently: Anakin, Kai, Einstein, and the big hoss Strider. All four boys are living the good life in their neighboring adoptive homes. Thank you so much to Barb and Michel for inviting us over! Can’t wait til next time!
Thank you to Lisa Garr for the photos!
An update on Anakin from his new home! Thank you, Barb!!!
You will be pleased to know that our lovely Chestnut boy has taken up yoga (stealing a page from Kai’s playbook), he’s doing downward dog before turnout 🙂
He’s also decided to challenge Kai from across the fence. The past couple of mornings have been really funny, with Anakin rearing up a bit, tossing his head and pawing at the ground. Kai is not quite sure what to make of this so he runs back and forth along the fence with Anakin, both doing small bucks and rears along the way… boys!
Einstein always says good morning to Anakin, and Michel and I are looking forward to turning them out together in the future. Strider likes to play with Anakin across the fence, they tend to stay pretty close when in adjacent pastures. Anakin is enjoying being a horse, that’s for sure!
He’s off of the alfalfa, on orchard grass and doing really well, he’s also got lots of dapples that can be seen in the sunshine. He likes to nap outside, get a good roll in the dirt first thing in the morning, and check to make sure all of his pals are where they’re supposed to be, he’s settled right in.
Here’s a lovely update on Anakin in his new home!
I thought while I had a moment I’d catch you up on how Anakin is doing.
He’s not squealing as much, that’s for sure! Kai and Einstein stop for a sniff and a greeting every morning before they’re turned out, Kai gives a little air kick with his hind that only I can see (he’s letting me know that he’s still my number one). Even Strider stops by in the evening before heading out for the night. All are adjusting well to each other as Anakin gets used to the routine.
Ani gets stall/barn/paddock access at night as he wanted to be inside at first. I’m finding that he’s more often than not, laying down in the soft dirt outside (body prints as evidence) to sleep, I think it’s because it’s been cooler there than in the barn on the warm days. The good news is that he’s comfortable enough to be outside by himself (others in the pastures).
He can hear me coming to the barn as I have to walk on the gravel, so by the time I round the corner I can just make him out with his ears up, knowing that I’ll be serving breakfast in pretty short order. He nickers when I bring the feed pans around! He’s an absolute dream to work with when I do grooming prior to turnout. He’s also very curious, he watches me do my work and he follows me around when I’m filling waters, etc. This one has a lot between the ears, that’s for sure.
I think he’s pretty happy here at SAFE South, people are finding out that he’s here and I’ve been getting a lot of really nice email. He’s a rock star, that’s for sure. My neighbors are enjoying him as well, they comment all the time about his beautiful coat and how nice he is.
Oh, food in/poop out functions totally normal!
Will send pictures as soon as I get a moment to take some 🙂
We said a smiling and tearful goodbye to our dear friend Anakin today as he loaded into our trailer and headed south to his new home. Anakin has been adopted by Barb F, who you may recognize as Kai’s adopter as well. Anakin will be spending the rest of his days at what we like to call “SAFE South,” not only the home of Anakin, but the farm next door to where Einstein, Skye, and Strider live. It’s truly a horse heaven, and we know without the shadow of a doubt that Anakin will be loved, cherished, and cared for by Barb. We couldn’t be happier for them.
Saying goodbye is tough, but considering how many times we feared for Anakin’s survival, it is a huge victory to be saying goodbye to him as he heads off to his adoptive home. We will all miss the big chestnut gelding, but for us, it means a lot that he’s going to the home of someone we consider part of the family. In the days to come, we will have updates, comments, and photos to share. But for today, there is a message that Anakin would want us to pass along:
Anakin’s story was compelling in so many ways, and he brought a lot of people to SAFE. Together we cared for him and together we watched him grow healthy and strong. Today, the fairy tale ending to Anakin’s story was written…but for other horses, there is no end in sight. If Anakin brought you to SAFE or strengthened your bond with this organization…please remember that our work isn’t over. There are countless horses who need rescue, rehabilitation, retraining, and rehoming…things that SAFE can provide if your support continues to be there.
Thanks to KOMO-TV and other media outlets, Anakin’s story played out in public, but most of what SAFE does happens quietly behind the scenes. With horses who aren’t considered “newsworthy” to the media, horses who were never famous. In fact some of the work that SAFE does is never made public, in order to protect the privacy of the people involved. Community outreach work, including gelding and euthanization assistance, is done without recognition or fanfare, and there are no news stories to spread the word and let the public know how much their help is needed.
So if Anakin brought you into the wild world of horse rescue, we sincerely hope that your work is far from finished. Today, we said a happy goodbye to a horse that we loved…tomorrow, we carry on falling in love, saving lives, and crafting more goodbyes. Please continue to be part of this mission. Our work is far from finished.
After six months in our care, we’re reaching the final stages of Anakin’s rehabilitation. Dr. McCracken came out Monday to do a dental float and give him his vaccines. Unsurprisingly, Anakin does not have the world’s greatest teeth…there was bad ulceration but he does have some significant tooth loss in the very first lower teeth on both sides. Subsequently, the corresponding top teeth had some extra length and sharp edges that needed to be taken down. He also has some gaps between some of his upper teeth so Dr. McCracken worked on those areas in order to keep food from getting packed in up there.(She also suggested flushing that side with water from time to time to help clear out hay that gets stuck.) Because there was a fair bit of work that needed to be done, Dr McCracken was conservative this time, so Anakin will need another dental in six months for more adjustments. Anakin was super for his float and his shots. He’s now up to date on all his vaccines.
