description: 2009 bay Arabian mare
type of rescue: seizure
intake date: 12/20/2012
adoption date: 3/1/2020
length of time with SAFE: 7 years, 2 months

Adopted by Janelle!

Cameo’s Story

Cameo is one of 39 horses seized by Pierce County Animal Control after they were discovered living in filthy, deplorable conditions, trapped in stalls and paddocks piled high with their own waste, in barns with no light and no ventilation. The horses were in large part unhandled and they suffered from a lack of vet and farrier care. Because she did not receive proper handling and training, Cameo was quite wild and difficult to handle when she arrived at SAFE. But with kind and patient handling, she learned to trust us. She made slow but steady progress working with trainer Brittney Stewart and learned to be safely caught, haltered, led, and groomed. Brittney introduced her to the bridle and bit, and in early September, she left for training with Andrea Lucianna. Going to training was initially a difficult experience for Cameo, but Andrea worked with her very slowly and carefully, and gained her trust and acceptance. Thanks to a grant from the ASPCA Equine Fund, we were able to keep Cameo in training for more than 6 months, giving her the time that she needed. When she graduated from training in April 2014, she was going nicely at all three gaits.

Cameo was adopted in 2017 and headed off to become a dressage horse with her new owner. Unfortunately, she became lame. Her adopter was unable to find a new placement for Cameo, and she was returned to SAFE.

Upon returning, we evaluated Cameo’s soundness and started her back in our groundwork and under saddle program. 

Cameo Today

Cameo is a pleasure to work with but she isn’t easy; she is very sensitive and can teach her handler a lot about correct pressure and release. That’s why we were so excited to find her perfect trail riding partner in Janelle in March 2020. We wish them the best!

An Unlikely Pair Finds a Forever Home

An Unlikely Pair Finds a Forever Home

We meet Janelle a few weeks ago when she came to us, looking for a riding horse to join their family. She met Cameo, and It quickly became clear that Cameo and Janelle were perfect for each other. But since Janelle didn’t own any other horses, we were reluctant to adopt her all alone. Cameo loves having friends around, so being alone on a property would not make her happy. Because Janelle wanted to make a perfect home for Cameo, she was open to the idea of adopting a second horse to keep her company, and decided to consider Mara as a companion and friend. But would this mismatched duo live together in peace and harmony? We

We decided to see if Cameo and Mara would get along by turning them out in adjacent paddocks. We then introduced them to each other while in hand, and finally let them out in a big grass area so they could get to know each other while grazing. And to our somewhat astonished and VERY happy surprise, this unlikely pair became buddies! Who could resist Mara’s pint size cuteness and sweet whinnies? Cameo fell in love, and happily accepted her little friend with some nuzzles and chin scratches on her back. Oh, did you not know? It turns out that Shetlands are exactly the right height to get that hard-to-reach itch on the chin… just ask Cameo.

Janelle reports the dynamic duo are getting along well and settling into their new routine at home. We are so thrilled they are safe and happy in their home. They will have a wonderful life and we look forward to many happy updates along the way!

Cameo: Joel Conner Clinic Report

Cameo: Joel Conner Clinic Report

Cameo took part in the first day’s groundwork session of the November Joel Conner Clinic. Here’s what Scott had to say about the experience:

I worked with Cameo for just one day of groundwork. She was the easiest horse I have worked with at SAFE. She took a couple of minutes to size me up and determine if she would respond. 

By offering her a good deal and gently firming up quickly, she responded and I had her attention. She was very responsive to my feel and I found that she moved very easily in a unified circle and very easily went hind quarter to front quarter. She seemed very balanced to me, moved easily and stayed very connected. She is a very sensitive horse. It takes very little to move her. She does seem easily distracted like most Arabians but easily came back to me when I asked for her attention. 

She was a pleasure to work with.

Filling Holes with Cameo

Filling Holes with Cameo

Cameo has been doing very well in her horsemanship training this summer. We realized that there were still some holes in her training, especially issues with her blind spots, and began concentrating on these areas. Cameo was not fond of having ropes touch her hind quarters or wrap around her hind legs. This blind spot can be a scary place for horses and it can be difficult for some horses to accept things moving in that area. So it’s important to help her overcome being startled when things come into her blind spot.

Earlier this year, we started trying to touch Cameo in her blind spots with a lariat rope. At first, it was just too much for her to handle. Simply holding the coiled rope close to her made her to want to jump away. When a volunteer switched the coil from one hand to the other in front of Cameo, she was so afraid she pawed at the rope as they passed in front of her in fear. At the time, we decided it was best to just ride her and put the rope work on hold. We would continue to chip away at her fears and help her become more comfortable by using the flag and tossing her lead line up over her back and haunches.

Months later, I felt it was time to revisit the rope work. Riding has been great but there is always a little bit of flightiness to Cameo. It was time to go back and fill some of the gaps so could we help her turn loose and find more acceptance.

Buck Brannaman wrote a book of groundwork lessons he uses the first time he lays hands on a horse, typically referred to as “The Red Book.” The fundamental exercises in the Red Book are the building blocks to working with horses without creating braces. Cameo was started as a riding horse without going through these fundamentals. While she could be ridden, there was always a bit of evidence that she was not completely okay with it. She seemed to be trying to hold it together, but inside, she was scared. There were little clues: pinning her ears when being mounted, scooting around if a leg touched her side, and wringing her tail, especially at the canter.

After starting the rope work with Cameo, I saw changes right away, but about three days into it, things really started to click for her. I had to be patient and give her the time she needed to fully accept the work but things really started to change. The rope stopped being something to fear or attack. It almost looked like her muscles and skin hung differently on her. She wasn’t stuck with her neck jammed into a tight frame, but instead started stretching out. Her gaits began to float and her hoofbeats became softer.

Cameo is a truly remarkable mare. Her willingness to keep trying, given all the problems she has experienced in her life, is inspiring. As she continues to grow, mature, and overcome her fears, she is transforming into a beautiful partner. I know she will someday find an adopter as wonderful as she is who will give her the support and patience needed to do great things. Until then, she is protected and loved with us at SAFE.

Cameo allowing the rope to wrap along her side and behind her haunches.

Stella and Cameo Meet the Cows and Fancy Gets Started!

Stella and Cameo Meet the Cows and Fancy Gets Started!

We enjoyed an amazing 3 days working with Joel Conner in Ellensburg. Our goal was to get the first rides on Fancy and give Stella and Cameo experience off property. We did that and so much more.

I’m impressed by how well-prepared Fancy was for her first rides and what a peaceful and understanding experience Casey gave to her. She was relaxed and accepting of a rider without issue. She made big changes each day and it was a perfect way to introduce her to carrying a rider. She going to be a phenomenal mare with a very bright future!

Stella blew us all away with her mad cow horse stills! She’s a natural, brave and took right to it! Huge changes in her soft feel and finding a serious stopping power in her hind end!! She is gets right to work off site and settles in to it like she’s at home. Such a gifted mare and Casey has done a fantastic on taking her through the snaffle bit…I dare say I can see her going to the hackamore by the end of the summer!!

