2002 Quarter Horse type mare
Suitability: Companion, For Intermediate Handler
Markings: snip, LF sock, LH spot
Height: 14.3 hh
Weight: 1064 lbs
Adoption Fee: $300
This beautiful big quarter horse mare was found abandoned at the Pilchuck Tree Farm in Arlington, along with an older gelding. Snohomish County Animal Control posted publicly looking for their owner. No one came forward and no brands were found, so they were released to SAFE for rehabilitation. We hoped that Bijou would become a riding horse, but after seeing how much anxiety she displayed when being saddled, we decided that it would be kinder to find her a great home as a companion horse. Bijou is a sweet mare who has been through enough in her life, and she will make a brilliant friend for some lucky individual!
All SAFE horses are adopted with a no-breeding clause, no exceptions.
Field Report: Working with Bijou
Kirsten AL, one of our horsemanship volunteers, has been working with Bijou the past several months, and has had the following to say about their time spent together:
“What a fun horse to work with! In both being a gem with a heart of gold and a challenge with her set ways, Bijou doesn’t ever fail to impress with how attentive and sensitive she is. She has a huge willingness to try and willingness to learn.
In being assigned to Bijou in mid-November and in working with her 3 times per week, there have been some improvements with the following. Thank goodness because during our first lesson in the round pen, Bijou was a crazy lady and exhibiting tons of bucking and kicking and ‘was a lot to watch’. She has come a long way from that point!
· The most important progress for Bijou is learning to be a less pushy horse that now attentively watches for you to stop, turn and back up. It was when Terry was showing her to a potential adopter that I was reminded that shifting shoulders back is a cue to backing a horse prior to an ask with the rope or moving your feet. Bijou has picked up this piece of the shoulder shift as well as leading from a distance with a long rope. She is also able to back while facing her with just a slight movement of the rope as well as waits patiently and for long periods until you are ready to move. She also exits the stall patiently and attentively rather than her old M.O. of blowing past you as she raced out of the stall. With Bijou as a safer horse to lead for all volunteers both in and outside of the barn, her potential for a happy adoption is that much closer.
· The farrier, Lisa, remarked that Bijou is now better at picking up her front feet willingly. With guidance from Terry in learning to use a rope and much repetitive practice, Bijou has learned also to not pull her front feet away from you, is able to hold a hoof up for extended periods, isn’t alarmed with banging on her foot (mimicking the use of a hammer while getting shod) and shifts her weight to the other feet and off of the one you are lifting up. She has even been seen to give you her right foot as you move in that direction!
· Moving from walk to trot to lope and back down with as little ask as possible has been a surprising lesson learned. It only takes a slight sound or movement to get her to increase her gait. This big girl likes to move in the round pen and burn off some pent up energy resulting from stall and paddock life. Seldom does a flag need to be used as she is quite sensitive to being asked. This also makes the release that much more important, for which she is also looking for and will slow her gait accordingly.
In moving around the round pen, Bijou has the biggest challenges with her right eye. She willingly moves off the fence and towards you with her left eye, but not the right. Recently, with Terry’s suggestion to be ‘less creepy and more black and white’, I’ve paid close attention to giving clear direction and quick, meaningful releases to assist in Bijou’s challenges with her right eye. It is still my hope to learn the ability to teach in a black and white method and to hear others in action demonstrate this skill that could help in many circumstances and serve many horses and trainers well. Terry also mentioned the need for the following which I’ve incorporated to the best of my abilities;
- Move quickly away from the horse to demonstrate a clear, apparent release and to “pull” the horse toward you
- Increase “the ask” to move forward and decrease “the chasing” to move forward
With suggestions from Candi; more trouble shooting with Bijou’s ability to come toward you from the fence with her right eye resulted in a recent win with Bijou happily walking all the way across the round pen toward me and my ability to quickly approach her right eye to catch her ‘like the barn is on fire’ but in a “non-greedy” manner.
Lesson learned from Lily, ‘progression is not linear’, which is always a good reminder for patience in the process and the twists and turns in learning new skills for both horse and human.
Work in progress include;
- Picking up back feet with a rope and then more safely with hands
- Continuing to assist Bijou to turn in and walk forward from the fence with both eyes
- Increase the use of short transitions between gaits to create a more pleasing expression and decrease pinning ears and a cranky face
- Moving through the isle of the barn when other horses are absent to increase her confidence in this space
It is with lots of licking and yawning (Bijou’s – not mine) that most sessions with Bijou end as well as a sweet face rub and affectionate head hold. I’m fortunate to work with and learn from Bijou to best help her find a forever pasture in which she will be adored.”
A Precious Gem Seeks a Home
“Bijou” means jewel in French, and never has a horse embodied her name so fully. Sweet Bijou truly is a gem of a mare, her kindness radiating outward from her gentle eyes. Hers is a face that enjoys being pet – she is the perfect horse for someone looking for a companion to dote over and love on, for she will soak attention up like a sponge.
