April 28, 1998
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Dottie is a tall and beautiful Thoroughbred mare, who came to us via a pair of good Samaritans who helped remove her from an abusive owner. Her guardian angels arranged transportation to SAFE. She is an ex-racehorse and former broodmare who was approved by the Westphalian registry. She’s had a difficult life and shows clear signs of having been mistreated in the past. Dottie is a pretty high-strung thoroughbred mare who can be a little bit choosy about who she shares a pasture with, but once she finds a friend, she’s a loyal companion. Dottie loves to be groomed and pampered…brushing her tail will put her in a trance. She’s a lovely mare who deserves a good home where she can be adored and doted upon.
Our wonderful volunteer Diana sent us an email about Dottie. Anyone who has met Dottie will tell you that Diana has described her to a tee. We are very lucky to have a lovely friend to visit with Dottie in her foster home and these great photos by Jessica to share with you. Here is what Diana wrote about Dottie:
Here’s an update from a new volunteer to SAFE that has us beaming. Diana lives in Bellingham, so volunteering at Safe Harbor is difficult, but she’s making a difference by spending quality time with Dottie. She wrote this morning to tell us how her friendship with this lovely mare is blooming, and we couldn’t be happier for either of them! This is why we are so fond of our companion horses and why we fully believe that horses have so much more to give than just being ridden.
Things are going wonderfully with Dottie. She is an incredibly special horse, and I honestly adore her. I have known and loved many, many horses in my life, and I have owned two very special horses, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that I have never felt such an immediate connection with a horse as I have now with Dottie. I don’t know if its because we have similar obstacles in our lives (specific kinds of anxiety and emotional sensitivities and even the health and gastrointestinal problems!) or if its just her personality or what, but she has become an instant dear friend to me.
She lives a little further away from me than I had initially thought (it takes an hour for me to drive from my home in Bellingham to hers in Arlington) so I sadly can’t see her as often as I would like, which would be every day if I had my way! But I still have found myself making the trek to see her at least twice a week because I simply can’t seem to go more than a couple days at a time without her! Karen at Pacific Moon has been incredibly wonderful. She has told me that I can just come by whenever, and she has allowed me to really make myself at home at her barn. I am so grateful!
I brought my husband to meet Dottie and that was an interesting event because she was certainly nervous about him at first, but she warmed up to him very quickly and became affectionate with him as well. I definitely see evidence of her former abuse when there are other people around, but she is so quick to turn that around and love on everyone. She is a sensitive horse but so incredibly kind and willing to love. I feel such a kinship with her!
I am head over heels for Dottie and badly wish I was in a position to adopt. The problem of course is that we have no place to keep her and can’t quite afford a boarding fee. All I can say is that I hope this situation will change.
But I wanted to thank you both for giving me this amazing opportunity to get to know her and work with her. We have fun! We’re currently working on going on walks outside of her pasture. She’s definitely not used to leaving the confines of her space and it makes her a little excited to say the least! But mostly we just hang out and have quiet, sweet time together. 🙂
I attached a few photos so you can see what you already know–what a beautiful and sweet heart she has!
Dottie has a new friend at her foster home at Pacific Moon Equestrian Center —an 8 month old KWPN gelding named Frido! This young son of Freestyle seems to really enjoy life in the big field, as long as Dottie is by his side. Dottie has taken the little guy under her wing, and is now affectionally known as Grandma by everyone at Pacific Moon.
Dottie received another surprise when, as an early holiday gift, her foster mom Karen bought her a pretty new blanket to keep her dry and warm during the cold winter months. She is one lucky girl! Thank you Karen and Pacific Moon for taking such great care of Miss Dottie.
Do you have room in your life for a gentle companion horse like Dottie? Dottie is easy to get along with all types of horses, she stands for the vet and farrier, is sweet to groom and would make a great addition to your family. If you are interested in learning more, fill out our adoption application or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dottie deserves a forever home. Help us find her the perfect family to call her own!
This lovely young mare to the left is one of Dottie’s offspring, Dana. Doesn’t she look a lot like Dottie? Dana lives in Juneau, Alaska and a few months back, her owner was researching her lineage online and stumbled upon Doty Belle’s “Where Are They Now?” video on the Emerald Downs website, which led her to SAFE.
Dana is about three years old and is in training to hopefully do three day eventing. Although her owner Lisa trained horses for many years in her 20s, Dana is her first horse. Lisa has taken incredible care of Dottie’s daughter, and approached her training with thoughtfulness and intelligence. Like Dottie, Dana is affectionate, curious, and enjoys grooming. We are so glad to see her thriving and to have established this family connection!