Finally, she examined the suture site from his eye removal, and told us that it looks great. His incision is fully healed and the prosthetic seems to be working out fine for him. He’s continued to do well with the complete loss of that eye. There was some adjustments that he had to make, because he probably did see some degree of light and shadow before it was removed. Initially he bumped into things a little bit, but within a few days of his surgery, he seemed to regain his spacial awareness. Now you wouldn’t know he was a one-eyed horse until you saw that his right eye remains permanently closed.
All in all, Anakin’s vet feels he’s extremely healthy and ready for to move on to the next phase of his life: adoption.
Yes, we are ready to officially offer Anakin for adoption. We are looking for a companion home where he can live out the rest of his life in comfort and safety, with plenty to eat, a pasture to roam, and a warm, dry stall to sleep in. He should have a friend or two to spend time with, maybe another older gelding? He’s going to make someone a wonderful friend. We’ve already received some adoption applications for this horse, and it is our intention that he remains in Western Washington where we can continue to visit him on a regular basis. It’s not going to be easy to say farewell to this horse, but when he heads to his new home, it will open up space for another horse that needs our help, and you know that Anakin would approve of that!
We have good news to share: Anakin had his eye surgery done last Thursday and it was a complete success. He spent the night after the surgery at Rainland Farm Equine Clinic so Dr McCracken could watch over him following the procedure, and he was released into our care the next day. When we came to pick him up, he was waiting in his stall with his head neatly bandaged, and he seemed so relieved to see us. He pressed his nose up against the stall door so we could touch him, and gave a couple big sighs. He is so fond of his people.
On Monday, Dr McCracken came out to change his bandages, and everything looks good. He’s still pretty swollen, but the incision is clean and healing nicely. He doesn’t seem to be having much trouble navigating without the eye…which is what we expected since he was nearly blind in it already. He seems cheerful and comfortable, and that was the outcome we were hoping for.
Another month has flown by and the skelatal horse we met back in December is becoming more and more of a memory. Anakin has now put on nearly 200 pounds since his rescue, and he is starting to glow with renewed health and vitality. He’s enjoying more and more turnout time, which now includes limited pasture time out on grass! In true Anakin style, our boy celebrated this milestone with a lovely roll in the grass, leapt into the air, then proceeded to get straight to grazing. It’s such a joy to see him acting like a normal horse, enjoying the little things in life, and leaving his past behind. His attitude remains cheerful, and he continues to clean up his dinner plate like a good boy. We’d like to see about another hundred pounds on his frame, and it looks like Anakin will happily comply with our wishes.
In a previous update, we mentioned that Anakin was diagnosed with glaucoma in his left eye, and that we were treating it with drops under the direction of an equine ophthalmologist. Sadly Anakin’s eye is not responding to treatment. His vets have concluded that he has little to no vision remaining in that eye, and that our best course of action, for Anakin’s comfort, would be to have the eye removed surgically.
It seems so unfair after all this horse has been through to be faced with partial blindness and surgery. But losing an eye, while it seems traumatic to us humans, is often not such a bad thing in a horse like Anakin. For one thing, animals tend to adapt very quickly to a loss in vision. In Anakin’s case, he can no longer see much of anything with his left eye, and again, in true Anakin style, he’s handling this with grace. He uses his other senses to monitor his surroundings, and as long as we don’t sneak up suddenly on his blind side, he remains calm and secure.
So why does the eye need to be removed? Pressure has been building up in his eye for some time now. Measuring that pressure was what alerted us to the fact that something was wrong. We’ve continued to monitor the pressure, and while we don’t feel that Anakin is in pain now, it’s only a matter of time before it starts to become really uncomfortable for him. So the kindest thing we can do for him is to remove the eye. It’s a fairly simple surgery and if all goes well, he’ll be home the very next day. He’ll need a lot of care following the procedure, but if there’s one thing we’re good at here at SAFE, it’s caring for Anakin.
After he’s recovered from this setback, he will look different. But here’s the thing: Anakin doesn’t care what he looks like! He considers himself the handsomest boy in the barn, and that opinion will never change. The loss of an eye will never diminish the beauty of this horse. He will be fitted with a prosthetic so for the most part, it will just look as if his eye is closed. A perpetual wink? Now that’s true Anakin style.
The surgery will likely take place in the next few weeks. With the discounts that we receive from our veterinarian, the surgery will cost approximately $1,500. We welcome donations to help offset the cost of this surgery. Donations from Anakin’s friends have already covered about half the funds needed to pay for the surgery, so we’re in great shape to get our boy the care he needs. We’ll be sure to keep everyone updated.
Although Ani is facing this sad setback, it is a tremendous relief that he will be facing it with all so many people in his corner. He’s genuinely touched a lot of hearts.