Cameo lived through the cows and with Joel’s help got close enough to move them on her own. So much to still sort out for this mare but the experience was perfect to help her issues with leaving and disconnecting. She looks and feels like a completely different horse as this Horsemanship work helps her let down. Balanced, connected and content this mare is going to make it!

We can’t thank Joel enough for his guidance and encouragement. Joel, your support of SAFE, our mission and our horses in inspiring and is such a gift to our community. Thank you for helping us create better lives for our horses and changing the way people see a rescue horse!!

Back in the Saddle with Cameo

Back in the Saddle with Cameo

Terry worked with Cameo in this month’s Joel Conner Clinic. Here’s her report on the progress that she and Kaya have made with this mare:

Cameo was a star pupil at our horsemanship clinic this past weekend. Kaya has been working with her for the past few weeks, conditioning and strengthening her for riding by working in hand over trot poles and through groundwork. We have ridden her a bit too but had not been constant through the winter. Joel helped Cameo and I work through some of her braces while being ridden. She made some significant changes with his help and by Sunday felt and looked like a completely different horse. She was smooth, with a relaxed neck and shoulder, had an absolute lovely soft gait.  She was able to feel easily through the transitions from the walk, trot to the lope and down again. It was a very special weekend for her, and I am excited to see her progress this year.

Kaya did some amazing work with Cameo in our morning groundwork sessions. She had some major breakthroughs and her horsemanship skills are growing in leaps and bounds. Cameo is a pleasure to work with but she isn’t easy! She is very sensitive and can teach her handler a lot about correct pressure and release. It was lovely to see Kaya and Cameo’s bond grow through the weekend. Here is what she had to say about the clinic with Cameo:

I recently started working with Cameo on groundwork and was able to learn with her in the groundwork section of the Joel Conner clinic. This was a great opportunity for me to practice with a super sensitive horse and it was a fun experience! During the first hour or so on Friday, Cameo was spooked by the sound of another horse in the trailer that was practice loading. This moment, combined with the information that she had been difficult to load in the past, led me to believe that we would have our work cut out for us when her turn came to practice loading, but I was pleasantly surprised! Joel worked with Cameo first and his method was so effective. Making outside of the trailer work and inside of the trailer peaceful had a huge effect on Cameo. I continued working on this the next few days and by Sunday, Cameo was practically loading herself and licking and chewing in the back corner of the trailer. This was also a great learning moment for me as Joel showed me how to be safe about loading and get out of the way of danger when necessary.

Cameo and I also worked with a tarp a lot. While she needs more of this exercise, by Sunday, I could throw the tarp over her while she stayed relatively relaxed with an even, balanced walk. The final exercise that Joel had us working on Sunday was one of my all-time favorite moments in a clinic. It was simply working on backing up, but with a focus on getting this movement with as small a cue as possible. At first, I didn’t think much of it; this is one of the first things that Terry taught me, and I felt like I had a really good handle on it. But Joel noticed how on the ball Cameo was and asked that I try to get her to back up without even a perceptible hand motion. Cameo hooked on to this quickly and soon we were backing up off my feel alone. It was kind of indescribable. Being able to look at this horse, whose default is generally looking anywhere but at me, and feeling like she was tuned into my thoughts and waiting for me to ask her to move was amazing. I’m grateful for this experience with Cameo, she is definitely a special horse!

Joel Conner Clinic Report: Cameo

SAFE volunteer Casey worked with Cameo during the groundwork portion of the clinic:

I worked Cameo in the Joel Conner clinic for the first time since she returned to SAFE. The first day her feet were quite stuck and she had changing eyes issues, which resulted in some concerning behaviors, including striking out with her front feet. With Joel’s guidance, I was able to help her work through that trouble and got her feet a bit more free. This was evident on the second day, because she moved out much more comfortably and was better able to reach her front feet and bring them across. On the ground she looks completely sound, and I believe that getting her feet freed and balanced will help her maintain soundness both on the ground and under saddle. Before I ride her, I want to continue to work on freeing up her feet, and get to working on changing eyes so that she becomes more comfortable both mentally and physically. Once she feels like she can move, those concerning behaviors should clear up pretty quickly. She’s a great horse with a lot of try, so I’m really looking forward to working with her.


Adoption Announcement: Cameo!

It may take some time but when the right fit comes into one of our horses lives the adoption process seems to have always been meant to be. This is exactly how it was when Cameo’s adopter Lindsay realized that she couldn’t see her life without this mare in it! We all could see this pair had a special bond so once the decision was made it was with pure joy we matched Cameo with her PERFECT home! She has moved north to a lovely dressage training barn where Lindsay works full time. She has lots of room to run and play and the constant love and devotion of a wonderful owner. We are all so excited to finalize this adoption and send Cameo and Lindsay lots of well wishes for their life together!

Cameo at her new home. Still wearing her breakfast hay!

SAFE Horses at the SAFE Show!

Here are just a few of the photos from Jessica Farren of the current SAFE horses that competed at the SAFE Benefit Horse Show. It was a fabulous weekend of competition, and we all had a marvelous time!

Click to enlarge:

Clinic Photos: Cameo

Trail horses available for adoption!

Here at SAFE, we are enjoying the wonderful sunshine by exploring the trails at Farrel-McWhirter Park next door. The horses love to get outside and get a break from arena work. Last week, both King and Stevie went out for their first trail rides and did perfect! We had a nice steady group to help them along, with Anderson in the lead and Cameo bringing up the rear. You can bet we’ll be enjoying many warm days this summer walking in the cool forest with these horses. They all are amazing and more than ready for new homes!

Photo Update: Cameo

Cameo’s Horse Show Debut

What a superstar Cameo was for her first show! She looked great and continues to amaze us this year. Lindsay is doing great with her training and not only got Cameo comfortable with the trailer but also has taken her on a few trail rides! Cameo is ready to meet prospective adopters! Are you ready to take her home?

Show Update: Cameo & Jewel

This past weekend Cameo and Jewel went to their first show of the season at the ride and review at Hollywood Hills Saddle Club. It was Cameo’s first show and she did amazing! Her volunteer rider Lindsay has been working on her trailer skills and our little frightened Arabian mare did a fabulous job. She has really grown up!

The ride and review was a great start to the show year. They were able to run through their tests and then had a 30 minute lesson with the judge. Both riders said that the feedback from the judge was great and they felt really good about how the horses did and what they can work on for next time. Here are some photos of girls during their lesson:

Jewel and Casey:

Cameo & Lindsay:

Cameo: Joel Conner Clinic Update

This was Lindsay’s first clinic with Joel and Cameo. They did very well and it was a great experience for Cameo. Here is what Lindsay had to say about Cameo in the clinic:

Cameo was a very good girl in the Joel clinic! She started out a little tense — lots of people and horses — but the exercises really helped her balance and settle in mind and body. We did lots of one rein stops, moving hindquarters and forequarters, backing, and working on a loose rein. Trying to work on listening to my seat, getting her off the forehand, and not taking flight! Cameo is smart, sweet, sensitive and spunky and she puts 100% in everything she does. Overall, it was a positive learning experience for both of us and we have plenty work yet to do but I’m excited to continue practicing these techniques in my work with her!


Below: Cameo and Prince work well in close quarters! Who would ever believe that Cameo would allow something like this! Amazing progress!!!!


