Bucky B Lucky

description: 2005 bay Thoroughbred gelding
type of rescue: auction purchase
re-intake date: 5/7/10
adoption date: 10/8/11

type of rescue: returned to SAFE
re-intake date: 2/20/2013
adoption date: 3/21/2015
total length of time with SAFE: 3 years, 6 months

ADOPTED!! by Ruth J of Auburn WA

Alumni Update: Bucky B Lucky

Alumni Update: Bucky B Lucky

It gives us great pride to share that SAFE alum Bucky B Lucky, now known as Lorenzo, and his adopter Ruth Geppert-Jelinek were named Champions of the English 18 & up division for the 2018–2019 Donida Farm English/Western Schooling Show Series. The pair were also awarded the Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program series Reserve Championship for the season! Great work as always, you two!


SAFE Alumni at the SAFE Show

We had several SAFE Alumni come out to compete at the 2017 SAFE Benefit Horse Show. SAFE Alum Bucky B Lucky won the Champion SAFE Alumni award, competing successfully in English, Dressage, and Western Halter & Showmanship. SAFE Alums Owen, Moonshine, and Baxter also came out to the show.

SAFE Alum Owen

SAFE Alum Moonshine

SAFE Alum Bucky B Lucky

SAFE Alumni Baxter

SAFE Alumni Baxter

Congratulations to Ruth and Bucky B Lucky!

lucky_10_02_2016SAFE Alum, Bucky B Lucky (who now goes by Lorenzo) and his adopter Ruth Jelinek were named Reserve Champions overall at the Ride for the Roses Thoroughbred & Half-Thoroughbred Show at Donida Farm this weekend.

Along with this honor, they also achieved the High Point English English Pleasure award as well as the High Score Dressage award with a 75.45% in Training 3.

Congratulations to you both! We couldn’t be prouder of the things you are doing together!

Lucky in Love

Obviously, adoptions are special to us…nothing makes us happier than being able to announce that one of the SAFE horses has found a home. But every so often, an adoption will fall into place that just reaches into our hearts and gives a little squeeze. An adoption that makes us pinch ourselves to be sure we’re not dreaming. On Saturday afternoon, over birthday cake and carrots, we celebrated one of those adoptions…and today, we congratulate Bucky B Lucky and Ruth J for finding each other and making this dream a reality.

Ruth, Lucky, and Pete

Ruth, Lucky, and Pete

I would describe this match as love at first sight, but it’s important to recognize that Ruth’s decision to adopt Lucky was made extremely carefully and deliberately, with careful consideration of Lucky’s needs and Ruth’s ability to provide for him. Many questions were asked, much research done. But the spark was there right from the start. In terms of what Ruth was looking for, Lucky fit the bill in just about every way: young, athletic, lovely gaits, and the talent to perform at the lower levels of dressage. He’s not an easy ride, and he has the ability to be a handful under saddle, but as a professional dressage trainer, Ruth is more than capable of dealing with the hijinks of a young Thoroughbred.

But for those of us at SAFE who stuck with Lucky through thick and thin, gave him the benefit of the doubt when things were tough, and always believed in him, we are celebrating what Ruth means to Lucky. See, Ruth is someone who doesn’t give up, who would never turn her back on a friend, and who does not expect that the things in life worth having should necessarily come easy. As she herself puts it, she’s German, she doesn’t quit. Lucky is Ruth’s second horse — her first horse is an enormous handsome Percheron named Jack. To say that Ruth and Jack have been a lot together would be a bit of an understatement, as anyone who knows them will attest. Ruth’s loyalty and devotion to Jack over the years has been incredible. Ruth has never let her own goals or ambitions get in the way of what was best for Jack, even in the face of medical and lameness issues that would have caused most of us to give up.

Lucky, on the other hand, is a horse that has been given up on before…several times before in fact. And like many Thoroughbreds, Lucky has a pretty clear understanding of how the people around him feel about him. If every horse is a mirror, Lucky is a full-length three way department story changing room mirror! If you’re ambivalent about Lucky, don’t expect much from him. If you dislike him, you’d better keep your distance. But if you treat him with kindness, respect, and love, he is the sweetest horse in the world.

So when Ruth told me that she was very interested in Lucky, all I could think about was what it would be like for this horse to spend the rest of his life with someone who would not give up on him, who would show him loyalty and devotion and unconditional love. I pictured a Bucky B Lucky who knows he is home, who knows who his person is…and all I could imagine was that he would absolutely blossom with someone who would give him that kind of surety and security.

SAFE BoD members at Lucky's Party

SAFE BoD members at Lucky’s Party

I saw that horse on Saturday. He’s been on trial with Ruth for about three weeks now, and already he looks like a better, shinier, calmer, and happier horse. He radiated happiness. He even looked taller! It was really something to see. Saturday was Lucky’s 10th birthday and Ruth threw him a party and gave him the best gift she could think of: the gift of a permanent home. Lucky’s trial is over, his adoption is official, and we can share this news with all of you today. At the party, in between photo opportunities with the Man of the Hour, Ruth told me that Lucky — now christened Lorenzo — was not perfect, and already he’d tried bucking under saddle to see what she would do. She just laughed. That’s what unconditional love is…a love that is there when you’re good, and a love that is there when you’re not so good. Knowing this, there is nothing that will stop Lorenzo and Ruth on their journey together. We could not be happier for them!


Unusually warm weather in January? Bath day!

thanks to Jessica F for these photos!

Video: Lucky Under Saddle

Lucky is going beautifully under saddle! He has strengthened over his top line and built up a good amount of muscle over his back. He is holding a nice self carriage and has an easy walk, trot, and canter. Lucky is ready to show First Level dressage this year and and with the right rider could begin schooling Second Level movements. He still needs some strengthening to hold himself through the trot canter transitions but other than that he is ready.

Lucky has been maintaining a great weight on his low bulk diet— he’s filled out and has a nice shiny coat. He has been colic free since going on the low bulk diet and we are all very happy this is working out! He is more than ready for his forever home. The perfect home for Lucky would be one where he could live outside and graze all day long, all year round. He would need to continue to be fed grains in order to maintain his weight. Our vet has told us that we can try adding hay back into his diet at some point, but for right now we are holding off since his current diet is working so well!