Yesterday was another big day for Anakin! Following his eye doctor appointment and a sponge bath, he got to go out into his run for the first time ever! His exercise has been strictly controlled in order to keep him from burning too many calories, but the racehorse in Anakin has been itching to get out. Dr Mollat gave us the go-ahead today to let him outside during the day, provided he stays relatively calm. Expressions of joy are permitted and encouraged!
While Anakin’s weight has steadily been improving since his rescue in early December, his left eye has become more and more cloudy. The pressure in the eye has been monitored by his veterinarians, and it was recommended that we have him examined by an equine eye specialist. Yesterday’s appointment confirmed what we had feared: it’s glaucoma. It’s hard to know what caused it: it could be the result of trauma, it could be a genetic condition, or it could be late-stage uveitis, a disease that causes inflammation of the uveal tract of the eye. Whatever the cause, Anakin needs to be treated in order to reduce the pressure in his eye. That means two types of eyedrops, two times a day. He’ll be rechecked in about three weeks, and if the pressure has not reduced, the drops can be increased to three or four times a day.
This diagnosis is not good news, and there are some realities that we need to be prepared for. It is quite possible that he may lose complete vision in that eye. There is also a possibility that if the pressure cannot be managed with drops, his eye may need to be removed. For the moment, we have a course of treatment to follow, and that is what we are going to focus on right now. We’ll have an update in about three weeks.
And seeing as how everyone’s “standing up wishes” worked so well…if you’d like to send some soothing eye wishes in Anakin’s direction, it couldn’t hurt.
After donations, sick horse Anakin making steps towards recovery
Originally published February 2, 2016
By Jessica Lee, Seattle Times staff reporter
The story of Thoroughbred Anakin, found neglected in Western Washington in December, spread across the country last month, striking a chord with horse lovers who now can take credit for his recovery.
The 20-year-old gelding was found several hundred pounds underweight, following a celebrated career in equine research years ago at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, or Cal Poly Pomona. The Woodinville horse-rescue nonprofit, Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE), stepped in to care for him, and now caregivers say he’s making significant progress toward health.
Since Anakin’s story surfaced, SAFE Executive Director Bonnie Hammond said donors from Florida to the Midwest came forward to help his cause, providing a little more than $11,000 to help cover veterinary expenses.
“His spirit and his will to live really captures people,” she said. “We are so grateful to the people who reached out and donated because it made it possible to give Anakin the vet care he needed and save his life.”
He stayed at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish County until Jan. 20, when veterinarians deemed him healthy enough to return to SAFE. At the hospital, caregivers focused intensely on getting him to stand on his own, a feat Hammond said he has since conquered.
“He still appears very thin, but he’s improving,” Hammond said. “His personality is starting to come out — he’s starting to have a lot more energy — and he has started to express himself with little bucks and jumps.”
Though Anakin has gained 100 pounds since being found, he still has at least 200 more to go before reaching full weight, Hammond said. Caregivers are giving him food four times a day, medication and walks, expecting him to reach full recovery in about four months, she said.
And once he is there, a home seeking a pasture horse, not one for riding or working, will be able to adopt him, Hammond said.
“We’re hoping to show the world another healthy and vibrant Anakin,” she said. “He would make a great companion.”
Anakin’s remarkable progress: ‘He’s really come a long way’
BY STEVE MCCARRON
Aired MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1ST 2016
WOODINVILLE, Wash. — A local horse that was near the brink of death in mid-December is making remarkable progress.
20-year-old Anakin was incredibly weak and thin when he was rescued from a small farm in Lewis County late last year. His hips and all of his ribs were exposed.
He’s gained about 100 pounds since then and is now able to stand up on his own, said Bonnie Hammond, Executive Director of the horse rescue group Save a Forgotten Equine (S.A.F.E.).
“The brightness, the personality is coming through,” Hammond said. “He’s showing joy for life again, and that is a wonderful, wonderful thing to see.”
Anakin spent several weeks at Cedarbrook Veterinary Care in Snohomish following his rescue. As he started to feel better, he would try to lie down on his own, Hammond said. But he was too weak to get himself back up.
“His hind legs were so weak from the starvation that he went through, that he didn’t have the strength to push his hind end up,” Hammond said.
Anakin was transferred to Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish, which has a stall with a hoist attached to the ceiling.
The hospital called Hammond every day to update her on Anakin’s status. After several weeks of care, Hammond received word from one of Anakin’s doctors that he had gotten up on his own.
“When we listened to that (voice)mail, we cheered and we cried and we were so relieved that he had gotten to that point,” Hammond said. “We were going to be able to give this horse the thing we most wanted to give him and that’s a second chance. And boy, that was a relief.”
Some of Anakin’s bones are still visible, but his progress has been remarkable, Hammond said.
“He has a couple hundred more pounds to go,” Hammond said. “We feel he’s out of the woods in terms of his stability, but he has a long way to go.”
Anakin is fed 4 meals a day. S.A.F.E. employees and volunteers have taken him on daily walks for the past 2 weeks to keep him mobile.
“It’s really been cool over the last week or so to see his attitude and personality develop a little bit more,” said S.A.F.E.‘s barn manager. “He’s gotten more comfortable with the barn.”
“He’s really come a long way in the last 7 weeks,” Hammond added.
Most of Anakin’s vet care has already eaten through the $11,000 viewers and admirers have donated for his recovery, Hammond said.