Training & Health Update: Cameo

Cameo is coming along really well in her rehab work and she is now ready for the weight of a rider. Volunteer rider Lindsay was excited to help Cameo take this next step and helped her have a happy and easy ride. Here is a video of her first ride back:


Training Update: Cameo

Cameo was a doll at the last open house, making new friends with everyone who stopped in to see her. She loves her outside stall where she can see all that is going on at the farm and has her buddy Stella always within sight. The volunteer riders have been working steadily to get her strong and ready to ride. She has been working on trot poles and is up to 20 mins of trot work with saddling. She has been quiet and has a great work expression. We will be looking to saddling her and adding rider weight and increasing the trot under saddle over the next month. Here is a little bit from her training workout on Monday with volunteer rider Erika:

Cam looked so great today! We did our walking and trotting with the K&S on…We went back over to the mounting block and practiced having weight over the back, having the saddle jiggle, and having the stirrups moving around at her sides. She did GREAT!!!!”

Cameo: New Photos July 2016

Here are some GORGEOUS new photos of Cameo. Thank you Jessica Farren for the lovely shots!

Check in with Cameo!

Cameo_05_09_2016_03Cameo is getting back to work and doing very well. We are keeping things easy to start with, working on groundwork, saddling, and hooking up with her handlers. Already we are seeing good changes! Here is an update from her volunteer rider Claire:

Cameo has come a long way in just a few sessions I’ve been able to work with her. Since she was stuck in a stall for so long recovering from her injury, she had a lot of excess energy to burn off, which was very apparent when I worked with her. A few weeks ago, I would saddle her (which she was initially troubled about), then turn her loose in the round pen. She would gallop around, unbalanced, and refuse to look at me. She also spooked consistently at one end of the round pen and wouldn’t go near it. Eventually, I was able to get her to calm down and we ended on a good note (even if she was super sweaty since she is so out of shape!). But the last time I worked with her, it was night and day. She was totally comfortable being saddled, moved out really nicely and calmly in the round pen, and even went to the side of the round pen that she was afraid of. She was listening to me the whole time, and she walked and trotted with me without a halter on. She is incredibly smart and it is a pleasure to work with her!”

Here are some lovely photos that Jessica Farren took of Claire and Cameo working in the round pen this week. What a BEAUTIFUL mare Cameo has become!


Cameo: Making Progress, Getting Stronger

Cameo at the Holiday Open House.

Cameo at the Holiday Open House.

Cameo continues to make good progress in her rehab from last July’s injury. Volunteers have been walking and trotting her in hand for the past several months. Cameo is a pretty good girl for her exercise sessions but she is easily spooked if there is too much noise or commotion near the arena, so her handlers have to stay on their toes. 

We are now able to saddle her up for short walks with a rider on board. She will occasionally show some stiffness afterwards, but overall her progression has been uneventful and steady. Her walks under saddle are progressively getting longer and very soon, we’ll start trotting her.

In order to keep her quiet, we have not been turning Cameo out. Winter turnout at Safe Harbor takes place mostly in the covered arena. Once we get the all clear from Dr. Fleck, she’ll have the opportunity to spend time out in the arena with a calm horse as a buddy.

Cameo is a very smart girl and she knows her people.  If you are new to her, or if you are a little bit timid in her presence, she will definitely take note of it! She takes direction well but you must be aware of her and establish a kind leadership with her from the beginning.  

We have a volunteer horse masseuse, Lori M, visiting Safe Harbor once a week and Cameo is enjoying her gentle massage work. Cameo loves attention. Her favorite thing? Getting her forehead rubbed. Which is, of course, the best angle from which to appreciate her beauty!

Volunteer trainer Laura McCorkle has been working with Cameo for a long time now, and has really gotten the chance to get to know this mare on a whole new level. She provided this update about her work with Cameo:

Poor Cameo — she’s the Queen of Walking Big Ovals! This beautiful girl has been in rehab for a very long time, trying to get her hamstring back in shape for riding. Half an hour of hand-walking/trotting day after day, week after week, month after month can get B‑O‑R-I‑N‑G!

Cameo being Cameo, she looks for drama around every corner (and frankly, who can blame her?). A falling leaf — a passing breeze — a raindrop — all these and more can be used as fuel for a classic Arab buck and snort, but a quick sarcastic raised eyebrow and a “rEEEEally?!” from her handler is all it takes, and she drops the drama. She really is a brave, sensible, spirited little beast…she just needs reminding every now and then.

Since the routine is so boring, we’ve been working on getting ready for being ridden again, hopefully soon. Cameo’s favorite cheat is leaning on you with her inside shoulder and looking to the outside, so we’ve been doing some groundwork as we walk — getting her to maintain the correct bend, and asking her to move off inside “leg” (pressure directed at her side with the tail end of the rope, a hand, or an arm draped over her). We’ve also worked on calm, light transitions between stop, walk, fast walk, jog, and trot — mixing it up a bit as we walk around. And around. AND AROUND.…

She seems to appreciate the “games” we play and likes to have some mental work along with the physical. Cameo is a horse who is THIRSTY for tasks to focus on — this horse wants a JOB. We’re doing our best to keep her happy, even though she’s not ready for too much yet. 

We’ll get there.…

Cameo: Health Update

It has been 3 months since Cameo’s torn hamstring injury. She has been doing well for her rehab and time off. She was allowed out of her stall rest and put into a stall with a run. We have steadily increased her hand walks to 30 minutes. She also has been quiet enough to take some walks out to the grass and enjoy some time outside. As long as she doesn’t get walked too far away from the other horses, she has remained relaxed and content.

We did have to break down and give her a bath! She has been loosing her summer coat and fluffing up for winter already. She was pretty good about it but really doesn’t like the drips on her hind legs. She managed through it and all survived! Also for the time being we took off her front shoes. We will be working with our farrier to see if she suggests putting them back on or trying her barefoot for the winter.

She is steadily recovering and has shown no signs of lameness on that hind leg. With good healing in place we will be talking to Dr. Fleck soon about getting her back under saddle and into the trot. We want to take it easy and make sure she is ready for that next step.

Update on Cameo

We are increasing Cameo’s hand walking to 15 minutes 2 times a day this week and so far so good. She is off all medication and is stable. She remains in good spirits and is relaxed for her hand walks and light massages. She loves her fan we set up outside her stall and she spends time with her mane flowing in the wind which is very cute to watch. It is truly amazing that this mare who had little to no trust of humans when she arrived at SAFE is now so trusting. Yesterday after her walk, I cleaned her stall and added some new shavings. While I was finishing she laid down on the fresh bed and let me sit beside her and pet her forehead. I would never believe this was the same mare who was so afraid of everything and everyone around her. What an amazing transformation and wonderful mare!

Last week we had Dr Finn come to work with Cameo. She brought her thermal image camera to help find the area that was causing Cameo’s discomfort in the left hind. The images showed no extremely hot areas which was a great relief. There were some warm lines along her left hamstring that coincided with some strong reactions we had had during the first days when we lightly touched this area. Dr Finn was able to do some chiropractic and acupressure releases to help relax and speed up Cameo’s recovery. We are very thankful for Dr Finn’s time and donation of the thermal imaging camera shots.