Lucky’s Low Bulk Diet

Who's a handsome boy?

Who’s a handsome boy?

The past few months have included some health challenges for our dear friend Lucky. He had a mild colic episode, requiring the vet to come out and administer Banamine and fluids. He responded well, but about a week later he had another colic episode. When the third episode in a month struck, we knew we needed to get to the bottom of the problem. Working with Dr. Megan McCracken from Rainland Farm, we opted to try treating him for ulcers. We were hopeful this would put an end to the random bouts of colic.

Unfortunately, about 2 weeks into the treatment, Lucky coliced again. Thinking that it could be a gut motility issue, Dr. McCracken advised us to try a Low Bulk diet — in other words, no hay — to see if that would help. Lucky was started on a carefully formulated mash suggested by the veterinarian. He now gets mash 3 times per day, and so far he is holding his weight nicely. We can tell he misses his hay, as he anticipates the mash enthusiastically. He was able to have grass turnout through the end of the pasture season, which helped keep him happy. With the pastures now closed for the season, we are providing stall enrichment options for him.

We are now over one month into the Low Bulk diet, and happy to report no more signs of colic for our boy! If this proves to be the answer to eliminating the recurring colic, we will continue this course for a few months and then the vet believes we can try adding hay back in slowly.

On other fronts, Lucky was the recipient of a course of Pentosan injections, and in spite of the tummy issues, the quality of his work has improved significantly. He continues to be sound, comfortable in work, and an all around sweetheart of a horse.

August Training Notes

Phoenix: Going well under saddle with strengthening exercises in the walk including: shoulder fore, hauls, halt rein backs, and collected walk. He’s up to 7 minutes at the trot and continues to look sound. We’ve been working in some trot poles during the rides.

Skittles: Skittles is doing well with riding. She will have good days but others she is stiff and unhappy to use her back if I don’t give her a long warm-up

Jewel: Doing well at foster and looks to have filled out quite a bit this summer. She been turned out with Ruby and everything seems to be fine, the two are “cohabiting” well.

Lola: Lola continues to do well with both ground manners and riding. The canter has been our main focus this month and she is now consistently picking it up when asked and is learning to keep the gait for longer amounts of time. She is a bit grumpy about this at first but it is getting better. Some nice long canter moments have been happening. The key to improving this is achieving a true inside bend. This will take a bit of strength building but she is getting some lovely forward and soft canters now.

Kai: He does still have his moments of exuberant energy so I am continuing to work him in hand only. He is doing well over the trot poles and is stretching nicely. I have raised them up to keep them challenging and added polls to both sides of the arena. When he isn’t showing his nutty side, he is very lovely.

Sapphire: I saw Sapphire 3 weeks ago at Kim’s. She is looking happy and was sweet when I came to talk to her. Kim is lunging her and has some very loose side reins on her and she is doing well.

Oscar: He’s has three months off work, and he’ll have another three before we trot him again to evaluate soundness. Helga said she can trot him on the lunge for us to see if he is sound when the time is up.

Finn: While he remains sound with the work there is still a slight “offness” when traking to the left. I have to think this may always slightly be there but it is dramatically better than it was before the shoe package.

Cameo: Working on a nice balanced trot and feeling much stronger. Her left shoulder is still much more developed than the right due to the club foot. I have to use a pad with buildup of the right side so that the saddle sits level and on the middle of her, otherwise it will slide crooked the entire time.

Skye: Skye has been a really great girl this last month. So much that I used her as my riding demo for the Chamber of Commerce evening. She was great with the crowd and did a nice walk, trot, and canter for them. She is a beautiful girl and a lot of fun to ride! We continue to work on trailer loading and things are going well, all 4 feet into the trailer and quietly coming out.

Ruby: Doing well at foster. We’ve been talking about her growth and whether we should wait to start her until she has more time to grow. I think not putting too much weight and heavy rides on her are a good idea. If this is SAFE’s choice, I suggest since her personality can be a bit young, big and head strong, would be a great idea to start getting the basics on her and working towards saddling well before she has a rider.

Misty: (From Kellie:) Bottom line is that Misty has improved, but, not as much as I hoped.  She is better at bending left and taking weight on the left hind than she was before the stifle injections. Fewer missteps as well. However, she is still very stiff to start out, for about 15 minutes, and this is in addition to the lunging time.  Sometimes she gets a short lunge if she is not too silly and other times, she might be lunging 15 minutes. She has also improved from the donated chiro and the muscle relaxants.

As the chiro vet said, it is best to bring them back to full work/strength slowly with the stifles. My goal is to get Misty out 4–5 times a week again, like she was before her May “stiffnesses and swollen legs”, but still low key work.  Some riding, some lunging, and to start some trot poles.

I guess it was too much to hope that the stifle issue was going to be a “ quick fix.”  Since, it has probably been going on for awhile– just like a person with a similar problem—it is probably going to be a longer rehab period for her.

Lucky: Doing well WTC. The 7 doses of Pentosan have helped him look less stiff in the hind end. He shows no more hesitations going into the trot. He does fuss a little when first asked for the canter but the next transitions up are usually better. He still looks a little stiff when tracking to the right. Also he is pretty tender on his front feet so we’re looking at putting front shoes on.

A Long Overdue Update for Bucky B Lucky…

Lucky at the 2014 SAFE Show

Lucky at the 2014 SAFE Show

Lucky has been on medical hold for a while now, while we worked to sort through a couple of issues. We now have more information to share regarding this handsome gentleman.

First and foremost, Lucky’s behavior has been fabulous during his time in foster at White Birch Farm. Melonie reports that he is a joy to work with. In fact, he caught the eye of one of Melonie’s clients who applied to adopt him.