Hammond believes it’ll take at least another 4 months before Anakin is back to full strength.
He’ll get there, Hammond said. He’s already proven he has the will to survive.
“He’s gonna be a beauty,” she said.
Anakin will be available for adoption once he’s healthy. S.A.F.E. plans to keep track of his progress for the rest of his life, employees said.
Click here for more information about Save A Forgotten Equine.
We welcomed Anakin to Safe Harbor Stables on Wednesday, a long awaited homecoming for everyone at SAFE. After four weeks at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital, Anakin was released from their excellent care into ours. Finally strong enough to stand up without the aid of the hoist and sling, Anakin bid farewell to all his friends at Pilchuck and stepped into the trailer for the short journey home to SAFE.
Anakin left the hospital weighing nearly 90 pounds more than when he arrived. Now that he’s at SAFE, staff and volunteers prepare and serve him mashes and soft alfalfa at all hours of the day and night. He requires a LOT of care — in addition to the many feedings, he gets medications every eight hours, and because he’s confined to his stall when he’s not being hand walked, his stall is cleaned several times a day. Fortunately, all the volunteers are eager to help with Anakin’s recovery, so there are plenty of willing hands available to give him the care he needs.
Now that Anakin has made measurable progress down the road to good health, we’re turning our attention to some of his other needs. He was visited by our farrier a few days ago, who spent some time helping us create a treatment plan for Anakin’s right front hoof which is badly abscessed from lack of care. To prevent infection and aid with healing, Anakin gets twice daily pedicures that involve soaking, medicating, and wrapping the effected hoof. Fortunately it doesn’t appear to be causing him any pain or discomfort, but we had our vet out to x‑ray both front hoof to rule out the possibility of founder, which they did. Anakin also has a very cloudy left eye, which may be be the result of a past trauma or an autoimmune deficiency. On our vet’s recommendation, we’re treating it as uveitis, which means eye drops for Anakin every eight hours! He’ll be seeing an equine ophthalmologist as soon as we can get an appointment set up to rule out other possible causes, like glaucoma. It’s fortunate for all of us that Anakin is such a good and patient patient!
Many people have asked us how Anakin ended up in such terrible condition. Short answer is that we still don’t know. I have personally spoken with two of his owners and have been able to piece together a timeline for his life after the shutdown of the Equine Research Center at Cal Poly. Anakin left Cal Poly in excellent health and weight, and was adopted by a former student of the program. He had a brief career as a dressage horse, but was sidelined by an injury and was eventually sold to a family in California. He was in perfect health and weight at the time of that sale too. Five years later, his family moved to Alaska, and he was left in the care of relatives living in Elma WA. Six months later, he was reportedly given away to a young woman who answered a Craigslist ad for a free horse, and five days after that, he was signed over to SAFE. None of Anakin’s owners or caretakers in the last five years have admitted responsibility for his emaciated condition, and there’s been a lot of finger-pointing between them. Gray’s Harbor County Animal Control is still investigating this case of criminal animal cruelty, but we don’t hold out much hope that anyone will be held accountable for what happened to this horse.
We are preparing for Anakin’s release from the hospital on Wednesday, getting his feed delivered, getting his stall ready, and preparing for transport. In the meantime, we were delighted to find out that Anakin is already giving back to the horse community! We received the following email and photos from 4‑H Equine Leader Amy Wuerch:
I am writing to share that our new equine 4‑H club, 4‑Happy Hooves, had a wonderful educational opportunity with Anakin Sunday evening. About 10 youth met with Dr. Greg Haines for an education on equine anatomy. Anakin’s unfortunate condition allowed the kids to see parts of the anatomy that are not normally visible on a healthy horse.
Anakin was a gem! He loved all the attention from the kids. He was right in the middle of the crowd, greeting the kids for pets and treats for over an hour. He stood still while the kids gently pointed to various parts of his skeletal frame. He really enjoyed the human interaction.
Anakin is indeed a special horse. Thank you for what you are doing to bring him back to a life he deserves.
Amy Wuerch & Kim Meyer, 4‑H Equine Leaders
How cool is that? Thank you to 4‑Happy Hooves for sharing this neat experience with us!
Anakin has now been at Pilchuck for three weeks. We continue to see improvements in his condition. He’s steadily gaining about a pound a day, topping the scales at about 865 lbs now. (For reference, a horse his size should weigh between 1100 and 1200 lbs.) His calorie count is slowly being increased, and this week, he’s being started on Purina Equine Senior Active, a low carb, high fat supplement that’s being added to the 12 lbs of soaked alfalfa pellets he gets every day. He’s getting all the hay he wants, and continues to be an enthusiastic eater. No more episodes of colic, thankfully.
We told you last week that he’d been started on low doses of Bute, and the blood tests that were done to check on this showed no adverse reaction to the medication.
Anakin is still not getting to his feet without help, but there have been a few encouraging changes in the past week. The biggest is that he is starting to stay on his feet for longer periods of time. Over the weekend, he was up for nearly 48 hours straight. He is also showing more of an inclination to try to get up, but his timing tends to be off. He will make a decent attempt on his own while the technicians are still getting the hoist in position, but he does it before they are able to add any lift. He then gives up in exhaustion and once again has to be deadlifted. There was one time late last week that Anakin showed some frustration with the lifting process. He’s usually as docile as a lamb for the techs, but on that day, he seemed fed up with the whole thing and started thrashing around in the sling. This was encouraging in terms of his involvement in the process, emotional or otherwise, but in a space as small as a stall, it can be dangerous for those who are trying to help him. We haven’t had a repeat of this behavior, but even Anakin seems to be saying, hey! this can’t go on forever!