Stall Rest for Cameo

Cameo on stall rest

Cameo on stall rest

Two weeks ago, Cameo had a training mishap during a ground work session. She was being worked on a long lead rope, and she flipped her tail up and over the rope, clamped her tail down, and pulled the rope out of the hands of the person who was working her. In an effort to get away from the scary rope, she started spinning in circles, and kept spinning for about a minute. She finally unclamped her tail and the scary rope fell to the ground.

Cameo never stumbled and took a bad step during this, and she walked off fine, but a few minutes later, she was three legged lame, holding her left hind up and putting no weight on it whatsoever. There was no swelling or heat, but she was clearly in discomfort. Dr Fleck came out and examined her, but was unable to determine what was wrong. His suspicion was that something was going on in her hip or pelvis, maybe a muscle tear, maybe a fracture. He gave her pain medication and ordered stall rest through the weekend with a recheck on Monday morning. Cameo was an angel for her confinement, and her attitude remained bright, despite the fact that she was literally hopping on her right foot and keeping her left elevated. She remained unchanged through the weekend, and we all were extremely worried about her.

So it was a huge relief when, by the end of the weekend, she finally started putting weight on her bad leg. Dr Fleck was pleased with her progress but instructed us to keep her on stall rest, and continue to monitor her condition. She was rechecked again after a week, and Dr Fleck had us start hand walking her, starting with 5 minutes per day and increasing to 10 and then 15 minutes per day. At 15 minutes, she started showing signs of lameness, so Dr Fleck instructed us to take her back down to 10 minutes of hand walking twice a day.

Special thanks to Tim Matts at Firstfruits Feed, who opened his store on the 4th of July to sell us white pine shavings for Cameo’s stall after she had an allergic reaction to cedar shavings. We are so incredibly grateful for his generosity and kindness at a time when we were very worried about our girl and wanted to keep her as comfortable as possible. 

Cameo: Sister Moonbeam just wants to dance

cameo_04_16_2015I had the chance to chat with trainer Laura McCorkle who’s done a lot of work with Cameo over the past months and has seen the slow but steady transformation that this lovely mare has gone through. Laura laughs when she talks about Cameo’s “ice princess” demeanor, because underneath that chilly exterior lies the softest, kindest mare in the world. 

Cameo has really benefitted from the specialized hoof care she’s received of late, and now that her hooves are in better balance, the muscle development in her shoulders has become more even. Laura says that Cameo is feeling her feet now, and she’s a lot more balanced. Last ride, they got four canter transitions “without emotion,” which is always a nice thing!

Like many young horses, Cameo is still learning to accept contact, and Laura says that while Cameo is physically capable of self carriage, she’s still not quite able to deal with it mentally, at least not for very long stretches. She needs a lot of breaks when asked for contact, or she gets nervous, like she doesn’t quite trust that she’ll get the release she needs. So it’s important when Laura asks Cameo for vertical flexion that she changes things up and asks her for lateral flexion to give her a break. This allows her to hold vertical flexion for longer stretches without getting tight in her jaw.

Laura says that Cameo responds beautifully to being asked to be supple herself within movement…so much so that Laura compares her to a little hippie dancer who needs a lot of freedom to express herself. In contrast, she really doesn’t like to be asked to stand at attention. Someday she may graduate to becoming a ballet dancer with perfect control…but for now, weave her a crown of flowers and let her flow!

Training Update: Cameo

Cameo has officially grown up!! She went on her first real trail ride and did very well! She had a few jumps here and there but overall it was manageable and she came home a bit more mature then when she left. Couldn’t be more pleased with how grown up she is acting and the level of consistency in her behavior. She is still the hot little Arab but it is with in reason and rideable. She has a few new volunteer riders and she is listening to the different rider and styles well. She will always be a sensitive mare and add to that her intelligent nature she is posed to make someone an amazing partner. Her shoes are still helping her balance and a big part to the changes we have seen in her over the last few months. 

A field trip for Misty, Lola, Cameo, and Nala

Misty, Lola, Cameo, and Nala had a little field trip today, leaving Safe Harbor with their riders and walking down to the nearby Hollywood Hills Saddle Club. There’s a schooling show coming up at HHSC on May 9th that we’re planning to bring horses to, so Terry wisely decided that a test run was in order. The four girls did well, especially Nala who was on her very first trail ride and handled it like a complete pro!

March training update: Cameo

Cameo_02_15_2015_02Cameo has improved so much over the past several months. She’s become very steady under saddle and seems so much more mature. She is lovely to handle and work with now that she has lost that flighty edge. She has really settled into the ground work and being ridden on a loose rein. She is walk, trotting and cantering with a more relaxed manner. I think this is a combination of all the wonderful groundwork attention and patience that Laura McCorkle has given her, as well as the balance she is feeling with Jake Cowden’s shoes. The shoes are still a work in progress but we are already seeing such positive results. Her extra muscling on the one shoulder is almost completely gone and we no longer have to pad the one side of the saddle to compensate. She feel a lot more balanced underneath you when you ride and she doesn’t feel as much like a motorcycle leaning side to side as you trot and canter.

Cameo and Laura also participated in both days of the Michael Sparling Clinic at Safe Harbor Stables. Here is what Laura had to say about the clinic and Cameo: “I really enjoyed this clinic – more than the last one (though they were both great). As I have found with other clinics, learning a specific clinician’s techniques helps me understand my own way of working, and adds stuff to my “toolkit”. That shift in perspective is really valuable.

For me, one of the most valuable things in Michael’s approach is the idea that we should always be offering the horse something – not just leadership (though that is critical); not just instruction/training, but something the horse gets to tell US about. I like that Michael emphasizes the importance of looking for what the individual horse WANTS from us in terms of connection – maybe it’s a face rub, maybe it’s a withers massage, maybe it’s just standing still next to us, or letting them move out in a certain way. I think sometimes ANY method of training can be too much concentrated on what we can DO with the horse, but if we take time to connect and OFFER them something, the horse is more motivated to work for us and happier about doing it. And it’s way more fun for us, too!

I also like how this specific style of work connects the hind end with the front end very fluidly. At the last clinic, in the riding portion we were asked to do the “Short Serpentine” (walking in a shape kind of like ribbon candy), and I was very frustrated with trying to do that with Cameo….it was extremely difficult for us both, and I felt that she was not balanced enough or ready for it – but in clinics I always try to do things as the clinician says, so we kept with it. I feel like I’m not really learning anything if I go in there and do things “my way” the whole time! Anyway…I appreciated the exercise and the ideas behind it, so in the months after that first clinic I worked the Short Serpentine with several different clients’ horses including my own and had some great successes with it…but still not with Cameo.