During the course of the Pre-Purchase Exam, Lucky flexed and moved sound on all four legs. It looked like he was headed for a forever home. But we were all shocked when an X‑Ray of the fetlock joint (where surgery was performed in 2011 to remove bone chips) revealed a new chip. It is impossible to say if this is a new chip from the fetlock joint, or if it is a calcification that formed due to the prior injury/surgery. Either way, there is currently a chip present in the fetlock joint. We consulted with Dr. Bryant, who did the initial surgery, regarding prognosis and treatment. He indicated that since he was moving sound, it was fine to continue Lucky in light work (W/T/C). Continued light work will help him stay sound as long as possible. If at some point in the future, the joint becomes symptomatic his working-life may be extended by surgery to remove the chip.

A separate question was raised at the Pre-Purchase Exam regarding the cloudiness in Lucky’s eyes. Although this cloudiness has been present since Lucky’s intake and has not gotten worse, the examining veterinarian was concerned that it might indicate he was at increased risk for possible future loss of vision. Based on these two issues, the potential adopter decided not to move forward with the adoption, and Lucky was placed on medical hold to give us time to investigate further.

Eye Exam

Eye Exam

A few weeks ago, Lucky underwent a thorough eye examination, performed by an Equine Ophthalmologist, Dr. Victoria Jones of Northwest Animal Eye Specialists. Dr. Jones’ report brought good news for Lucky’s current and future vision status. The exam and diagnostics confirmed that Lucky’s cloudiness is scar tissue from two separate previous injuries. It is not currently affecting his vision, and there is no reason to think that he’s at increased risk for future vision loss. This was a huge relief!

Lucky has been removed from medical hold and is once again available for adoption. Currently, he continues to be worked lightly and is moving sound. He does exhibit some occasional stiffness behind, and a generous donor has offered to fund a trial of Pentosan injections.

Lucky has been discarded by his owners twice in his short life. But since his return to SAFE, he has proven himself to be a solid citizen who is happy to work for a living. He put in a very solid performance at the 2014 SAFE show, where his behavior was exemplary and he earned ribbons in halter, under saddle, and dressage classes. Everyone who works with Lucky has nothing but glowing things to say about his behavior and his work ethic, not to mention his stunning good looks! He deserves a loyal adopter of his own, and a forever home. His ideal adopter is a confident rider who is willing to keep him in steady work and training, and monitor his comfort and soundness as time goes on. Are you ready to get Lucky?

Training Update for Bucky B Lucky!

Lucky has had a recent change of scenery, moving from Dutch Mills Farm up to White Birch Farm, where he will continue his under saddle work with trainer Melonie Rainey. We would like to thank Helga Roberts at Dutch Mills for everything she’s done for Lucky during his stay there. She’s been his trainer, his advocate, and his friend, and we know that she will miss him a lot. We’re also grateful to Melonie for once again offering to help a SAFE horse and we hope that he will find a permanent home soon.

Helga gave us this update on Lucky after his recent move:
Lucky is continuing his education as a dressage horse. He is a wonderful mover who has gaits that will definitely get you noticed in the dressage ring. At this stage in his training, he is definitely ready for a confident rider who is looking for a super fun horse to take to shows, clinics and maybe a trail or two! He is a perfect gentleman in the barn and outside, easy to handle, bathe, clip and groom. Walk/trot/canter both directions, leg yields and has started some lateral movements. 

Lucky enjoys daily turn-out and I think this is very important for any horse to have the ability to spend several hours a day outside. Like many other OTTBs I have worked with, Lucky is a breeze to deal with, as long as he is worked regularly and fairly. Truthfully even when he had several weeks off (through no fault of his own!) he didn’t change one bit as far as handling goes. I lunged him one day and got back on the next day, without having lost any training. He is really a joy to be around!

If you like them tall dark and handsome, this might be your man!

Lucky at the SAFE Benefit Horse Show!

Lucky came to the SAFE Horse Show with Helga Roberts and the team from Dutch Mills Farm. Upon his arrival, he found the show environment to be somewhat electrifying, but after about an hour of handwalking to give him the opportunity to look at all the activity, he calmed down enough for Helga to ride him. He did two dressage tests — one in the Indoor arena in front of judge Paige Ruehl, the other in the outdoor court in front of judge Sonja Vracko. He scored 65% on his Intro C test — good enough for 3rd place — and a 61.667 on Training Level 1, which got him 4th place in the class. All in all it was a good outing for our Lucky.

At the show, Lucky was reunited with his former owners from Emerald Downs, Jan and Keith Swaggerty of SWAG Stables. The Swaggertys lost Bucky B Lucky to a claim, but played an instrumental part in helping Jet Parrett get him out of the auction where he landed and into the hands of SAFE. It was a touching reunion. The Swaggertys will be joining us in September when Emerald Downs debuts their feature video “Where Are They Now” about Bucky B Lucky, stay tuned for more information about that upcoming event.

Here are some photos from the show, taken by photographer Bobbie Climer:

Lucky Training Update

Lucky loves Allison

Lucky loves Allison

Lucky continues to do well in his work with Helga Roberts at Dutch Mills Farm. Recently she had this to say about his behavior and his attitude:

Lucky has been at my barn since the beginning of June and has not shown ANY bad barn behavior. He gets turned out every day, from 7am until about 3pm, he is super friendly with the other horses, respects the hot wire and has been nothing but a good boy to lead from the barn to pastures and back. He has stood like a champ in the cross-ties and has been good for bathing, he was better than several other horses in the barn for the shoer! I can go in his stall to put a blanket on if I want, I can even turn my back on him and never, not once has he tried to bite me or kick me. I will never say any one horse will absolutely NOT bite — never say never — but Lucky has not shown ANY dangerous behavior. He is a super boy in his stall: cleaning it is a breeze as he poops on one pile and pees right next to it, LOVE it! While in the arena, he is still green, doesn’t always do exactly what was asked (might try to turn when not asked) he might put his head up (think giraffe!) and sometimes he doesn’t move off my leg. Is that really all that bad? Most days at least one horse that I ride will try one of these behaviors, and then just you explain that that is NOT what you are looking for. That is what TRAINING a horse means: you explain, they ask questions, you explain again, they will test to make sure that is what you mean, you explain again. Simple as that. Is Lucky a saint? NO, I am sure that if left bored he would find something to do, but even when he had a week off he didn’t turn into a devil!”

