COLOR: grey MARKINGS:     
YOB: 2011 AGE: 11 yrs old HEIGHT: 14.0 HH WEIGHT: 959 lbs
LOCATION: Redmond, WA ADOPTION FEE: TBD Online Adoption Application  
Darla and Montana were surrendered to SAFE by their owner, an elderly man who suffered a stroke and could no longer care for them. His family was able to successfully rehome his other horses, but Darla and Montana are both untrained and were at a greater risk of falling into bad situations. So SAFE agreed to take them on so they can benefit from our horsemanship program.
Darla is a bit more gentle than Montana is, and while it’s clear she’s still quite nervous about being touched, she can be caught. She even stood for a bit of light brushing upon arrival. We expect her to make an easier transition into a horse that enjoys the company of humans. We hope she will become a nice riding horse too.

All SAFE horses are adopted with a no-breeding clause, no exceptions.

Hooves of Glass

Hooves of Glass

Remember when Darla blew an abscess, way back in January? The shockwaves of that are still being felt all the way now in August. There was a sweet spot a few months back where she was sound, and we thought that we were in the clear. But it was not to be. Shortly after we got Darla back into regular work, she came up lame again. That same hoof again, the dreaded left front, was still proving to be an issue. So we soaked her, we wrapped her, and we rested her. The one positive about all this — we’re getting really good at duct tape boots!

But despite all of our efforts, Darla’s foot stubbornly insisted on carrying on giving her issues. It was time to break out the big guns (or dremels, as it turned out). We called upon the talented Dr. King of Pilchuck who has worked his hoof-healing magic on mini Chip and SAFE alumni Cy (formerly known as Cyrus), among others. When he trimmed back her hoof, a tunnel was revealed that ran the entire length between the tip of her hoof and the section, now about half-way down, where she had ported out her coronet band. He cut away this area, revealing lots of dirt and dead laminae, and then packed the area with betadine gauze to help dry it out.

In another week, he saw Darla again for a scheduled recheck. At this visit, he applied a cast to her hoof to shore up the area and promote healing. Aided by a little bit of dorm gel to keep her from movement during the process, Darla was a perfect angel during the procedure.

At her next recheck a few weeks later, Dr. King had us trot her out to evaluate where she was at, lameness wise. While there was certainly some improvement, even with the cast on, Darla still was slightly off. Dr. King attributed this to just the cards she was dealt – she doesn’t naturally have a big, solid foot, so even at her most sound she would always be a little bit lame. He suggested putting her in front shoes as soon as we were able.

At this appointment, he also cut away the cast, revealing that Darla was healing up quite nicely. He gave her a trim, and instructed us to wrap the hoof up during the day to keep it clean.

A mid-post ‘did you know:’ applying epsom salt poultice or another type of poultice within the context of a duct tape boot is great for drawing and softening, but too long in this environment and the hoof could go too soft. To prevent this, we have been using betadine-soaked gauze to keep the afflicted area clean, and bringing Darla into a stall at night where she can have an unwrapped hoof in a clean, dry environment.

Last week, we had one of our wonderful farriers, Lisa Fite, out to put shoes on our dear Darla. With this piece in place, we may finally have found the end of Darla’s hoof issues… but we’ll still knock on wood, just in case.

During this entire process, Darla has been living a mostly normal life. With the exception of coming into a stall at night, she has been allowed her normal turnout and grass time. Now with the addition of shoes, she is fully back to work.

Thanks to the hard work of so many, Darla is back on her feet, hopefully once and for all!

Darla Gets to Work

Darla Gets to Work

Kaya has the following to say about her time spent recently with Darla:

After struggling with her hoof injury for the last several months, Darla is sound and ready to get back to work! It seems she has used the time off to think about what she was working on before the injury. She’s less touchy about her hind end than when we first got her and quicker to relax and let down. 

Darla’s past has left her with braces in her body and nervous when energy is increased around her. It will take some time and care to help her free up her feet to feel unstuck and  comfortable when she feels pressure increase. We’ll be working her on building her strength and begin saddling her again in the weeks ahead. She had a few rides put on her last November and hope over the Spring we can begin riding her and offer her for adoption as a riding horse this summer.

Pretty much everyone agrees, Darla is a special lady. It is fascinating watching her break through her braces and let down. She has a ton of try and with time and patience, we have hope that she will make it as a riding horse.

Darla, ex-Unicorn

Darla, ex-Unicorn

Oh Darla! Our little accident prone darling. When making a round after their morning chore shift, two of our eagle-eyed volunteers spotted Darla’s pretty white head with an alarming stroke of red on it. Upon further inspection, it was revealed that miss Darla had opened up a little gash on her forehead – not tremendously large, around 3 inches, but deep enough that a call to our vet was warranted. 

So call the vet we did, and she was quick on the scene. Part of Darla’s wound was full thickness, which meant that the cut extended through the dermis and epidermis into the lower levels. This in turn meant that she would need several stitches. After some light sedation and a healthy bit of lidocaine injected around the area, Dr. Lewis got to work stitching Darla up. 

The placement of her wound, smack dab in the middle of her forehead, made it seem as though she was really just a unicorn, reminding us where the horn used to be. 