Anakin’s stall at Pilchuck has both interior and exterior doors, and on sunny days, the techs have started opening the top of his exterior door to let some light and air in. Anakin was visited by some of the gals from SAFE a few days ago, and Jessica took some lovely photos of him.
Anakin’s story was published in the Seattle Times over the weekend, bringing him a new group of well wishers and fans. Because of the article, Anakin received donations from Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, North Dakota, Arizona, California, New York, and of course, Washington. The outpouring of support and concern was incredible.
Anakin has been with us for a total of five weeks now, with the first two weeks in the care of Dr Hannah Mueller at Cedarbrook Vet Care. As we reach the three-week mark for his stay at Pilchuck, we know that a lot of people are wondering what all of this care is costing. To date, Anakin’s care has cost about $8,500. Because his story has touched so many people, SAFE has received more than 80 gifts in Anakin’s name totaling over $12,000. These individuals all have different reasons for giving, but as a group, they want to see Anakin have the best chance possible to survive. This is why we have been able to go to extraordinary lengths for this horse. There’s no question that we could save a lot more horses with $12k, but this is money that SAFE would not have if it weren’t for Anakin. We are morally obligated to use it for Anakin, unless the donor has indicated otherwise. However, we are also obligated to do what is best for Anakin — and he cannot be made to live a life in which he cannot lie down and get back up again. So for now, we will continue to stay the course with his rehabilitation and pray that he continues to improve. We will regroup in another week and evaluate his situation again.
Keep thinking good thoughts for our boy, especially “getting up” thoughts!
If you have any questions or comments about Anakin’s situation, you are welcome and encouraged to contact SAFE’s Executive Director, Bonnie Hammond via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (206–331‑0006).
Celebrated horse, found neglected and starving, faces uphill course to health
By Jessica Lee
Published January 8, 2016 at 8:24 pm
With a starved frame, Anakin lacks strength to stand on his own. The 20-year-old Thoroughbred was found neglected in Western Washington early last month following a celebrated career in research years ago.
But now, several hundred pounds underweight, the former star is on an uphill trot to health. The Woodinville horse-rescue nonprofit, Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE), stepped in to care for the gelding, hoping he eventually gains strength to get up on his own.
“His will to live is incredible, considering the shape he’s in,” SAFE Executive Director Bonnie Hammond said. “Most horses would’ve given up a long time ago, but he’s determined to keep on living.”
Anakin started his life as a mediocre racehorse. At 3 years old, his fate seemed grim — he was sent to a kill pen — until a team of California researchers offered him a new career.
The group, from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, or Cal Poly Pomona, rescued him. Over the next 12 years, he participated in studies on locomotion and impacts on horses at high altitudes, among other topics, at the school’s Equine Research Center.
But when the facility’s director suddenly died, research funding grew scarce. The studies ended, putting Anakin’s future again in limbo, at age 15, until one researcher in the group took him in.
After that, his story is fuzzy. It’s unclear where and how he wound up in Washington malnourished. The Gray’s County Sheriff’s Office’s animal-control department is investigating the case with hopes of determining Anakin’s source of mistreatment.
Caregivers say he is making progress in terms of physical activity and appetite at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish County, though they estimate it will take three to four months before he returns to full weight and health, according to the horse’s profile on the SAFE’s website.
Some two weeks after he first entered the facility, caregivers were still using a hoist to get him up on his feet because his hind legs are so weak.
“I’m just hoping and praying that he’s going to start showing signs that he’s going to be able to stand up on his own,” Hammond said. “He didn’t get this thin overnight, and he’s not going to bounce back overnight.”
SAFE is accepting donations to support Anakin, which can be made online, by calling 206–331‑0006 or by mailing a check to SAFE at 16509 164th Ave. N.E., Woodinville, 98072.
Jessica Lee: 206–464‑2532 or email@example.com
Anakin continues to make progress in many important ways. He’s slowly gaining weight–topping the scales at 856 lbs at yesterday’s weigh in — and his appetite remains hearty. He’s drinking plenty of water, passing manure, and his protein levels seem to have stabilized. He did appear to have a mild episode of colic over the holiday weekend, but after a dose of banamine, he seemed fine again. He’s getting outside for short walks with the help of Pilchuck vet techs, which has got to be nice for him after so many weeks of stall rest. His attitude remains reasonably positive, and his behavior is, as always, perfect.
But there is one area in which he is not making progress…and that is his ability to stand up unaided.
Anakin has been at PIlchuck for nearly two weeks now, and he’s established a pretty steady routine. He’ll spend most of the day on his feet — eating, mostly — then typically around 4am, he will lie down in his stall for a nap. When he is down, he can easily shift between lying flat out on his side and rolling up onto his sternum. The staff will let him stay down for about 6 hours, before using the hoist to get him back on his feet. Occasionally, he will make an attempt to stand by himself, but he’s still not able to get enough push from his back legs to lift his hindquarters. However, even with the help of the hoist, he will often make no attempt to participate in the process, preferring to let himself be deadlifted off the ground until he can be persuaded to straighten his legs and stand. It’s as if he knows he can’t get up so he doesn’t even want to try.