AT Sunday’s Open House, we had the pleasure of meeting a couple of Helga’s students, one of who told us that whenever Helga rides Lucky, everyone in the barn just stops and stares, his movement is so beautiful! We can’t wait to see Lucky & Helga in action at the SAFE show!!

Lucky training update

Bucky B Lucky was moved into foster care with Helga Roberts at Dutch Mills Farm to continue his dressage training. We just got this wonderful update from Helga and we’re really pleased that he’s doing so well for her! SAFE is so fortunate to have Helga working with our horses and we know that Lucky will benefit immensely from working with her.

Lucky has been here now for just a little over 2 weeks, the first week he just got to hang out in the turnout and eats lots of grass! He immediately bonded with his neighbor, Auburn Express, who is also a bay OTTB, but a bit smaller than Lucky, and about the same age. Who knows, maybe they knew each other from the track! Lucky settled right in, he has been nothing but friendly in his stall, loves to be groomed and even though sometimes he doesn’t always pay perfect attention, leads well. He stands in the cross-ties like a champ and had his farrier appointment today; he stood perfect and was a pleasure for the farrier the whole time! He has been super good on the lunge line, never pulling, always picking up the correct leads.

Under saddle he did check to make sure that I REALLY wanted him to go forward (tried to stop a few times) but after some persuasive kicks he has been a willing partner. He is not spooky at all, doesn’t look at the horses next to the arena and even though he feels green as far as steering goes he is perfectly ok with trying anything! His canter needs some work, as he wants to break out of it on occasion, but that too, I am sure, will come along quickly. He has not once offered to rear or buck, he really hasn’t done anything naughty besides the usual “test-period.” So far, everyone in the barn quite likes the tall dark guy! I am hoping to bring him to the SAFE show to ride him in some dressage tests!

Before leaving SAFE Harbor Stables, Lucky was ridden a few times by Marita E who is a dressage rider and a friend of SAFE trainer Brittney Stewart. Marita had this to say about Lucky:

I had the pleasure of helping Brittney ride him for a short time and I have to say that I am so envious of whoever winds up with Lucky! He is such a special, talented horse and a good guy all around.

Lucky and Kat Go on a Trail Ride

Lucky and Kat enjoyed a trail ride today at the Redmond Watershed. Lucky might not have been out on the trails before, but he handled the 2 hour ride like a pro. Brittney shot this video while riding him on a completely loose rein. 

Lucky and Kat crossed at least 6 different bridges and took turns leading the way. Lucky was a good boy who did not balk at one bridge, but did look at a few fallen logs with a skeptical eye, but Brittney had him on the buckle for a majority of the ride.

Assessing Bucky B Lucky

Bucky B Lucky

Bucky B Lucky was returned to SAFE nearly two months ago. His previous adopter had many ups and downs with him, but in the end, returned him to us citing behavioral problems including rearing under saddle and striking on the ground. From the information we were able to gather about his time as an adopted horse, it seemed that for the most part, he was well behaved while in steady training and work, and problematic when allowed too much free time and not enough discipline. These observations have held up with the behaviors we’ve seen from him since he arrived at SAFE Harbor. When he’s good, he’s very good, but he’s bad, he can be pretty naughty.

Lucky has some very bad habits that he likes to pull on the ground. He bit our trainer, Brittney, when she turned her back on him in his stall, and he’s shown a real talent for cow kicking in the cross ties on more than one occasion. He’s been quickly and strongly reprimanded for these behaviors, but the last time he tried to cow kick Brittney he let out a little TB squeal as he did it, like he was playing gelding games with another horse. Again, it was quickly made very clear to him that that was NOT acceptable, but we all know that he’s going to continue to test and challenge the people who handle him because that is what some young, lively Thoroughbreds do. Lesson learned: don’t turn your back on him, and don’t let your guard down around him.

Under saddle, Lucky has quite a bit of talent, and has the potential to be successful in the dressage arena. But he’s not an easy ride, especially if his rider wants to correct him or adjust his preferred way of going. For example, Brittney rode him today and at the beginning of the ride, he was moving crookedly with his haunches to right, popping his right shoulder and trying to root at the reins. When Brittney made a few tweaks to get him into a straighter frame, he threw a big fuss about it. She stood up to him and told him no a few times, and then he relented…ending his temper tantrum and allowing her to readjust him little by little until he was moving straighter and using his body more correctly. By the end of the ride, he was swinging out and starting to lift his back. Brittney ended up with better movement from him than she was expecting, and they ended the ride with Lucky moving like a lovely, enjoyable dressage horse.

Brittney is an experienced rider, and she’s known many dressage horses who require a “discussion” before submitting to their rider’s direction and giving their best under saddle. Sometimes this means a sweaty, exhausting ride or lesson, but in the end, horses learn what they can and can’t get away with. Lucky’s ride today was a challenge but Brittney will ride him three more times this week and she predicts that things will be better each time. The mistake would be letting him get away with bad behavior. She feels pretty certain that if she did, he’d be back to trying to rear in no time. He’s a horse that needs a strong and confident rider, someone who can make things very clear to him and set him up for success under saddle.

We’ll be making a decision soon about offering Lucky up for adoption, and we’ll likely be looking for an experienced rider who is willing and able to keep this horse in training and keep him on the straight and narrow. For the right person, Bucky B Lucky will make a great mount and a great friend. He’s a Thoroughbred, after all, with the heart of a champion and the body of an athlete. He’s also a lot of horse!

We’ve gotten the word today that Emerald Downs, where Bucky B Lucky raced, wants to feature him in an upcoming segment called “Where are they now?” If you’re not already familiar with Lucky’s story, there is a very moving account of his rescue from the auction Kill Pen written by Jeannette Parrett called Super (Horse) Saver. He was also the subject of an article in the Seattle Times called Rescue Groups Save Racehorses from Slaughterhouses and a KCTS-TV9 feature called “Stable to Table.”

Checking in on Bucky B Lucky

Stopped by SAFE Harbor this afternoon to visit Bucky B Lucky, who is looking as handsome as ever. He’s tough to photograph because he just wants come up and say hello! I got the best photos from outside the fence! After his photo session, he got to enjoy a little bit of hand grazing on the new grass growing just outside his paddock fence. A nice visit!