Volunteer Jessica Farren recently visited Miss Dottie Belle at the Pacific Moon Equestrian Center. She took absolutely gorgeous photos! The fall colors are a stunning backdrop for this beautiful mare.
Dottie has thrived under Karen Moore’s care. We are so blessed to have Karen’s support and care of our sweet Dottie. While she has been at Pacific Moon, Dottie has been living in a big pasture with a buddy. She is calm, relaxed and comfortable with enough space to move freely, while having a friend at her side.
She would make a lovely companion for a family who has it in their heart to love this gentle soul. I promise you the love Dottie returns to her person will be tenfold. Please help us find her a family to call her own. It is time to find her an adopter so SAFE can help another horse in need. Email: email@example.com for more information on Dottie and adopting!
Dottie Belle has been living in foster care at Pacific Moon in Arlington for about six months now. Under Karen Moore and her team, Dottie has settled into a happy life outdoors among horse friends. Since her arrival, Heather Evans-Keliher and Eve Tai have visited with Dottie regularly. Now that Dottie feels at home, it was a good time to consider liberty work for her. This type of work takes place on the ground free of equipment, force or restraints, leaving the horse “at liberty” to choose how she wants to participate.
Eve drafted the help of Elsa Sinclair, a natural horsemanship trainer. Elsa’s goal in liberty work is to forge a quiet, grounded connection between human and horse. Her approach is a great match for Dottie, who is highly sensitive to any change in her environment. Not surprisingly, when Eve first brought Dottie into the arena, a new place for her, her anxiety heightened. She called for her pasture mate and paced along the mirrored wall, both gazing at and getting frustrated with that “other horse.” (Beautiful as she was!) Moving slowly and quietly, Elsa and Eve set some physical boundaries for Dottie to help channel her nervous energy, while still allowing her the freedom to express herself. With time and consistency, Dottie eased into her body.
Dottie tends to push past humans or look for an exit when she is feeling anxious. Our objective was to teach Dottie that by attending to her people she could find leadership, connection and comfort. Elsa and Eve alternated walking with Dottie for over an hour, applying light pressure for her to walk or avoid off-limits areas. Each time she did something positive or brave, such as explore a new spot in the arena, pass through a scary spot without drama, or connect with Elsa or Eve through a glance or a nose touch, the pressure would be released right away. Then we’d breathe together for several moments — in stillness — and just enjoy Dottie’s company. For horses this quiet connection is a great reward.
Dottie enjoyed walking with Eve and Elsa for long periods, frequently licking and chewing as she released the tension of new learning. We’re glad to say that Elsa and Eve enjoyed many moments when Dottie would choose to brush her nose against their hands. And she even felt comfortable enough to indulge in several rolls.
In the past, Dottie would sometimes freeze up in response to any challenge or request, including hand walking. This was consistent with her coping strategy of internalizing stress (a likely contributor to her colic episodes). Liberty work of this style allows her to learn something new within safe boundaries, yet also gives her the choice to step away or voice an opinion. Over time we hope we can help Dottie restore her skill set and flexibility to adjust to changing conditions. We have already seen Dottie step forward with courage and curiosity more than ever before.
No doubt her nurturing time at Pacific Moon has helped Dottie cultivate her confidence. Though some may call her high-strung, it may be more accurate to say that she is highly attuned and observant. A horse of this character can be a true gift because she genuinely loves those who seek and cherish her sensitivity. An adopter with the interest and time to learn more about how Dottie takes in the world will be greatly rewarded. Though she can’t be physically ridden, Dottie is happy to take her friends to a place beyond human perception — a field of infinite joy and connection.
Thanks to Karen Moore and her team at Pacific Moon for taking such good care of our “sensitive flower,” and to Elsa Sinclair for joining Team Dottie Belle!
Dottie was the star of this week’s Where Are They Now? feature at Emerald Downs. This video contains a great message about the value of horses who cannot be ridden, and we’re super proud of SAFE Board Member Eve Tai for this terrific interview!
Thanks to the efforts of Team Dottie, we are kept well up to date on the progress of our girl. Here are some recent photos of Dottie in her foster home:
As much as we’ve loved having Dottie Belle at Safe Harbor, the relative confinement hasn’t always worked well for her size and temperament, resulting in a string of colic scares. We’ve done all we can via diet and supplements to keep her happy, but really what this mare needs is to live outside. Now, thanks to Karen at Pacific Moon Equestrian Center, Dottie is able to do just that!
She shares a gigantic field with another mare named Ginger, and the two are great buds. We are so thankful that this amazing foster opportunity has come along for our girl. Dottie gets regular visits from her dear friends Eve and Heather, so we are kept well up to date on how’s she’s doing, even though she’s far away.
