2006 palomino Saddlebred mare
Type of Rescue: Animal Control seizure
Intake Date: 2/23/2008
Adoption Date: 7/24/2008
Returned to SAFE:  01/6/2018
Adoption Date: 4/30/2008
Length of time at SAFE: 8 months

ADOPTED by Marianna C of Seattle WA

Duchess became a SAFE horse in 2008 as part of a major Animal Control seizure involving 17 horses. Duchess was 2 years old at the time of the seizure, and arrived emaciated with horribly overgrown feet and parasites. After she was returned to health, she was adopted to a great home where she was loved and cared for for nearly 10 years. She was professionally started under saddle, and became a wonderful beginner safe trail horse. In 2014 she suffered an injury and spent the next 3 years enjoying pasture rest. Unfortunately Duchess’ owners were no longer able to keep her, and were unsuccessful finding a new home for her in their area. The decision was made to return her to SAFE where she could get some refresher training under saddle in preparation for finding the perfect adopter. Duchess was ridden regularly at SAFE and participated in two Joel Conner clinics with her volunteer rider, Phoebe. 3 months after returning to SAFE, Duchess was adopted by a lovely rider who plans to do dressage with her. She has been re-christened “Esperanza,” which means “hope.”

Duchess’ Next Chapter of Hope

Duchess’ Next Chapter of Hope

Here at SAFE we have a lot to say about our horses, a lot of stories to share. But in the case of Duchess, whose re-adoption became final in June 2018, a new voice has taken up her story, and it’s only fitting that we share that with our wonderful supporters so everyone can appreciate the journey that this horse has taken. She’s been rechristened Esperanza, which means Hope. This is the latest chapter in a new story being written every day.

Oh what can I say about this golden girl that hasn’t already been said?

She is simply lovely. Even though Esperanza has only been with me for a short time, she has stolen the hearts of many at her new home, mine included. Her name literally means hope and she embodies that to her fullest. I don’t feel that I initiated the adoption with her, but she did with me. We shared a moment when we first met – we made eye contact, she approached me with her ears forward and without hesitation she placed her head into my arms as if to say “hello, would you be my human?”

That moment was really all that it took for me to come around to say “yes” to her simple request. I rode her a couple times at SAFE and each time she responded to me in a way that she hadn’t with other riders, so I’m told. We did have a set back the day she was going to be dropped off at our barn, I got a call from SAFE that she had caught a cold and we needed to push it back until she was healthy. The news devastated me, but it was the right call. I went out to be with her two or three times while she got better, we bonded further and at that point I think she knew what was happening.

A week later, she was dropped off “healthy as a horse” to her new home. She is settling in so well at the barn — she goes out every day with the other mares and LOVES it, she has an endless supply of carrots and treats from her momma, she just got a new saddle and bridle, and is working with my wonderful trainers.

I’ve been riding horses ever since I was could remember. Horses are the one thing that have always given me continuous and steady happiness. I have had several horses over the years, unfortunately both ended painfully abrupt. I had taken a horse hiatus while I was in grad school, but after I was graduated and employed, I decided it was time to go back to what I always went back to – and that was horses.

I leased an amazing horse for a year, a gelding that will always have a place in my big old heart, and that time I spent with him ignited me to seek for a forever bond with a horse of my own again. Which is when I reached out to SAFE and told Terry my very long story. I originally put together an application for a complete different horse at SAFE, but it was all over after I met Esperanza. And now here I am, with a gentle sweet mare that chose me and heals me just as much as I heal her.

My riding style is different than what Esperanza has done before, I practice classical dressage and it is very relaxed and calming. I plan to have her in training for the next few months to build a solid foundation. But even for the past thirty days or so I have seen her drastically improve and begin to have “ah ha” moments, which I love to witness. She is a fast learner, eager to please and I am amazed how responsive she is to the work.

SAFE holds a special place in my heart now, not just for the amazing work that they do but because I will forever be grateful to Terry and the rest of the staff for connecting Esperanza and I together. The process was amazing, and I think that everything worked out exactly how it needed to. Anyone that knows me, knows that I can never stop talking about how wonderful Esperanza is and I how much love her already. I couldn’t imagine life any different now.