Lucky Update

Lucky_03_04_13Lucky and Brittney, enjoying the sunshine today at Safe Harbor. Brittney reports Lucky has been super so far and is several rides into his rehab. Lucky will receive 30–60 days of one-on-one time with Brittney before we make him available for adoption. So far, with consistent, no-nonsense, handling by an experienced handler Lucky is right on track to be available for adoption again soon.

The return of Bucky B Lucky

We have an old friend back in the herd…Bucky B Lucky has been returned to SAFE. He will be undergoing some remedial training and vet care before he will be once again offered for adoption as a SAFE horse.

It is our intention — and our fondest hope — that when a SAFE horse is adopted, it has a home for life. That is why we put so much care and effort into our adoption process, and why we work so hard to ensure the best possible match for both horse and human. We look for adopters who are willing and able to make a commitment to their new horse, through good times and bad, and who will care for the horse to the best of their ability until the day the horse is laid to rest. We feel that all horses deserve safety and stability in their lives, and the last thing we want is to see a horse that we have rescued end up in a bad situation once again.

So we do our best to find “forever homes” for our horses.But despite our best efforts, not every horse we place will end up in a home for life. It doesn’t happen often, fortunately, but occasionally we’ll be contacted by an adopter who lets us know that they can no longer keep their horse. Sometimes it’s because of a change in the adopter’s life and sometimes it’s because of a problem with the horse. We assess these situations on an individual basis, and try our best to work with the adopter to come up with a reasonable solution. If the horse needs to be rehomed, we ask that the adopter exercise the same care and caution in finding a new home as we do when we evaluate a potential adopter—by asking questions, checking references, and conducting a site visit of the new home. We also ask the new owner to sign an Adoption Contract with SAFE before taking the horse. This is an attempt to ensure that the horse ends up in a good environment, and we ask this of our adopters strictly out of concern for the future well-being of the horse.

Bucky B Lucky’s adoption, which took place in October 2011, seemed like a match made in heaven. His adopter was someone who had ridden for more than 23 years, had experience with green horses, and had even taught lessons in lower level dressage. She came to us looking for a young Thoroughbred or warmblood gelding who was tall enough for her and suitable for competition in dressage. Lucky was 5 years old at the time of the adoption, and while he was fairly calm and easy to handle, he was also a young horse straight off the track who would certainly benefit from additional training and a steady program of work. The adopter assured us she would continue his training and she seemed quite capable of giving Lucky the consistent work and training that a young Thoroughbred needs to succeed.

In May 2012, Lucky’s adopter notified us that due to some changes in her life, including a fairly serious back injury, she was having trouble keeping Lucky in consistent work. She asked us for some trainer recommendations, and we discussed her options for rehoming him at that time. She began working with one of the trainers we recommended, and soon let us know that things with the new trainer were working out, and that she did not wish to rehome him after all. In November 2012, we got a very happy update from her, along with some terrific photos of her and Lucky in the arena, saying that things were going very well and that she was very pleased with his progress. (Note: According to the trainer and others at the barn where Lucky was boarded, Lucky continued to do very well with regular rides from the trainer, until he was suddenly taken out of training in late January.)

Imagine our surprise, then, when in early February 2013, we were contacted, not by the adopter, but by a local barn owner, telling us that Lucky was now being boarded at her facility, that he was having behavioral problems including rearing and striking, and that she would like to return him to SAFE. Our attempts to communicate directly with the adopter from this point out were thwarted by the barn owner, who insisted that SAFE had acted “unethically” in its adoption of Lucky and that we had treated the adopter poorly when she attempted to give the horse back in May 2012. The situation went from bad to worse when the barn owner threatened to have Lucky “shipped to one of the carnivore rescues where he will be shot and fed to the animals.”  Fearing for Lucky’s safety, we immediately made arrangements to pick him up from the boarding facility. Inexplicably, the barn owner actually physically assaulted the SAFE representative who went to pick up the horse, after the SAFE representative indicated that she did not wish to discuss the terms of the Surrender Agreement with the barn owner.

The good news is that Bucky B Lucky is back at SAFE and he is…safe. Our trainer, Brittney Stewart, evaluated him under saddle and has determined that he will need 30–60 days of re-training under saddle before we can even think about offering him for adoption. Brittney has him in “boot camp” and he is not allowed to display any misbehavior under saddle or on the ground. The first time she rode him, he did make a few attempts to rear but after sharp correction, gave that up fairly quickly. She’s seen very little in the way of resistance or disobedience from him since. She has seen nothing to indicate that there are severe behavioral problems in Lucky, just a horse that was not ridden consistently who developed some bad habits designed to intimidate his rider and get himself out of work. This is why young Thoroughbred horses are not for everyone — most of them thrive on hard work and in the absence of that, they can start to act out. This does not make them “bad ponies.”

It’s disappointing to us when an adoption fails, not only because we had hoped for so much better for the horse, but also because a horse returning to SAFE means that a spot is being taken away from a neglected or starved horse that really needs our help. We are sharing Lucky’s story because we want you to understand why we are so particular about choosing adopters for our horses and why we are so concerned about matching the right horse to the right person. Lucky’s story also illustrates why we stress the importance of owner responsibility: Lucky left SAFE 16 months ago as a track-broke green thoroughbred with a lot of potential, and returns to us as a horse with behavioral problems that need to be trained out of him, who now has a failed adoption on his record. We have horses available for adoption that can go several days without being worked. We have others that must stay in consistent work in order to be successful. Lucky was one that needed work and training, and he did not get it. The responsibility for Lucky’s problems falls squarely on the shoulders of his former adopter. And by allowing her barn owner to bully us and threaten our horse’s life, Lucky’s adopter is now the only one who will not be paying for her mistakes.

Below — video of Lucky and Strider at SAFE Harbor shortly after Lucky’s arrival. They seem quite fond of each other!

Do you remember Bucky B Lucky?