In this clinic, he had us do serpentines again, and I started out as I had in the first clinic, thinking that’s what he was asking for. Cameo was a bit better, but we were still struggling a lot (her balance is better than it was but she still has a long way to go, especially with a tall rider like me!). Then he told me to try a much more shallow version where we looked for just one good step over – a smaller starting point to reach for. That worked much better, and was kind of what I had been wanting to do anyway – it felt great to have the validation that my instincts had been correct and when we switched to that approach this time it worked SO much better!!!! I hope that by the next clinic, Cameo and I will be rocking the Short Serpentines and she’ll be balanced and bending like a snake 

I also liked what he said about looking for relaxation as a primary goal…getting the “correct response” in the body is nice, but it’s important to get it in a way that indicates the horse is relaxed and feeling good about it. It might not always start out that way, of course. Especially with horses with a rough history, you have some issues and braces to work through, but in the end it’s not enough for them to be “technically” correct in their bodies – you have to get right with their MINDS. But that’s what has always drawn me to this approach to horsemanship – a horse’s body is beautiful and capable of incredible things, but their minds and spirits are even more amazing. THAT’s what I truly love to work with and communicate with. Especially with Cameo.”

Training Update: Cameo

Cameo gets the right lead canter!! The new shoes are wonderful and the small changes that have been started are making a ton of difference in her ability to carry a rider. We have also noticed that the build up on her left shoulder from the right club foot has started to look more even with the right shoulder. This makes the saddle a lot easier to sit level on her back without having to shim up the right side. We are excited to see how she changes as farrier Jake Cowden continues to slowly change the shoeing angles.

Unusually warm weather in January? Bath day!

thanks to Jessica F for these photos!

New shoes for Cameo

We have been working with farrier Jake Cowden to help Cameo’s club foot by adding shoes. We’ve been making very slow and subtle changes to her hooves, but already we are seeing signs of improvement. She is striding better in the front with lots more toe flip instead of jamming her right front into the dirt. She continues to become more calm and relaxed. As Cameo becomes more balanced and feels more secure in her own foundation, her overall attitude has been changing, which is a welcome improvement! Helping her balance through corrective shoeing is giving her one more way to feel safe when we ask her to do work for us and to carry a rider.

Pretty Cameo

October Training Report



Phoenix had a hard month concentrating under saddle. He continues to look sound on the front but does come out of his stall pretty stiff both in the front and hind. He had quite a few naughty days this month mostly due to work, noise, and activity at the barn that made him anxious. He’s up to 10 min of trot per workout now and should be adding 5 more minutes per week after that. He has also been working on trailer loading and has carefully made his way all the way into the trailer a few times! 

Lola has had a very good month. She went out on a trail ride to the watershed with Skye. She was initially reluctant to lead the way and about an hour into the ride I felt she was ready. We moved into sharing the lead with Skye and then as she gained her confidence we took the lead. She was a great girl and led the rest of the way home! She trotted and cantered in the lead, was easy to bring back down and was not afraid by even a bicyclist who came around a bend. This girl has come a long way this year. She is ready for a great forever home who wants a fun mare to enjoy both arena and trail work! 

Cameo was a great girl all month. We are trying her on a magnesium supplement to help with muscle discomfort and calmness. After about 2 weeks on the product, I could see a change in her attitude. It may not be something she needs forever but it seems to be helping take some of the edge off and helping her focus. She still takes a few minutes to smooth out when I initially get on but once she does, she has a very nice trot and a lovely canter. She still has a hard time picking up the correct lead on the right. Without a rider, she has no problem picking it up, but under a rider, she gets off balance and falls over the right shoulder. We are working on keeping her balance and this should get easier. Our goal with Cameo for October is to get her more relaxed about trailer loading so that we can take her out somewhere like Bridle Trails for an easy trail ride.

Skye has been really working hard to change her work ethic and she is making steady progress. When she came home from training, she still had quite an objection about going forward under saddle, but it’s hard to say if that was due to lack of fitness or some sort of mental block. But with improved athletic conditioning, her willingness to go forward has improved considerably. Plus she’s lost some weight as well as more time miles under saddle.

It is important that this big girl has a relationship where she understands clearly what is being asked of her and learns to answer requests with respect. Over time, she’s come to realize that she’s pretty big, and she holds herself in pretty high regard. I like the confidence in her personality but she needs to also listen to her rider. In the herd, during turnout, she is quietly bossy and typically pushes through whatever’s in her way to get to where she wants to go. But she is learning that with humans she can’t get big and pushy. Her ground manners are greatly improved and her willingness to load and unload calmly from the trailer is much better. She still needs some practice getting out of the trailer slowly but it’s getting better every time. Skye went on three trail rides last week, and was a very good girl. I think she has found her calling, out in the woods as a trail horse. She looked very happy to be out of the arena and outside in the open air. 



Skittles continues to be a gem in every possible way. We have had her on a glucosamine supplement for 30days. She is looking and moving well but continues to experience weakness on the right hind. While it doesn’t seem to give her a tremendous amount of pain but it is evident that she has trouble bringing it completely through and motion in the stifle maybe limited. Her canter leads are improving and she is able to pick up that difficult right lead correctly but still makes some mistakes. 

Emmy is as sweet as ever! She is easy to groom and handle and likes other horses but doesn’t squeal or get overly excited. I have been sitting on her, getting her used to leg pressure and light guiding reins. We have trotted on the lunge line and she is getting more responsive to my seat and leg. She still does not like pressure on the reins but she is accepting it more each ride. After her recent visit with the chiropractor, her ability to turn to the left was greatly improved and she seems to be less uncomfortable when turn her head to the left. She does have a slight head wag in the trot when she is at liberty as well as on the line. Nothing too troublesome, just something to note that may go away as she gets more balance and strength. Her canter to the left needs a lot more balance, she goes into “motorcycle mare”…dropping her inside shoulder and losing her hind end out behind her. These are all things that will improve with more balance work. 

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.

The joy of Cameo

cameo_07_29_2014What a joy this little mare is becoming! I had some really lovely quiet rides on Cameo this month. She can still be quite the four year old handful but she has a new peace about her and ground work is helping her find that more and more. Once she gets rid of the excess exuberance and focuses, she is a delight to work with. Her whole body changes from flighty Arabian to an easy Quarter Horse relaxation. I think she is becoming more comfortable on her own feet and with that balance she can quiet her energy. She is extremely smart and has a genuine sweet side when she looks at you with her soft eyes.

We had a really good ride last week but the next day she came out of her stall very stiff. Skye and Cameo can get running and playing hard outside too but I am not sure what caused this soreness; she is still young so maybe she is growing. The next day she looked a lot better and has looked better this week and back to riding. When she first came back to SAFE after being started, she felt very wobbly and unbalanced. The work encourages balance and trot poles are helping her find a better way of moving. She doesn’t feel as unstable underneath me, which I am sure is a good feeling for both of us. She is still pretty rushed and wants to be unbalanced for her canter work. When she is stronger, the canter work will be easier but until she feels more stable, she sometimes becomes very flighty and runs to escape.

Another thing that is going to help is a new saddle that was donated to SAFE by Dawn Anderson. It is a smaller tree so it is great for this girl’s little frame. We are so thankful for Dawn’s support and her time helping to fit our riding horses with the proper saddles.

Cameo is looking for a confident rider who can appreciate her green behavior and help channel them in the right direction. She is still very young so I try to keep things fun and not put too many demands on her developing body. We ride a few times a week, other days we play with obstacles and desensitizing tools. And I’m always looking for ways to help her gain more trust in people.