The reality of Anakin’s situation is this: he is a 20 year old horse who has been through a horrific amount of neglect and starvation. We know that he is still very weak, and that he has very little muscle in his hind legs, even now, four weeks after rescue. What we don’t know is what else is going on in those legs. It is certainly likely at his age that he has at least some arthritis. Perhaps attempting to stand is causing him pain? He’s now getting a daily dose of Bute for pain relief in hopes that might help him, but so far, it’s not making much of a difference. And we will have to look at bloodwork again midweek to make certain that his kidneys are handling this medication okay.
All this is costing a lot of money, as you can guess, and we are just so grateful to everyone who donated in Anakin’s name and made it possible for him to get this level of care. Keep thinking good thoughts for him, and we hope the next update will be a better one!
We had a little unwanted excitement just before Christmas. Up until Dec 23rd, Anakin had not tried laying down in his stall at Cedarbrook. He’d just graduated to free choice hay (as opposed to the small frequent meals he’d been getting up to that point) and he’d stopped trying to eat his bedding, so his stall was once again filled with fluffy shavings. It must have looked very inviting because he laid down for a nap…but when he tried getting back up, he was unable to do so. In the end it took several large men with a length of heavy netting to hoist him back to his feet. And as usual, nothing about the experience seemed to bother Anakin in the least.
However, we knew this was not something that could keep happening, so the decision was made to move Anakin down the road to Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital. If you’re not familiar with Pilchuck, it’s the premier large animal vet practice in our area, offering world-class care by the best doctors and staff in the business. SAFE relies on Pilchuck for emergency and surgical care as well as top-notch diagnostics and therapy. Anakin would be in great hands.
The trip to Pilchuck was uneventful, and soon Anakin was tucked into a large, warm stall with a double load of cedar shavings for bedding. He’s getting excellent, round-the-clock care and monitoring, and best of all, his stall is equipped with a ceiling hoist that can be used to help him to his feet when he lays down.
Anakin is taking full advantage of this opportunity, spending about 6 hours a day resting. He likes to alternate between snoozing full out on his side, and rolling up onto his sternum so he can relax and eat. He’s currently wearing a sling full time, which has been taped and padded for comfort, so that getting him back up is a fairly simple procedure. And of course you know Anakin…he’s a perfect gentleman and makes no fuss whatsoever when the hoist is used!
As you may have guessed, keeping Anakin at Pilchuck is considerably more expensive than at Cedarbrook. The donations that have been made to help with Anakin’s recovery are the reason we are able to provide him with this level of care. This is an amazing community of people who have joined together to help save this horse, and we are so incredibly grateful to all of you who have donated towards his recovery. On behalf of SAFE and Anakin himself, thank you so much for your generosity and kindness.
Anakin will likely be at Pilchuck for several more days. His condition continues to improve and he is eating, drinking, and pooping with great enthusiasm. His spirits remain high. However, he is still incredibly weak so he’s just not able to use his back legs to push his hind end up off the ground. We hope to see some improvement in this very soon. Until then, his team at Pilchuck is there to lend a hand when he needs it.
Thank you so much for being part of Anakin’s journey! Happy holidays!!
Here’s a short and uneventful video from a visit with Anakin on the day after Christmas:
Since he’s stall-bound, his inactivity is not helping the edema. So Anakin’s legs are being cold hosed, polticed, and wrapped twice a day to try to bring down the swelling. Another therapy he is receiving is daily Theraplate sessions. Theraplate provides zero impact whole body vibrations via a large plate that the horse stands upon. In Anakin’s case, we are using this therapy to increase his circulation and reduce his swelling. But there’s another neat side effect of this therapy for Anakin: it actually seems to remind him of the time he spent as a research horse at Cal Poly. So it brightens his spirits and gives him something meaningful to do, which is just the sweetest thing.
So many people have donated to Anakin’s care, and we want you all to know that it is making a difference!
by Bonnie Hammond
Published Dec 16, 2015
For us, Anakin’s story began early Monday morning with an email asking for our help. It was from a woman in Winlock, Washington who wanted to know if SAFE had room to take in an emaciated Thoroughbred gelding.
The horse had been rescued a few days earlier by her young boarder, and it had become clear to her that he was going to need much more than either of them would be able to provide or afford. While SAFE’s intake team was discussing how best to help, a second email arrived. The horse was down on the ground and was unable to get back to his feet.
Two days prior, they had faced a similar situation with Anakin, and the Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART) had been deployed to the property to hoist him to his feet. Now, Anakin was in trouble again. He’d laid down to rest and his weakness, combined with the wet, over-saturated ground, made it impossible for him to stand up. He was stiff, cold and tired, and there was more bad weather on the way.
Once again, WASART answered the call and sent a team out to assist Anakin a second time. Using a Häst tripod, a Becker sling and a large group of manpower, WASART responders safely returned Anakin to an upright position. (The story and photos of this rescue operation are amazing, so if you’ve not seen them, visit WASART’s Facebook page to experience this incredible feat of rescue, and consider making a donation to this all-volunteer organization.)