Here’s a great update and some photos of SAFE Alumni Bucky B Lucky:

Lucky is doing wonderfully! He is currently in moderate work developing his skills in Dressage, and remains sound and happy. He loves his barn, and his barn buddies. We are working with Heather Roe for his training, and it seems to be a great match for both of us. Lucky is the sweetest guy, loves his massages and is willing to try anything. I am so happy with him and have included a few pictures from the last few months. Thanks for everything you do, SAFE! Providing horses with the care and rehab they need until they they are matched with their forever people is a huge task, and is greatly appreciated by both the horses and the people who’s lives are changed by them.

Bucky B Lucky

breed: Thoroughbred
color: dark bay, no markings
age: 6 (born March 21, 2005)
sex: gelding
height: 16.2 hh

Lucky is track broke and would be suitable for someone with intermediate riding skills.

Bucky B Lucky is an off the track Thoroughbred who raced from age 2 to 4. He is super sweet with a puppy-dog personality. Quiet and willing with a good mind, suitable for intermediate rider.  Had surgery in April of 2011 to remove bone chips in his left front fetlock.  Has completed his rehabilitation and is back in regular work, and has been cleared for dressage or flatwork.

Lucky update — 8/20/11

It’s been a while since we posted an update on Bucky B Lucky — mostly because there hasn’t been much to tell!  Lucky had his surgery at Pilchuck on April 18th to remove the bone chips in his left front fetlock.  The surgery was successful and while he still has some arthritis and bony remodeling in the fetlock area, he is sound and will be able to perform in dressage or pleasure/flatwork at all three gaits.  He spent 3 months on stall rest with hand walking and paddock rest, and has been back out in full turnout for about a month now, and also started back into work.   He continues to do well and is ready to be offered for adoption!  I will work on getting some pictures and video of him under saddle soon.  He looks fantastic!

Lucky update

Lucky is doing fabulous! He has graduated to turnout in the round pen which he is quite happy about.  He tolerates stall rest very well, but he’s a young, active horse with a lot of energy, so actually getting some time to stretch his legs makes him much more sensible.  He will be ready to come back to our main facility in another week or two.

Lucky — post-surgery update

Lucky after his surgery, on stall rest at NWESC

Lucky made it through his surgery with flying colors.  Dr. Bryant said he removed some HUGE chips and Lucky should be feeling much better without them.  The day after the surgery he was moved to NWESC to start his rehabilitation, which begins with stall rest and daily bandaging.  So far, Lucky is handling his stall rest like a pro, and is calm and quiet and his normal sweet self.  The wound is healing well and is kept wrapped.

Bucky B Lucky update — April 17

We had an emergency call with Dr. Hannah last week when Corona managed to crib a board  so much that it broke, and then somehow Lucky managed to gouge himself on the pointed end of the board. He’s fine, but wasn’t too happy about it being touched for a few days to be cleaned. By the weekend he was fine and it was healing nicely, and Victoria even managed one more ride on him before he goes off to Pilchuck tomorrow for his surgery, which is on Tuesday. After the surgery, he will be headed to NWESC for his rehab. He will be resting for about 4 months…hopefully he won’t be too much of a handful!  He does like to paw with his front feet like Zenyatta does when he is feeling full of himself, so I am thinking stall-rest and hand-walking should be interesting!

SAFE Journal — Feb 20, 2011

Today was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the air was crisp and clean, and horses were enjoying the weather as well.  Today, Lexi went off on her next adventure in life!  We were sad to say goodbye, but so happy to see her finally find her forever home.  Cindy is SO happy to bring Lexi home!

Our volunteer Victoria, who last weekend had her first lesson on Lucky, which was, shall we say, a little harrowing (Lucky was having a TB moment), decided to be brave and give him another try, and he repaid her kindly by being the generally quiet, mild-mannered TB we know him to be.  She was able to really ride him today, and other than really needing to work on establishing “go forward” (I think this is the first TB I have encountered that actually had trouble with this concept), he was calm and relaxed and a very good boy for her.

We also had a potential adopter come out and ride Baxter in a lesson today with Andrea, our trainer.  Andrea got on him first so she could show her how he went and he was being a little bit sulky today about forward (no bucking, just sucking back), so she worked him through a little of that and then the potential adopter got on him and did a super job with him!  She was exactly the type of rider he needs, someone who is not afraid to throw away the reins and really push him forward, into a gallop if needed, when he gets a little behind the leg.  After her lesson, she rode him around bareback to cool him out.  She is talking about coming back and riding him again, so hopefully we will be seeing her again!

Sara had a lesson on Zanadu today that also went really well.  They are using trot poles to help with the canter departs and it seems to help her a lot.  No more kicking out in the departs and she is picking up the correct lead right when asked, not rushing into the canter like she was before.   I didn’t get any pictures, but did get some video, which I will post tomorrow once I figure out how to get it off my phone.  I also got some video of Baxter and Lucky.

Here are some pictures from the day!

Lucky Update — Feb 17, 2011

Today, Dr. Bryant from Pilchuck Hospital came out and took follow-up xrays on Lucky’s injury to his left front fetlock.  When he took xrays last May, he was less concerned about the bone chips (he has several, but all could be easily removed) than he was about the fact that Lucky appeared to have had a fracture to the cannon bone that was still healing and there was significant remodeling going on in that area.  He cautioned that even if surgery was done to remove the bone chips, that he still may be very limited as far as riding potential because of the previous injury.  He recommended follow-up xrays in several months to see how the injury had healed before recommending surgery.

Today we went ahead and had the leg re-xrayed and Dr. Bryant was very pleased with the results.  The area of significant concern on his cannon bone has filled in and the bone has smoothed out as it healed, which is exactly what he wanted to see.  The chips are very visible and the surgery to remove them should be fairly straight-forward.  While he will never be a jumping prospect, with surgery he could easily do lower-level dressage or pleasure riding.  He said that he doesn’t have a lot of flexibility in his fetlock joint, so he may show some gait irregularity that could limit him in dressage, but I asked if it would be any different than he moves now and he said no — well I cannot see any different in his gait at all so I do not think this is anything that will limit him for dressage.