In a herd, she can adjust to a pecking order, and has been out with both a gelding (Sebastian, her companion when she arrived) and a group of mares (5 to be exact: Fancy, Frosting, Rae, Nova, and Veronica), all with various personalities. She has managed to stay out of trouble, and would likely fit in as a friend to most herd dynamics.
But she is also multifaceted, like any good gemstone is. She is an easy mare to get along with, but would really thrive in a home with someone willing to set some boundaries, and also be able to support her on the occasions her nerves get the better of her.
If Bijou sang karaoke, she might sing ‘Brick House’ (to represent her hefty build), and if she had to pick a jewel to be, it might be a diamond – for she overcame the pressure of adversity to turn into something that sparkles and shines. So if you’ve been looking for a companion horse to love on, fix your eyes on this mare and let her dazzle you.
Bijou, Companion Horse
After her intake quarantine was over, we began to get to know Bijou. With her sweet eyes and gentle personality, we were excited to learn a bit more about her. It is not uncommon that horses come to us without a history to speak of, and we must rely solely on assumptions and the little bits of insight that they give us based on their reactions to things.
To handle on the ground, Bijou is gentle, if not a bit pushy. We can assume that the people of her past did not establish boundaries with her, which is why she feels it is OK to walk on top of you when she feels uncertain in a situation or simply determines that your feet are not moving fast enough for her liking. But she is a kind mare, and when you establish respect with her, she returns it.
We assumed, based on how she was on the ground, that she had been ridden before. We ran her through the checks, which she did fine with, but cinching up was a different story. The journey to finding peace under saddle would be a long and strenuous one for Bijou, and perhaps for a younger horse, perhaps for a horse who had not been through so much already, we would have decided to undergo the journey with her. But the discomfort she showed under saddle was not worth it. We decided that she would be moved to companion status, retired from riding.
And her status as companion suits Bijou just fine. She is a sweet, kind mare, one who loves face pets and time out with horse friends. We are very much looking forward to setting Bijou up with a family who will love her just as much as we do, just as she is.
September Joel Conner Clinic Report: Bijou
Kirsten L. worked with Bijou in the September Joel clinic, and had the following to say about her experience:
“With a fitting name of French origins, Bijou means a rare gem and that is certainly the case for this 20 year old mare indeed. She shines both in appearance and attitude. Her muscular image makes her seem much younger and quite capable of holding her own. And then her willingness to learn and try also implies a youthful spirit.
In the groundwork classes she caught on quickly to leading on a float, backing and changing directions/eyes. She listens well while leading and is ever attentive from either side. Needless to say, she is easy to catch, can be brushed all over and is getting better with front feet cleaning.
Next steps include cleaning back feet, trot while being led, working with a flag and gaining a pleasant willingness to yield the hind and cross over the front,s as well as hooking on in the round pen.
Bijou has won the hearts of many, many volunteers at SAFE. When you meet Bijou, you will find an extremely kind and cuddly mare that won’t take your eyes off you. You also won’t take your eyes off her. She IS a gem.”
Bijou in the Round Pen
It’s been a busy first few weeks here at SAFE since Bijou arrived. Now off of Quarantine, she had her first set of vaccines, dental float and microchipped. She also got a lovely pair of front shoes from our farrier and was a super star for it! Here is a short little video of our first day working a little with her in the round pen. She is very gentle, kind and has a wonderful disposition. We are looking forward to assessing her for riding and making her available for adoption!
New Horses, Sebastian and Bijou!
Sebastian and Bijou were found abandoned at the Tree Farm in Arlington. Snohomish County Animal Control posted publicly searching for their home, but after no one came forward, they were released to SAFE. Bijou is a 10 year old Quarter Horse mare who is very sweet and may have been a riding horse in her past. Her hooves are very flat and we hope to schedule a visit with the farrier soon to fit her for shoes.
Our newest senior gelding, Sebastian, is a 20 year old flea bitten grey Arabian who has some medical concerns. His legs and sheath are swollen and we are waiting to hear back on bloodwork from our vet to determine the best medical plan going forward. Right now, the two are in separate paddocks next to each other, but are most often are found standing right next to each other in their shelter keeping an eye on one another. Recently our staff gave them both a bath and they were perfect angels for it. We look forward to learning more about their individual personalities as we bring them back to health.
1. Eileen Q.
2. Kate L.
3. Jeanne S.
4. Ben C.
5. Karen B.
6. Whitney-Bear B.
7. Paula B.
8. Judy P.
9. Avery E.
11. Jean E.
Every horse deserves at least ten friends! Even a small monthly donation can make a difference. Plus, SAFE horse sponsors receive discounts at local businesses through the SAFEkeepers program!