June Training Notes

Perhaps this is obvious, but we are just so proud of our horses! Every single one of them faced tremendous challenges in their lives before being rescued, and the courage and bravery they show us during their rehabilitation and retraining is nothing short of astonishing. The horses of SAFE have an incredible team of humans helping them on this journey, led by our trainer Terry Phelps and the volunteers who work by her side. This month’s training report is filled with brightness and hope, and we are so proud to share this with you and to say thank you to supporters like you for making our training program possible. 


Continuing with his rehab work. He’s being very steady and calm during his rehab rides! We’ve tried him out briefly at the trot — just trotting down the long sides of the arena a few times each direction — and he trotted sound in both directions. Fingers crossed that this is a sign that his rehab has been successful!

We tend to put Skittles on a pedestal...

We tend to put Skittles on a pedestal…

Continues to do great with ground work and riding. She has gone on two trail rides and was eager and happy to be out of the arena but listened well to me even when she was excited to be outside. She is brave walking past dogs and construction work and with cars passing along the road. She does like to walk fast and is less of a “quiet school horse type” on the trails but nothing dangerous or misbehaved.

Jewel did seem to remember her ground work training when she came back to SHS for the week, but she seemed to have regressed a tiny bit in her patience and softness when it came to picking up her feet.

Our Lola Bear continues to behave like a very good solid citizen! She was the best behaved for dentals when the vets were out, a master at walking over the tarps, and she loves to jump right into the trailer when asked! She was very relaxed and easy going for her trail ride, good with the cars along the road, didn’t mind the barking dogs or the construction noises. Her only fault on the trail was that she did not want to lead that particular day (normally she’s happy to be out front, and just as happy to bring up the rear!) She has been ridden frequently by Stephanie and has been very well behaved for her at all gaits.

Trailer loading training has continued with great success. The secret to success is not to apply a ton of pressure but with quiet asking and reassurance, she will step all the way into the trailer. We are working now on quietly stepping out of the trailer and not running backwards. She still needs a lot of positive and calming energy to trust this process.

Kat is a super star! She did very well during a recent showing to a potential adopter and was very tolerant of a the 10 year old rider1 She has been doing very well with her volunteer riders and happy out in grass turnout with Dottie.

We’re doing a great deal of ground work and desensitization training, and she is really doing quite well. She’s learning and quieting down a lot. She does have her hot side, but with calm handling she can relax and get very easy in her mind and movement. She’s does best if ridden after a very good ground work session. She can be very centered and quiet. Since Cameo is so young, I feel it’s important to keep the work light and fun for her. I’d like to take her out on the trails this summer as well and give her a chance to experience fun outside of the arena.

Skye and Terry at work in the arena

Skye and Terry at work in the arena

Skye has very good ground work manners from her work with Dave. I can see how well this was done and it is a great starting point with our growing relationship. She has a finite amount of time she can work before she gets tired and her stubborn “I’m finished” attitude comes out. We are working on her willingness to go forward when asked. She has a bit of  attitude but the fight is more of a slam on the breaks. This is getting better as we work together and she realizes I’m not asking for anything that hard. She really wants to please and has a very sweet nature. We have started the trailer work and will continue to have this as part of her weekly work.

Before leaving for foster it was evident that she was feeling a lot better, judging by the changes in her behavior. We had some testing of boundaries including a little nibbling, and some issues with standing for the farrier and getting into the trailer. She’s another horse who will benefit from ground work in preparation to getting started under saddle later this year.

Here are a few of the highlights from Kellie’s latest updates on Misty.

Happy to report that Misty got a new set of shoes today and we only had one “pull back and slam her front foot down” episode. Lisa and I have been working with her, holding her front leg up and out, and having her submit and let us do it, and then she gets a reward. That worked pretty well today. Misty got a piece of carrot each time Jim worked on her feet and set them down. She scored about 3 carrots and we got an obedient pony.

She is a smart girl and she seems to have made up her mind to work with us with less testing of the humans going on….

Overall, Misty is very fun to work with. She has a good work ethic and if she could do as well to the left as she does to the right for us, she would. I just think it is soreness and some weakness that keeps her from cooperating/balancing to the left. I’ve learned over the years that most horses will give you a lot of work/cooperation; almost every time that I had begun to think it was “attitude” versus pain, we discovered the cause, addressed it, and then no more bad behavior. When you hit resistance it is usually pain or protective behavior. Even in very dominant horses, they might “test” you, but, they almost always have a very good work ethic.

Ginger is doing fabulously with Kim Lacy! She has really come along nicely. I went to ride her and we got a video of her going w/t/c. She is ready for adoption or to return to SHS to be ridden and shown. Kim has taken her on trail rides on her property and is working on loading in the trailer, she was good for both.

Tarp training for Cameo

Cameo is pretty brave, but she’s not fond of loud or sudden noises. So Terry and Laura are working with desensitizing her. Here is Cameo’s first attempts at moving over a noisy tarp. Laura is very good at helping Cameo know she can take her time and think about it.

Two days later, another attempt at tarp training. After slowly making the tarp larger and larger, you can see in this video the progress she is making. She did get afraid of it but after still followed Laura over top. It’s a gradual process.

The girls are back!

Cameo and Skye graduated from training at the end of April and returned to Safe Harbor Stables to continue their education under Terry’s guidance. The two are settling in nicely, and are both healthy, happy, and feeling good. Terry’s been giving them both some refresher training in ground work to remind them about good manners…and they’re both doing really well. Skye, especially, seems to remember a lot of what she learned from her time in foster care with David Z. Both girls are already into their under saddle work with Terry, and preliminary reports are good! We’ll have videos to share very soon.

Cameo and Skye spent the morning out on the grass together, then came into the covered arena for some playtime and exercise after the rain started. Here are some photos from today of the two happy, wet mares having fun before their afternoon training sessions started:

Cameo Update from Training

cameo_02_23_2014Cameo is continuing to progress in her work with Andrea Lucianna at Half Trak Farm. It’s been a difficult journey for this mare, and she has her good days and not-as-good days, but she is moving forward all the time. It’s important to keep in mind just how far she’s come when looking at her progress. By those standards, she’s absolutely remarkable.

She continues to go well under saddle and Andrea & Jenny are both pretty pleased with how her body is developing with steady, correct work. They’re promising a new video and photos as soon as the weather improves. In the meantime, Andrea has started asking her to slow down and work in a more collected way of going, to try and focus her mind a bit. She leg yields nicely and is starting to sit her trot. Andrea says that physically she’s pretty straight and correct. She is still developing her balance under saddle and will occasionally trip or stumble. 

Cameo can still be very spooky and Andrea spends a significant amount of every ride dealing with that. Andrea feels this is just who she is and that she’s always going to be spooky. Cameo’s adopter will have to accept that about her, and be prepared to work through it. As we’ve said before, Cameo is a long-term project, and her perfect adopter is going to be someone who understands and accepts that.

Andrea has been testing having others tack her up. Andrea and Jenny have no problem getting a bridle on her. But, some people find the task impossible. She’s good on the ground, and is usually pretty sweet, but she does go through phases where she doesn’t want to allow herself to be caught. Then she turns back into the mare who comes at a gallop when she is called. Again, it’s part of who she is.