I also had him take a second look at his eyes, and he did recommend that an equine ophthalmologist take a look at him just to make sure it is not a degenerative condition.  His eyes look no worse than they did when he came in, with quite a bit of cloudiness in his left eye and just a slight amount in his right eye, but in speaking with one of his previous owners she did not recall any injury, just that the cloudiness appeared slowly over time, and when she owned him it did not exist in the right eye.  So we’ll probably schedule that for him at some point as well.

Here are the xrays, you can clearly see the chips (there are several, you see different ones depending on the angle of the xray).

Viewing Parties for Bucky B Lucky’s TV Premier!

Bucky B Lucky — 3 1/2 months post-rescue

SAFE will be hosting two separate viewing parties for Lucky’s big debut as a TV star!  As we mentioned previously, PBS will be doing a story on what happens to racehorses after their racing careers are over, and Bucky B Lucky will be featured prominently in this story.  On Friday, Feb. 18th, the story, as part of a regular show called “KCTS Connects”, will air on PBS (Channel 9 or 109 for Comcast customers) from 7:00–7:30.  One will be held in Monroe at the Fire Station and one will be held at a barn in Auburn which has a nice clubhouse area and the events will run from 6:30–8:00pm.  Please visit our Facebook page for more details on the events and to RSVP to one of our parties!  There is no cost for these events and there will be snacks and beverages provided.  This is an opportunity to learn a little bit about what SAFE does but mostly its just a chance to get together with other horse-friendly folks and do what we do best…talk about horses!  Hope to see you all there, and if you can’t make it, I hope you watch the story at home or make arrangements to record it and watch it later!

Lucky Update — Feb. 13, 2011

We also had one of our newer volunteers Victoria ride Lucky for the first time in a lesson.  Lucky however, was having a “Thoroughbred day” — his brain was simply not in the game today and he was fidgety, agitated, and unable to concentrate.  Lunging settled him temporarily, but he got worked up again when Victoria got on and most of the lesson was spent just trying to get him to relax and go forward.  She did a nice job with him and got some nice moments with him (see photos below), but he never really settled down.  Afterwards, we took his tack off and he rolled…and rolled…and rolled!  Then he ran around like a maniac and we couldn’t catch him for some time and by that time he was lathered with sweat.  Silly boy!  He certainly didn’t make the best impression on Victoria, who is one of his biggest fans and was so excited to ride him, but it was truly out of character for him and I am chalking it up to not having turnout outside of his paddock for a few days as well as being very itchy as he has started shedding and I think all he was thinking about was rolling most of the lesson.

Also Lucky-related, we will be hosting several public viewing parties for Lucky’s big TV event on Friday night!  We are hoping to host a few of them — one in Monroe, one in the Tacoma area, and possibly one in the Eastside area as well.  The idea is just to get some of our fans and supporters together to watch the show, have some snacks, listen to us talk briefly about SAFE and then hang out for a while after the show and socialize…what horse people love to do best!  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Bucky B Lucky: a TV Star!

January 5th was an exciting day for SAFE and Bucky B Lucky.

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by a reporter named Jenny Cunningham from KCTS‑9  (the Seattle PBS television station). She told us that she was working on a story about what happens to racehorses once they leave the track.  She had seen the Seattle Times article about Lucky and decide to use Bucky B Lucky as the centerpiece of the story.

So on January 5th, Jenny and her film crew came out to SAFE to film Bucky B Lucky for the story. Lucky wasn’t sure what to make out of the camera being pointed at him at first, but he quickly figured out that it meant him no harm. He was friendly and charming, and acted as a great ambassador for off-the-track thoroughbreds.

The show will be aired in early February on KCTS‑9 (we’ll update this when the date gets closer)

Monroe Monitor: The Killing of Kings

The Killing of Kings
by Caiti Raimer
Published Nov 15 2010

For two years I’ve volunteered at S.A.F.E (Save A Forgotten Equine). A horse came to us one day, a victim of the racing world. His name is Bucky B Lucky; he is the grandson of Seattle Slew, and the sweetest gelding you could ever hope to meet. He was bought and sold, changing owners multiple times, he was a barn favorite at each. Read the full article at the Monroe Monitor

Caiti Raimer is 17 years old and is a volunteer at SAFE. According to the Monroe Monitor, this story was the most commented on article they’ve ever published.

Lucky Update from Nov 14 2010

Had a visit today from one of Bucky B Lucky’s former part-owners. Tara confirmed that Lucky was always a barn sweetheart. She also brought two win pictures of Lucky that his future adopter will get to keep. Very cool, thank you Tara!

This might be a great time to share some pictures of Bucky B Lucky at Emerald Downs where he was a race horse. The first two pictures are from Opening Day 2009 and Lucky finished 2nd in his race that day. Interestingly, Jet and Bonnie from SAFE were at the track that night as guests of SWAG Stables and got to join Lucky’s owners in the paddock prior to his race. Little did we know at the time that this strapping bay racehorse would some day fall into the wrong hands, nearly go to slaughter, and end up as a SAFE horse!

The rest of the photos were taken the year before, and the winner of Lucky’s race that night was…Bucky B Lucky!

Seattle Times: Rescue Groups Save Racehorses from Slaughterhouses

Mark Harrison/The Seattle Times

Rescue Groups Save Racehorses from Slaughterhouses
by Lynn Thompson
Published Nov 9 2010

Bucky B Lucky, a grandson of Seattle Slew and a former racehorse at Emerald Downs, was rescued before he was to be transported to Canada for slaughter. The Humane Society says many racehorses are butchered when their racing careers are over. Read the full article at SeattleTimes.com

Lucky Update from Oct 16, 2010

Lucky First RideI rode Lucky today for the first time. We would have been on him sooner but he was pretty sore on his feet until we finally put front shoes and pads on him, and then we couldn’t seem to go a day without him pulling one of them. But we have them back on, plus bell boots, so hopefully they will stay now.