Darla’s Toe Woes

Darla’s Toe Woes

It has certainly been a lengthy recovery process, but the end is finally in sight for our dear Darla. Since her abscess finally ported (in not one, not two, but three places: her coronet band, her heel bulbs, and her white line) back in early January, we have been carefully tending to her foot each day to ensure it continues to heal. And it has paid off! During her most recent visit with our vet, Darla was evaluated as being sound at the walk and healing up quite well. The most important thing during this final stretch is to ensure that the port areas are kept clean, which we have been doing through a combination of duct tape boots, iodine solution, and, most recently, a diaper “sock” that Darla wears inside a trail boot. Gone are the days of deeply bedded stall rest – Darla now gets a daily turnout with her “shoes on,” where she moves around quite comfortably.

Darla has been a wonderful, patient patient during this entire process, even during the periods when she was at her highest levels of discomfort. She seemed to really enjoy her ‘pedicures’ – the epsom salt soaks we were administering multiple times a week – standing still as a statue for the entire duration, even lowering her head and adopting a relaxed, sleepy expression. 

Our vet gave Darla the all clear to go back to work after her next trim with our farrier, and we look forward to getting back to work on the road to adoption for this special girl!

Darla on the Mend

Darla on the Mend

Poor, sweet Darla has been suffering from a bad hoof abscess over the holidays at SAFE. Despite starting treatment (soaking and Epson salt poultices), her pain level became more severe. We called our veterinarian, Dr. Renner, for a visit. X‑rays showed a significant hematoma had formed in her front left hoof, putting a significant amount of pressure on her coffin bone. We don’t know what caused this injury or when it happened, but the hoof had experienced some traumatic event.  

Kaya checks on Darla’s foot

Darla was started on SMZ (antibiotics) and Bute for pain. We continued soaking and wrapping in an Epson salt poultice. After a few days the pain increased and we added Tramadol for more pain management.  She was kept in a deeply bedded stall with a camera monitoring her for 24-hour surveillance. While she has been a fairly willing patient, she did not like being given oral medications so we will have to work on that.  

Abscess opens finally!

Finally, during the first week of January the abscess opened and started to drain. There is at least one port at the front of her coronet band and possibly another on her medial heel bulb. She is MUCH more comfortable now and is able to put some weight on the hoof. We will continue soaking the hoof with Epson salts with a splash of iodine as an antiseptic for the open area. We are also using Animalintex poultices (these were donated and we’re very grateful for them because they are pricey) to cover the port area to help encourage more drainage. We will keep the hoof wrapped, clean and dry as the area finishes flushing out and heals. We are so grateful that she is on the road to recovery and we will have our sweet Darla healthy and happy very soon! 

Good Girl Darla

Good Girl Darla

Darla is a pleasure to get to know and very rewarding to work with so far. She has a huge heart and a ton of try. She was very shy and afraid coming into SAFE. Now after just a few weeks, she is more comfortable with haltering and has been walking nicely into the arena for her groundwork sessions. As her feet are getting freed up and her weight distributed onto her hinds, her expression softens and she is not in a panic. The volunteers have also noticed the changes in her while cleaning her paddock. She is no longer standing “on point” with her head high and eye intense on everyone or any noises around her. She is truly “letting down” and finding peace and relaxation in her life here at SAFE. 

This week, after a fair amount of preparation, we were able to have Joel Conner’s help saddling her. She accepted the saddle very well and was not panicked when wearing it around the round pen. We hope to continue to prepare her for a rider and put the first rides her at SAFE on during Joel’s visit next month. 

Darla has been wormed and seen our farrier, however she was only comfortable having her fronts trimmed at that time. She will be vaccinated in the coming weeks and scheduled for a dental before we put a snaffle in her mouth. 

Getting to Know Darla

Getting to Know Darla

Darla is shy, so it takes a few minutes for her to get used to being approached. She can be led, but has a pull back (resistance) issue when on the lead. We’re doing basic groundwork training with her to help her feel free to move her feet. Darla was first introduced to having an oral syringe inserted into her mouth and eventually accepted her worming medication through the syringe. At this point, we expect it will take 6 months to a year of training to help Darla work through her troubles and issues. Her prior handling was most likely well-intentioned, but appears to have resulted in some braces. (Braces are a lack of unimpeded movement in any available direction that one sees in a tension-free and willing response from the horse.)

Meet Montana and Darla

Meet Montana and Darla

Say hello to our two newest arrivals, Darla and Montana! Darla is about 10 years old, and Montana is a 5 year old gelding. Both were surrendered to SAFE by their owner, an elderly man who suffered a stroke and could no longer care for them. His family was able to successfully rehome his other horses, but Darla and Montana are both untrained and were at a greater risk of falling into bad situations. So SAFE agreed to take them on so they can benefit from our horsemanship program.

Montana is a striking dark bay and white pinto, who was originally purchased as a yearling to be a riding horse, but they were unsuccessful at halter starting him. Now at 5, he is still quite unhandled, and very tentative about being approached. He will need a lot of patient work to be gentled and started under saddle, but fortunately he is quite good looking so we’ll be able to enjoy his beauty as we work with him.

Darla is a bit more gentle, and while it’s clear she’s still quite nervous about being touched, she can be caught. She even stood for a bit of light brushing upon arrival. We expect her to make an easier transition into a horse that enjoys the company of humans. We hope she will become a nice riding horse too.

Thank you to Jackie for driving the trailer, and Candi and Kaya for assisting with pickup!











Darla’s Friends:

1. Sean C.

2. Leslie S.

3. Susan C.

4. Marilyn P.

5. Alaina S.

6. Tara S.

7. Jaelyn A.

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 Darla!