Because of the bond that Andrea developed with her before starting her under saddle, Cameo is extremely loyal to Andrea and shows her a ton of try. Cameo has made progress in her interactions with other people, but Andrea remains the one person who does best with her. So again, we have to reiterate that a potential adopter for Cameo must understand that they will have to go through the same process of establishing a bond with her from the start. Once that bond is established, Cameo will belong to her person, and her person alone. Cameo needs someone with the heart and patience to give her that. In return, her adopter will have the sort of horse that will walk through fire for her person. 

Cameo will remain in training with Andrea at least through the end of this month. It would be so beneficial to have an adopter who can go to Half Trak Farm multiple times to work with Andrea and Cameo before making a commitment to this mare. We want Cameo to find her person, so please help us by sharing her story with anyone you know who might turn out to be that person. 

Below: Cameo under saddle with Andrea in the outdoor arena at Half Track Farm

A wonderful Cameo training update

It’s been a while since we’ve provided an update on Cameo’s progress in training, but it’s not because things haven’t been going well…quite the opposite in fact. Things with Cameo have been going SO well that we can hardly believe it.

When we dropped Cameo off at Half Trak Farm to begin her work with Andrea, we saw a major regression in her behavior. She had made a lot of progress working with Brittney at SAFE since her rescue, but she initially regarded her new friends at Half Trak with suspicion, aggression, and reluctance to cooperate. Andrea decided the best way to overcome this behavior was to make herself Cameo’s whole world for a period of time, so for about a week, she was the only human that Cameo interacted with. Happily, Cameo accepted Andrea’s friendship surprisingly quickly, and before long, she accepted the fact that although she was in a new place, it was a safe place, a good place. Once Andrea gained her trust, she was able to proceed with ground work and under saddle lessons.

Things between Andrea and Cameo could not be better. Andrea can call her in from the field, and Cameo comes running at a dead gallop and shoves her head in the halter. Cameo has also learned to bond with other horses…she’s especially close with Half Trak’s weanling filly, and apparently the two are super adorable together.

Andrea absolutely loves Cameo and thinks she is going to turn out to be a nice, nice horse for someone. But she stresses that the person who adopts her has got to be willing to take the time to bond with her. Andrea feels quite strongly that the initial aggressive attitude that Cameo displays is really the complete opposite — she’s actually very timid and needs time to build confidence in her handler. When you think about what Cameo’s life was like before she was rescued — stuck in a stall all the time with no handling — it makes sense that trust would be a huge issue for her. In many ways, it’s absolutely inspirational that she’s able to trust anyone at all. There is no doubt that Cameo is a brave and courageous filly to be able to overcome such a start in life.



Cameo’s lessons under saddle are progressing very well, and she’s going nicely at all three gaits. We’ve had the opportunity to see her going under saddle, and as you can imagine, it’s very emotional for many of us who feared she’d never make it this far. However, we’re still not quite ready to share her progress with a video yet…Cameo still lacks confidence under saddle, she’s very sensitive, and she can be spooky in the arena. We’d prefer to give Andrea the time she needs to work through Cameo’s issues before we’ll be ready to share her on video. We are absolutely thrilled with the progress she has made, and we have complete confidence in Andrea’s plans for proceeding with her education. At this point, Cameo will probably need to remain in training for another 30–60 days before she is at the level that Andrea normally sends them home at. We made a decision when Cameo started training that we were committed to seeing her through it, even if it takes longer than what we consider normal.

The best possible outcome we could hope for here at SAFE would be for Cameo to find her adoptive home now, while she is still in training with Andrea, so that her new person could work with Cameo under Andrea’s guidance. Cameo is a lovely mare, a beautiful rose bay with a tiny star who will no doubt turn heads in the show arena. The person that she ultimately bonds with will have a true friend for life. Cameo is likely to be a one-person mare, and the friendship and bond that she will share with “her” person will be remarkable. She’s got so much to offer to the person willing to make a leap of faith with her. Surely that person is out there for Cameo.

Training Update on Cameo

Cameo has been in training with Andrea Lucianna for 30 days, and things have not been entirely rosy for our little bay mare. She arrived at Half-Trak Farm with a bit of an eye infection that had to be treated with daily eye drops…a routine that she did not care for in the least. This resulted in a lot of distrust and suspicion, and her behavior reverted back to the wild thing that she was when first rescued. She became difficult to catch, even in a stall. Because this behavior seemed so motivated by mistrust, Andrea decided that she would be the only person to handle Cameo, essentially making herself into Cameo’s “whole world” and helping her realize that she could be trusted. Fortunately, Cameo responded very well to this, and before long was greeting Andrea with ears forward and nickers, even when turned out in a pasture. The two have formed a bond, and this bond has allowed Andrea to move forward with her training.

She now is being worked in full tack and has already had a rider stand in stirrup and lean over her back (see below for video) Andrea is much more hopeful than she was a week ago. She feels Cameo is very smart and learning quickly. She lunges well and has learned voice commands. She is not going to be ready to go after 60 days of training like many of the SAFE horses are, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we are beginning to get a sense for what Cameo needs if she is going to be successful.

It’s all about trust for Cameo. She needs one person that she can bond with and trust, and that person needs to handle her with consistency and fairness. The ideal situation would be if we could find that person right now, and have that person work with Andrea and take part in Cameo’s training. Our plan is to network with Arab trainers in the area and try to find someone who has the confidence and experience to bring Cameo along properly. There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to a horse like this, but the potential rewards are great: she is young, healthy, sound, and athletic. She is beautiful and she can be extremely sweet. But most of all, there is an opportunity here to create and grow a bond of trust with a horse whose previous owner failed her completely. A horse who deserves a chance at a much better life. 

Cameo’s person is out there and if you can help us find that person, we would appreciate your help with networking and helping in the search. The link to Cameo’s page is — please share her story. 

Cameo is now wearing a saddle!

cameo_07_15_13Cameo wants everyone to know she has been wearing a saddle for a few weeks now, but today was the first time it was put on while she was standing in the cross-ties.

You’ll notice that Cameo is wearing a chain in the photo. That’s because she is still learning how to lead like a polite little lady. When she leads nicely, no pressure from the chain is applied to her nose because Brittney leads her with a very loose lead line. But if she tries to bolt away while being led, she ends up applying pressure to her own nose. Even though she is small, she can be quite strong and has the strength to get away from her handler if she has a moment of being overly exuberant. It wouldn’t be safe for her if she got away and ran into traffic or into another dangerous situation.

Cameo’s Accomplishments

cameo_05_03_13_01In the spirit of celebrating the little things in life, we have a couple of big accomplishments to share with you. Last week, Miss Cameo braved the scary (and admittedly tricky!) little ramp that horses have to walk up and down when leaving and entering the main barn at SAFE Harbor. Brittney worked patiently with her until she was able to do it calmly and safely. This was a very big deal for Cameo and we were very proud of her!

This week, Cameo got to try out the crossties in the main barn, and as you’ll see from the photos below, she was quite successful. Hooray for Cameo and hooray for Brittney for all the time and patience she has put into teaching Cameo the skills that we sometimes take for granted. They are working towards getting started under saddle, and Brittney is taking things at Cameo’s speed, helping her gain confidence and learn the skills that will serve her for the rest of her life.