We’re quite happy to report that we haven’t had any more colic scares from our dear Dottie recently. Since completing Gastrogard therapy, she’s doing great on a product called Smart Gut and a few other digestive supplements. She gets a mash twice a day made of Beet Pulp, rice bran, senior feed, alfalfa pellets, oil, and salt, and that’s done a great job of keeping her weight up, in addition to her regular rations of hay.
What Dottie needs most is a home where she can have daily turnout along with a friend. She’s a dominant mare so she needs a companion who won’t care about her fussing. She’s very mare-ish and tends to squeal if a gelding even looks at her, so another mare to pal around with would be best. She is a Thoroughbred so some days she does want to run and buck, so her friends have to be okay with that as well. Oh and she HATES flies! A single horse fly can make her go crazy, running and carrying on until she is brought into her stall.
Dottie is a very sweet mare, good around kids and beginners (with supervision). She’s not suitable for riding, but she has a lot more to give than that. She loves being groomed and massaged, and will go into a happy trance when her tail is brushed.
Like so many rescue horses, Dottie has a wisdom about her…she truly understands that the people who are caring for her have saved her from a much worse fate. This mare survived some pretty serious abuse before being rescued, and she deserves a place of her own where she will never again suffer mistreatment. She shows her gratitude in little ways…and she is looking for someone with the ability to understand that. Could that someone be you?
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!
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 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.
Lovely photos taken today of Dottie with her best friend Eve!
Thank you to Eve Tai for this writeup and for the attached videos!
A few weeks ago, SAFE hosted Laura Nurss, a horsemanship and liberty work teacher at Horse Haven at Bear Creek. We asked Laura to come to SAFE Harbor to work with Dottie, Sapphire, and Lola to help them feel more settled in their bodies and with the SAFE human community. As much as we love and care for our SAFE horses, it can be tough to forge a bond with them. Liberty work gives us an avenue through which to build trust, mutual respect, and connection.
Laura started out by sharing that attending to a relationship with a horse out of the saddle directly affects our riding relationship. She demonstrated — through the use of body language, gestures, and movements such as rope twirling — how to establish a connection with our first horse, Dottie. Laura applied pressure (e.g. stepping into Dottie’s space) when she wanted something and released it as soon as Dottie complied. Soon Dottie was trotting and even cantering with ease.
Always give a horse a choice, Laura says, whether between one path that leads to an unpleasant outcome (more work) and another path that might lead to a reward (stroking). Laura also showed us that different horses require different approaches. When Sapphire entered the arena all pinned ears and attitude, Laura applied more pressure by upping the energy and frequently changing Sapphire’s pacing and direction. Laura noted that because Sapphire is a sassy, smart horse, that sessions with her should be active and strong, whereas with Dottie, a more nervous horse, sessions should be slower-paced and with smoother gestures.
SAFE trainer Terry Phelps-Peddy was a quick study, first watching, then shadowing Laura. By the time Lola arrived, Terry was ready. After careening around and testing boundaries, Lola settled down and began running with ease. By session’s end, Lola – yes, LOLA — walked up to Terry, licking and chewing and bowing her head. “At last,” she seemed to be saying, “You are speaking my language.”
A big thank you to Laura for volunteering an afternoon to work with our SAFE ponies!
Dottie is a loving, gentle horse who would make a great companion. We have some concerns about her overall soundness as a riding horse but we are taking things slow with her to see where we end up. If she can only be pasture-sound, it would be nice to see her go to a home where she will get lots of attention. She just loves interaction and learning things. She’d be a great prospect for somebody who is interested in Liberty work, trick-training, or showmanship. She’s not going to be happiest as a “feed-me-and-leave-me-alone” kind of horse, though she’d probably accept whatever gets her by but we would love to find her a home were she can flourish.
From our experience with her so far, she enjoys opportunities to interact. In the past it seems that she has learned to cope with abuse by shutting down. If she was treated unfairly or in a way she couldn’t understand she just went to “her happy place” and easily shut down and now expects people to be unfair and the pressure to be unpleasant. The way she reacts, makes you think that her past wasn’t a very enjoyable place. Our work with her continues to rebuild her trust and allows her a space to safely engage. If you quietly connect with her you find Dottie loves to figure things out and works to please you. She thrives on petting, kind words, and praise.
From what we have gathered she seems to have somehow been taught not to move forward from any pressure anyplace behind her shoulder. She needs to unlearn whatever they taught her, and relearn that pressure at the cinch or behind means to go forward.