More than one rescuer commented on Anakin’s demeanor during the complicated procedure. He was calm, relaxed and fairly unconcerned about what was happening. WASART responders often find that horses who have been through such an ordeal will eventually just give up and give in to exhaustion. Not Anakin. Clearly this was a horse with a strong will to live. Continue Reading on HorseCollaborative.com
Snohomish horse near brink of death is now on road to recovery
By KOMO News Staff
Aired on Dec 12, 2015
SNOHOMISH, Wash. — A local horse that’s near the brink of death is now on the long road to recovery in Snohomish.
It’s pretty tough to look at Anakin, a 20-year-old Thoroughbred gelding.
He’s painfully thin. His hips and all of his ribs are exposed.
No horse should ever look the way he does, said Bonnie Hammond.
“I’ve never seen a horse as thin as Anakin is right now,” said Hammond, the Executive Director of Save a Forgotten Equine Horse Rescue. “It’s so hard to express how painful it is to see a lovely animal like this whose been starved to the brink of death.”
Hammond and her team had Anakin brought to Cedarbrook Veterinary Care in Snohomish after two recent rescue efforts at a small farm in Lewis County involving the Washington State Animal Response Team.
WASART teams were called out to the farm twice in early December when weakness and wet ground prevented Anakin from standing back up after lying down to rest, Hammond said. He was incredibly weak, she added. The fear of stroke or death was real.
“The whole procedure really didn’t freak him out like most horses would. He was pretty calm about the whole thing,” said Hammond. “And it wasn’t until we found out about his history with (California State Polytechnic University) that all of a sudden it made sense.”
Anakin spent 12 years at the Cal Poly Equine Research Center in Pomona, California, which was established in 1980 to study horse health, reproductive physiology, behavior, parasitology, and immunology, Hammond said.
Anakin was one of a group of horses that participated in locomotion studies and high altitude studies. It was valuable research spent around lots of people and equipment, Hammond said.
“He’s just got this amazing kindness and sort of wizeness about him,” said Hammond. “When I found out where he came from and what he did in his life, I was hooked. This is a really special horse.”
Hammond believes Anakin’s amazing spirit is a large reason why he’s still alive.
He’s not out of the woods yet, but tests performed this week show there’s no permanent damage to his liver or kidneys, Hammond said. He’s being kept in a clean, warm stall and eating a carefully controlled diet to prevent re-feeding syndrome, she added.
“He’s so zen,” Hammond said.
If things continue to go well for Anakin, the plan is to eventually find him a good home to live out the rest of his life, Hammond added.
“I’ve never seen a horse so thin who has so much light in his eyes. He’s decided that he’s not done yet. And he’s fought for his life as hard as he can,” Hammond said.
“He just deserves to be pampered, and loved, and cared for for the rest of his days.”
Click here to make a donation to SAFE to help pay for Anakin’s care.
WASART is a volunteer-based organization that relies on public support. Click here to make a donation to WASART.
KOMO-TV reporter Steve McCarron and cameraperson Robin visited Anakin at Cedarbrook Vet Care today to film for the story that appeared on the evening news. Here are some behind the scenes photos of the shoot!
click to enlarge and view as slideshow
For us, Anakin’s story began early Monday morning, with an email asking for our help. It was from a woman in Winlock WA who wanted to know if SAFE had room to take in an emaciated Thoroughbred gelding. He had been rescued a few days earlier by her young boarder, and it had become clear to her that he was going to need much more than either of them would be able to provide or afford. While SAFE’s intake team was discussing how best to help, a second email arrived. The horse was down on the ground and was unable to get back to his feet. Two days prior, they had faced a similar situation with Anakin, and the Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART) had been deployed to the property to hoist him to his feet. Now Anakin was in trouble again. He’d laid down to rest, and his weakness, combined with the wet, oversaturated ground he was lying on, had made it impossible for him to stand up. He was stiff, cold, and tired, and there was more bad weather on the way.
Once again, WASART answered the call and sent a team out to rescue Anakin a second time. Using a Häst tripod, a Becker sling, and a large group of manpower, WASART responders returned Anakin to an upright position. The story and photos of this rescue operation are amazing, so if you’ve not seen them, visit this link on WASART’s Facebook page to experience this incredible feat of rescue (and consider making a donation to this all-volunteer organization.) . More than one rescuer commented on Anakin’s demeanor during the complicated procedure: he was calm, relaxed, and fairly unconcerned about what was happening. WASART responders often find that horses who have been through such an ordeal will eventually just give up and give in to exhaustion. Not Anakin. Clearly this was a horse with a strong will to live.
Once he was back on his feet and able to stand on his own, Anakin was bundled up in blankets and taken to a neighbor’s where he spent the night in an indoor arena, out of the rain and cold. The next afternoon, he was loaded into a trailer and driven north. Anakin was now a SAFE horse, and he was headed to the place where all new SAFE horses in need of immediate vet care are sent: to Dr. Hannah Mueller and her team at Cedarbrook Vet Care/NWESC.