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Skye and Cameo — First time on pasture

Skye and Cameo came from an unusual neglect situation in which 39 horses were confined in stalls and not allowed outdoors. Here is a video of Skye and Cameo going out on pasture for the first time at SAFE Harbor. It’s entirely possible that this is something neither have ever experienced. They certainly were very happy to try it out!

Skye and Cameo — Blankets!!

cameo_skye_04_26_2013_blanketsCongratulations to SAFE trainer Brittney Stewart for successfully blanketing Cameo and Skye for the the first time today! Yes, warmer weather is right around the corner, but we take these little triumphs when they come. Good girls!!

Cameo update

SAFE farrier Daphne Jones Trims Cameo's Overgrown Hooves.

SAFE farrier Daphne Jones trims Cameo’s overgrown hooves.

Cameo got her feet trimmed earlier this week. Brittney reports that while Cameo seems to be getting over her fearfulness, and is no longer shaking in fear as she leaves her stall, she is now exhibiting some truly bratty behavior when it comes to allowing herself to be caught. Brittney and our fabulous farrier Daphne Jones spent more than 2 hours playing good cop/bad cop with her. She pulled some mean faces and even kicked out at them a few times, but she eventually she figured out that they weren’t going to just go away and relented, allowing Brittney to throw a lead rope over her neck like normal.

Once caught, she acted like she had her hooves trimmed before. She had a few more moments of sassy mare attitude but gave it up quickly.

Brittney has been catching Cameo on a daily basis and lunging her.

Thank you to Chelsey Braswell for these photos of Cameo in her paddock at SAFE Harbor. Chelsey says that as cute as they are, they absolutely do not do her justice — she is even cuter in person! We love her coloring — Jet describes it as “rose bay” which is very apt.

Cameo arrives at SAFE Harbor

Last Thursday, Animal Control officers transported Logan, Skye and Chip from Frontier Park to SAFE Harbor Stables, but the fourth horse that SAFE agreed to take from the seizure did not make the trip. That’s because the officers were unable to even catch Cameo in her stall.

SAFE trainer Brittney Stewart set aside the entire day yesterday to drive down to Graham to work with Cameo and attempt to convince her to allow herself to be caught. With no time table in mind and her husband Darby along for support, Brittney knew that she could allow Cameo all the time she needed to accept and trust her.

In the end, it took an hour and a half of gentle, patient coaxing in the stall for Cameo to be caught. It took another 10 minutes to convince Cameo that it was safe to step outside the stall, and remarkably only 15 seconds of hesitation before she jumped right into the open trailer.

Cameo hauled in the trailer like a pro, she didn’t kick when they stopped and at the end of the 2 hour ride, she wasn’t even nervous or sweaty! When they got to SAFE, they backed the trailer up into the arena and blocked the sides of the gate so Cameo wouldn’t attempt to run out of the arena. Brittney opened the trailer door to find a happy and  comfortable Cameo in her trailer munching on hay. So happy and comfortable that it took some convincing to get her to come out of the trailer into the arena!

Cameo is now safely ensconced in her stall at SAFE Harbor, and now begins the long process of convincing this unhandled and frightened filly that people are good and kind. Cameo is a living reminder that animal abuse comes in many forms besides just starvation. Horses need fair, consistent handling on a regular basis if they are ever going to be able to live safely among humans. Letting a domesticated horse grow up unhandled and untrained is wrong because in the end, when you’re left with a huge dangerous animal, it’s the horse that will suffer. Cameo is lucky that she is young, smart, and that she has a lot of people on her side who are going to help her learn and grow. Other horses are not so lucky. So once again, thank you to Pierce County Animal Control for taking action in this case. It was a bold move, but hopefully it will send a message that anyone having far more horses than they can reasonably care for is a crime that will not go unpunished. Horses like Cameo have suffered enough.

New horses at SAFE

SAFE has agreed to take four of the horses that were seized by Pierce County Animal Control in late September 2012 from a property in Graham, WA. Three of the horses were transported to SAFE and NWESC today; the fourth is currently still at Frontier Park where PCAC has been housing the horses from this seizure.

Conditions at the Graham property

According to the Pierce County prosecutor’s office, the horses were discovered when a DEA agent came onto the property to serve a search warrant. The agent contacted Pierce County Animal Control who found 39 horses, including ten stallions, living in deplorable conditions in three run down barns and outdoor paddocks. The horses were living in stalls with “excessive accumulations of feces and urine” and shelters containing piles of manure one to two feet high. Some of the horses were underweight, and many of them were suffering from severe and painful medical conditions brought on by their neglect. The majority of the horses appear to have had very little handling, and were difficult to even put halters on. They were also suffering from a lack of hoof care, dental care, and other necessary vet care.

The horses were taken to Frontier Park in Graham, where they were cared for and given medical treatment. The defendant petitioned for the return of his horses, and on November 9, a District Court judge allowed the return of 11 horses, based on evidence that he had sufficiently cleaned and repaired enough of the property to accommodate them. The remaining horses became the property of Pierce County on December 10. Eight horses were humanely euthanized by PCAC, five due to medical conditions and three due to dangerous behavior.

After careful consideration, multiple visits to Frontier Park, and consultation with the Animal Control officers and the veterinarian on the case, SAFE elected to take four of the remaining horses.

Chip, prior to AC seizure

Chip is an 18 year old Arab/Appy stallion. He is a strikingly beautiful horse with unusual coloring — he’s registered as a chestnut, but he’s greyed out in a very attractive fashion. Chip was delivered to NWESC this afternoon where he will be gelded. He’s a fairly personable horse who responds to pressure, picks up his feet when asked, etc. He’s also a pretty lovely mover! We have high hopes for this boy. Click here to see more photos of Chip.

Logan is a 17 year old Arab gelding, who has a large rectal polyp that has caused him a great deal of discomfort and pain for quite some time. Logan is scheduled to undergo surgery at Pilchuck Vet Hospital on Thursday to have this polyp removed. It is the hope of everyone involved that the growth can be successfully removed because Logan is a really sweet horse who deserves to be comfortable. He’s gentle and really appears to want to trust and connect with someone, but right now he’s still pretty fearful.

Skye is a 7 year old half Arab, half draft mare who is built like a tank. She’s already at SAFE Harbor, and she’s having a little trouble overcoming her fear and confusion at being in a new place and adjusting to having a stall with access to a paddock. Fortunately she is being cared for by kind and patient people who are letting her take the “baby steps” she needs. With lots and lots of consistent handling, we think she will come around.

Cameo is a 4 year old Arab mare. Like the others, she is shy and nervous, but she appears to want to trust. She’s had a corneal scratch which required daily eye ointment so her opinion of humans may be a little strained at the moment, but she’s another horse that we think will come around with time.

Pierce County is attempting to find adoptive homes for the remaining horses in their care. Unfortunately SAFE is now completely full and unable to take any more. Here is a link to the horses on the Pierce County website.


Cameo’s Friends:

1. Sundee R.

2. Shar C.

3. Taryn B.

4. Nancy B.

5. Victoria G.

6. _____________________

7. _____________________

8. _____________________

9. _____________________


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!

Click here to sponsor Cameo!