Right now Dottie needs careful, consistent handling with every small effort rewarded. She seems very comfortable with and grateful for leadership. When she reacts badly, it’s not at all out of challenging leadership but seems more out of fear of being wrong. When fair consistent leadership happens, she seems pleasantly surprised and engages quite well and quickly, she “wakes up” and is eager to learn. She is able to put together the correct response to what we are asking and seemed quite proud of herself and eager to try more.
Remarkably, given how shut-down she can be, I think Dottie is eager to give over responsibility to a fair, consistent handler who can make her feel safe and show her gently what the correct answer to cues. She doesn’t seem to mind verbal or mild physical corrections, as long as they were applied fairly and followed quickly by further instruction. She needs to know she can have as many tries as she needs to find the answer. When she feels like she is being heard and treated fairly then she likes being part of the game. It’s like at first she’s stuck and can’t go forward, but when she finally does, it’s all she does, and is a bit manic about it. She just needs confidence and consistency for a while and each day seems to be enjoying the work more.
We continue to take baby steps towards lunging. Working on smaller circles close to the handler where we can give her lots of clues, until she develops a consistent understanding of the cues to move forward on the lunge. When she shuts off, easy to see on her face, she needs to be gently brought back to attention and shown what we want from her, then with the correct response we celebrate her successes, no matter how small.
There are some things she’s kind of hung up about, but the more she trusts us the more she’s willing to take direction, even with those issues and that nervousness doesn’t seem to leak into learning new things. She’s willing to be a “clean slate” on new skills, which is really nice.
It’s really hard not to fall in love with this sweet, sweet girl. Dottie loves having her face hugged and petted!!! “Love me and keep me safe” seems to be her motto. I think she’d like to be a cat and just curl up and sleep in your lap if she could. Given her past it is amazing that she can still seek and find such comfort in people. She seems to really enjoy learning new things, as long as you’re loving, fair, and reliable in guiding her to the right answer. She actually does okay with “turning up the heat” as long as it’s in small doses, and works toward a goal that she can “feel” coming. She seems to really enjoy collaborating on new skills. In doing so, we are letting her be part of the process and make the decision to participate. This way we aren’t telling her what to do but rather asking and getting her acceptance. She is not a horse to be bullied into getting something done; she has probably had far too much of that approach in her past then any horse deserves.
Dottie has had a bit of a rough time since the onset of colder weather, including a couple of scary bouts of colic. We had to call the vet out on one occasion but fortunately the colic resolved itself. We watch her closely and give her extra sloppy mashes and electrolytes. She also gets hand walked for 20–25 mins each day. We wish knew what is going on but its still a little mystery. Dottie is a very introverted horse and keeps her tension inside.We’re considering doing a trial of ulcer medication to see if that has any positive effect on her.
Today she started acting a little funny outside in turnout. Swishing her tail and stomping her back feet. We pulled her into the arena and took her blankets off. Good gut sounds but a little flinching in the flacks. Terry turned her loose in the arena and brought Kat in to see if she would help Dottie walk around, roll or anything. Kat’s a great sport and never reacts when the others squeal so she’s the perfect horse to bring in when a friend is needed. Dottie squealed at her then decided it was fun time and played in the arena. She can get very big on her hind legs! After a bit of exercise, she seemed to be feeling better.
We’ve started to teach her to lunge, and it’s been a bit of a challenge. Dottie finds the whole thing a little confusing, so Terry usually starts with ground work to reassure her that nothing bad is going to happen. Dottie will almost hold her breath and “turn off” when they start working, but with quiet and lots of praise, she’ll begin to lick and chew and take deep breaths. After a few minutes she’s able to start lunging — although this usually involves two handlers on the ground — and before long she really looks like she is having fun moving free. We took her shoes off a few months ago and she is doing great without them and has no soreness.
Dottie wore a dragon costume for the Haunted Open House, and she was cute as a bug in her SAFE purple splendor! The base of the costume was a full hooded lyrca slinky, and Dottie was completely unfazed by having it put on her. In fact, once it was on, she seemed happy and comfortable! She was an adorable little dragon, take a look!
Dottie is a tall and beautiful Thoroughbred mare, who came to us via a pair of good samaritans who helped remove her from an abusive owner. She is reportedly a former broodmare who was approved by the Westphalian registry, but she’s had a difficult life and has fallen in and out of rescue situations for many years. Her guardian angels arranged transportation to SAFE in Woodinville, and we are in the process of getting to know her. She is pretty high-strung and has had a bit of difficulty interacting with other horses so far. We’re hoping that she will settle in and start to feel more comfortable in her new surroundings soon.
Dottie’s Ten Friends:
1. Yaffa C.
2. Donna G.
3. Lola V.
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!