Upon his arrival, Anakin was led to a large, warm stall filled with fluffy, clean bedding. He was a bit worn out from the journey, but still bright, alert, and interested in his new surroundings. His blankets were removed, revealing the skeletal frame of this brave and valiant horse. In ten years of rescue, I have never seen a horse as thin as Anakin is right now. His body could be used to teach an equine anatomy lesson: nearly every bone is prominent. We were told that he may have been in this condition for several months. Our immediate concern was the strong possibility that his internal organs were compromised by prolonged starvation. Blood was drawn to test his liver and kidney functions. Waiting for the results of that bloodwork meant a restless and worried night for us all.
In the morning, three wonderful things happened. Anakin greeted his caretakers with a soft and sweet nicker…and the initial bloodwork showed no indication of permanent damage to his internal organs. Anakin might just survive. Much celebration and cheering ensued as the good news spread.
And the third wonderful thing? SAFE Board member Jet Parrett had done some sleuthing overnight, and she had stumbled upon some surprising information about Anakin’s background. After studying photographs, researching his tattoo, and having some very interesting phone conversations, we realized that Anakin’s remarkable story started long before his rescue in Winlock.
In June of 1995, a Thoroughbred, who would later be named Intercopilot, was born in California. He would go on to have an unremarkable career as a racehorse, and eventually wound up in a kill pen at the age of three. Intercopilot was rescued from that kill pen by researchers from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, better known as Cal Poly Pomona. They christened the chestnut gelding Anakin.
The university itself is located on land that once belonged to breakfast cereal mogul W.K. Kellogg, who operated an Arabian horse ranch there. Kellogg donated part of the land to the state of California in 1949, stipulating that it be used for education. Cal Poly Paloma now sits on that land. It is also home to the W.K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Center, which breeds, shows, and sells Arabian horses. Next door to the Arabian Horse Center is the Equine Research Center (ERC). This would be Anakin’s home for the next 12 years.
Holly Greene is a researcher at Cal Poly who worked extensively with Anakin during his time at the ERC, which was established in 1980 to study horse health, reproductive physiology, behavior, parasitology and immunology. Anakin was one of a group of horses who participated in locomotion studies, as well as exercise physiology, biomechanics, energetics, and high altitude studies. Anakin and the other horses were worked in hand on the ground, on a high-speed equine treadmill, and on a force plate. Anakin also participated in altitude studies, spending extended periods in the mountains at 12,000 feet while researchers studied the effects of high altitude on horses. In the photo above, taken in 2001, Anakin is the subject of a locomotion study in which reflective markers are being used to help measure limb angles and a force plate is measuring the forces generated during the jump. Seeing this, it’s suddenly less surprising that he handled WASART’s sling and tripod with such ease. He is certainly a horse who is accustomed to having strange equipment strapped to his body!
(Photos courtesy of Holly Greene, Cal Poly Equine Research Center — click to enlarge)
Holly described Anakin as a phenomenal horse for this work, and says that he was very well loved by the students that came through the research center. He was so good natured that even the most inexperienced students could work with him safely. The horses in the research string were treated with great care, receiving a lot of grooming, handling, and treats. Anakin was one of the few Thoroughbreds in the study, and his personality made him a favorite with staff and students.
In 2007, following the death of ERC director Dr. Steven Wickler, the ERC began losing funding and financial support for its research, and by 2010, the program was on hiatus. The horses in the research string had to be rehomed. Holly said she considered keeping Anakin herself, but realized she didn’t have the time or resources to devote to the now 15 year old gelding. Instead, Anakin was given to one of her students, who took him on as a dressage horse. It was a good home, Holly says, and she visited him there several times, but eventually lost touch with him. When she learned today that he was fighting for his life in Washington state, she was shocked and deeply saddened by the news.
From this point, there is a five year gap in Anakin’s story, until last week when he turned up in Winlock. We might find out more about what happened to him, or we may never know. Right now our number one priority is getting this remarkable horse strong and healthy again. He is being monitored around the clock, and he is on a very strict re-feeding diet to try to prevent colic or other complications. We are cautiously optimistic that he will be okay. It’s going to take some time, but Anakin is a fighter. The Force is strong with this horse.
So many people worked together to rescue Anakin and get him to SAFE. Mariah and Karin are the angels who first brought him to safety and got him through the first five days of his new life. WASART is responsible for getting him up off the ground not once, but twice. The community of Winlock, including the folks at Valhalla Canine Rescue, played a huge part in assisting WASART’s rescue efforts and rallying around this horse in his darkest hours. A lot of people spent Monday networking like crazy to find Anakin a dry place to land, including Rosemary at Pony Up and many others on social media and beyond. Mariah and Jason went above and beyond getting Anakin safely into our care yesterday, and Dr Hannah and her team at Cedarbrook are working hard to keep Anakin on the road to recovery as we speak. I sincerely apologize to anyone who has been left off this list – we might not know what you did, but you can bet Anakin knows.
If you’d like to join the SAFEkeepers and sponsor Anakin with an automatic monthly donation, please click here.
More information about Cal Poly’s Equine Research Center (and Anakin) can be found in these magazine articles:
A Tale of Two Cal Polys (published in Feb 2010 in California Thoroughbred magazine)
From Cornflakes to Equine Science (published in 2000 in California Thoroughbred magazine)