Lucky was super under saddle. Really, really nice horse. Great to saddle, not girthy, opened his mouth right up for the bit. Stood quietly while I mounted. Lunged, but tense on the lungeline and so I didn’t do much lunging. Once I was on the most surprising discovery was that he was actually quite lazy. Not balky at all, he would go forward, but at a rather leisurely pace. He didn’t really seem to understand how to move forward off the leg, but never felt unsafe or sulky about going forward. After getting tired of thumping him with my legs I picked up a jumping bat, which he also didn’t care much about, but did inspire him to move a little more forward and we walked and trotted for 20 minutes or so both directions. He’s green, but he steers fairly well and is very willing. He did not feel at all lame…but he needs to learn to relax into the contact and use his back a bit more before his stride will really open up and feel nice, right now it feels a bit short and stiff. But that’s tension…not lameness.

After I rode him a bit one of our volunteers Katie (who is a beginner) got on him and walked him around for a while and he was just as calm and relaxed as he was for me. Really nice horse…hard to believe he was recently off the track, he was just so calm and laid back. I am really hopeful for him now — this is a nice horse who is sound enough for easy trail riding — and probably calm enough for a relative novice to ride safely as well.

Lucky Update from July 28, 2010

Just wanted to give an update on Lucky. He’s been transitioned off his racing plates and is currently barefoot. He is a bit sore and did blow a big abcess right away but is doing well now and sporting a barefoot trim. All his cuts and dings have healed and he is living with my yearling that he gets to boss around. He has finally started to gain weight and look much better, for a while there he wasn’t gaining much and looked generally unthrifty with poor coat quality and just a bit run-down. This is to be expected as he goes through his letdown period from the racetrack. I will try to get some updated pictures this weekend, but he remains a very sweet boy and also continues to appear quite sound as he trots and gallops around his pasture. The plan is to give him the rest of the summer to let down from the track and get used to the pleasure horse lifestyle, then start working with him under saddle lightly this fall.

Lucky Update from May 13, 2010

Dr. Bryant left a little bit ago. Overall the news is good…not great, but good.

Lucky has two bone chips in his left front ankle. One is quite large and completely detached, the other is smaller and adhered to the bone. He also has significant remodeling going on on both sides of his cannon bone above the joint indicating that his body is still healing from a fracture or some type of trauma (no fracture was evident but it may have filled in already).

Prognosis: without doing anything, Lucky is pasture sound and could be a light-riding trail horse, walking and maybe a little trotting. Chances of arthritis settling in at some point limiting him further are likely as he ages. He can be turned out (already is) and does not require any further rehab.

Another option is surgery to remove the chips. This will cost $2300 at Pilchuck. The surgery will give him a little more ridability (maybe more trotting, some cantering) and will prolong his usage. However, it will not make him suitable for dressage or arena work.

One caveat to that is if the remodeling in the cannon bone stops and smooths out as it heals…in that case he may be upgraded to arena work or dressage (no jumping ever) if he has the surgery to remove the chips. Dr. Bryant recommended follow-up xrays to check the status of the healing in 4–6 months.

The lump on his right hind cannon bone is old and cold, he said there was probably a trauma or impact there at some point but he did not think it was a concern and we did not xray it.

On to the eyes — the left is completely cloudy, and the right has partial cloudiness. Dr. Bryant felt they were two separate events, with the right eye injury being older than the left, which is more recent and we have since learned happened when he pulled back in the cross-ties, and the snap hit him in the eye. He stained both eyes and neither took any stain, so neither are a long-term concern. He can see just fine although his vision may be a little cloudy if he looks to the right on the right eye.

Lucky is happily turned out into a paddock right now, and tomorrow I’ll turn him out on some grass. Oh, and can I say, he was a star patient? For a horse that has been in a stall for almost a week, he was super. Dr. Bryant had me trot him in hand when we first took him out of the stall and I was a little worried he was going to be a handful but he just trotted along calmly beside me, and stood very still for his xrays without any sedation even though he really wanted grass. This horse has a STELLAR temperament and is going to make someone a great partner!

Lucky Update from May 8, 2010

Lucky is SUCH a sweet boy, with great manners, very neat and tidy in his stall. The LF leg is ugly, and he has a hard lump on his RH as well, just above the fetlock. He’s covered in bites and kicks from the other horses at the auction house. We took him out today for some hand grazing and grooming and he was just so sweet and polite. I really like this horse!

Unfortunately, Lucky appears to be a mild cribber. Not really very determined about it, and mostly I saw him grab and hold the stall rail, but not make that disgusting windsucking sound. (Removed as this behavior has not continued and he is not a cribber). My other concern, other than his LF ankle, is his left eye, which is quite noticably cloudy, although it has no discharge or sign of injury. He seems to see out of it just fine, but its something to add to the list to get checked out. But he’s eating well, settling in well, and getting a lot of admirers.

Lucky Photo Gallery — Initial Condition

Photos of Lucky taken just after his rescue from the auction kill pen (click to enlarge)

Bucky B Lucky Background & History

Bucky B Lucky

Bucky B Lucky at the auction house

Bucky B Lucky was born March 21, 2005 in Washington state. A grandson of Seattle Slew, Lucky began his career as a racehorse as a two year old and continued racing until the age of four. In 18 starts at Emerald Downs, he had three wins, four seconds and two third place finishes. He earned a total of $20,115 on the track. His last race was on September 25, 2009 and he reportedly retired after that due to the fact that had been diagnosed with bone chips in his left front ankle.

From that point, Lucky’s whereabouts became somewhat of a mystery — until he turned up in the kill pen at the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion, where he had been quietly dropped off on the day after the monthly horse auction. For Lucky, this would have meant a sure death sentence and a trip to the slaughterhouse had he not been noticed by a rescuer who happened to come by to pick up another horse. A quick check of his lip tattoo revealed his identity, and through the efforts of several people, he ended up at SAFE.

The story of Lucky’s amazing rescue is best told by the person who made it all happen. Click here to visit the Hoofprints on My Heart blog to read the whole story.

Upon his arrival at SAFE, Lucky settled right into his stall and his hay. He seemed quite relaxed and happy to be away from the auction environment, where he got completely beat up by the other horses. He was thin, still wearing racing plates, and had an enlarged and swollen front ankle.