With love,

Marianna & Esperanza “Essie”

Duchess: Joel Conner Clinic Report

Duchess: Joel Conner Clinic Report

SAFE volunteer rider Phoebe rode Duchess in the April Joel Conner clinic. Here’s what she had to say about the experience:

Duchess, what a great teacher she is! Understanding that her inability to hold a focus for very long can be used to distract her from her insecurities. Joel was awesome at identifying the ‘jiggle’ of the rein as a focus changer. For her, it was gentle, quiet, and effective. Halfway thru Day 3, she was calm, relaxed, attentive, and very willing. For me, it was a great experience! I’m sure someone more experienced would have had her there on Day 1, but for me, she was a great teacher and I won’t forget her lessons. And Joel’s. She was able to hold a soft feel longer, keep a steady circle to the left OR right, and learned (at least temporarily) to be in close proximity to other horses and feel confident. What a great clinic! Thank you, Joel!

Duchess Under Saddle

Duchess is back under saddle again. She and Jolene had a quiet first ride in the round pen and a lovely 2nd ride in arena this evening. Duchess is coming back after some years off and settling in nicely to the work. Her gentle disposition will make is suitable to many riders and we expect her to find a home quickly. She is ready to start meeting potential adopters now! Email adopt@safehorses.org or fill out our application online to get a chance to take this beauty home!

Duchess Photos Jan 30, 2018

Duchess had another photoshoot with Jessica today, and modeled her saddle for good measure. Looking good, blondie!

Duchess Photos Jan 18 2018

Here are some photos of our new intake Duchess. Thank you, Jessica Farren!

Getting to know Duchess

Duchess is a lovely gentle mare that we really hope will prove to be suitable for a beginner rider. She settled into Safe Harbor last week nicely and we have lightly started groundwork as we becomes accustom to our barn and getting back into work. Overall, things are going very well. The only thing she has had trouble adjusting to is not being with a pasture mate 24/7, as she’s been accustomed to in her past life. She does well in her stall overnight but spends a lot of time looking out her window. She would prefer to live outside with a buddy so when looking for her perfect placement, it would be great to find a family that can keep her outside most of the time.

We are helping her with some basic foundation things like re-learning how to stand tied and relaxing when away from other horses. She is catching on quickly and does connect with her handler. We are starting her back to work slowly and hope to have her saddled up soon and beginning some basic riding. She needs to build up some riding muscles before asking too much. She is in great condition and does not require any physical rehabilitation. Over the next few weeks we will be finding out more about her and  have a better understanding what her riding future will look like.

Meeting Duchess myself for the first time I could not stop seeing my old friend Phoenix in her eyes. I know that there is no way to really know how closely they are related but there is definitely a very strong similarity. She was sleeping in the field eating grass for crying out loud! A total Phoenix move!

Jessica Farren took some nice “woolly winter” coat intake photos of this kind mare. Can’t wait to see her coat shine as she sheds out this spring!


We welcomed back an old friend today. Duchess is a 12 year old palomino Saddlebred mare, who came to SAFE as a two year old during a major Animal Control seizure in 2008. Duchess arrived at SAFE emaciated and unhealthy with badly overgrown feet and a dreadful parasite load. She made a perfect recovery from her neglect and spent the next ten years in a wonderful home where she was loved and cared for. She was professionally started under saddle and became a great riding horse, safe enough for a beginner rider and great on the trails. In 2014, she sustained an injury and spent the next 3 years enjoying pasture rest. She made a full recovery and is now sound and healthy.

Unfortunately Duchess’ owners were no longer able to keep her, and were unsuccessful finding a new home for her in their area. The decision was made to return her to SAFE where she could get some refresher training under saddle in preparation for finding the perfect adopter. She is a tall, big bodied palomino who can easily carry a larger adult rider. She gets along very well with other horses, and is happiest in a small herd with friends. We’re starting her with groundwork and will move on to riding her soon.

Here are some photos from Duchess’ first go around as a SAFE horse and her first adoption, including her training: