description: 2007 chestnut Arab gelding
type of rescue: Snohomish County Animal Control seizure
intake date: 7/27/2015
adoption date: 12/1/2015
length of time with SAFE: 4 months


Hickory’s Story: Hickory and Mesquite were seized by Animal Control from their owner as part of a long running situation of neglect. Both horses were seized as stallions and gelded before being signed over to SAFE. Although neither horse appeared to have much prior handling, they displayed fairly decent behavior from the start. Hickory was ridden for the first time during the Joel Conner clinic at Safe Harbor in mid August 2015. He was quite impressive in his debut as a saddle horse, partly because he was a sensible and athletic young horse, but also because he was a blank slate without many issues that needed to be overcome. Hickory was adopted straight from training to a wonderful home where he does lots of trail riding.

Alumni Update: Hickory (Listo)

Alumni Update: Hickory (Listo)

We recently received an update from Hickory’s (now known as Listo) adopter, who tells us that Listo is in good shape. He enjoyed some grass turnout this summer, but is now back on a dry lot for the fall and winter months. Sadly, Listo recently lost his two buddies, and while old friends can’t be replaced, new ones can be made. Listo’s adopter is currently searching for a new friend for him, but in the meantime he has been the recipient of lots of extra care and attention from his humans, and is lucky enough to be surrounded by lots of equine neighbors.

Listo’s adopter has expressed that the pair has had a lot of fun doing some groundwork exercises this year, with hooking on being a particular highlight. She says that it is a real treat to get to experience this with Listo, because he is a great horse who wants to please.

We also asked his adopter a handful of questions about Listo, and here’s what she had to say:

What is your horse’s favorite treat?
The classic.….We stick to the occasional carrot chunks.

What is your horse’s most winning characteristic?
He will also come to me when I tap my hand on my chest. It was taught to me as a chest pull. This works from just about any distance 30–300 feet.

What does your horse like best about YOU?
I am his person and he want to hang out with me. I guess that says he likes me. He chooses me.

An update on Hickory (now Listo)

this just in from Hickory’s adopter:
I thought you might like a Listo (aka Hickory) update. Listo has been with us for 8 months now. He is doing great and has settled in with my other two horses. There have been some challenges along the way but none to great and none requiring a vet visit for anyone.

I rode LIsto lots this spring and summer. Now that it is fall and the rains are here I have slowed down. However i get on him whenever I can. I have discovered that Listo is very brave and quite willing to try new things. He was more than willing to come up the porch steps and into the house the other day. Of course I did not let him but was surprised at his willingness.

Joel did a great job with starting him. Now that I have a saddle horse I can ride consistently my skills (timing and feel) have come back a lot more, Listo has been patient with me and I have been OK on my own with him for the last 8 months. I am able to ride Listo at all three speeds in the round pen and out in my pasture. He is more that willing to go. We do lots and lots of transitions. 

I started Listo over small fences this summer and he seems to enjoy them as well as other obstacles (cavelleties, tarps, etc). I have a wooden bridge for him and the other horses to walk over. He did not even look at it the first time I asked him to walk over it. We are now stopping on top of it and hanging out. 

I am getting ready to introduce him to a giant ball soon. We have been having a great time getting to know each other and building trust. Listo is a special horse and we are so glad he is with us.

Thank you again SAFE for helping this handsome horse out and giving him a home until he could find his forever home with us in Rainier.


Adoption Announcement: Hickory!

hickory_08_16_2015Hickory has been adopted! It is wonderful that this gentle boy has found a perfect home while he’s been training with Joel Conner. Fran, his new owner, is an avid trail rider who is looking forward to having him join her two older horses.

Fran plans on leaving Hickory in training with Joel for a few more months.  This is a great chance for him to learn more and for Fran to get to know him better while they take lessons.

Hickory’s success began with Animal Control pulling him from a neglectful situation. SAFE then helped by taking care of his dental needs and offering the care needed to prepare for training.  Finally, he was given the opportunity to work with a great trainer.  Joel really has helped this boy realize his potential.

Along with a new home, Hickory is also getting a new name, Listo, which means ready.  He is READY for a new life, where he’ll be loved and cared for by his own family.

While we didn’t get to spend a lot of time with this boy, this is a beautiful transformation.  Sometimes it all just falls into place and, when it does, it is terrific to see a happy ending.  We look forward to seeing the relationship with his new family grow into a forever love.


Hickory & Mesquite: Training Update

All reports have been glowing for our new riding horses, Hickory and Mesquite. They are both in training with Joel Conner and are coming along well with the work.

As expected, Hickory has been fairly easy with only minimal issues. He is the younger of the two and never really displayed much studdish behavior after being gelded. Hickory will be returning to SAFE with about two months of professional training. In fact, we are hoping to arrange transport home for him within the next few weeks.

Mesquite has been at Joel’s for just a month and will take another month or two of training before he is ready to come home for the volunteers to work with and ride. He was about 11 years old when he was gelded so he knew a bit more of the “stallion life.” But even though Mesquite has been very well behaved on the ground so far, he’s got a lot more to learn before he’s finished with his professional training.

Both boys are already going solidly at walk, trot, and canter. While they are still green, they are ready to be shown to adopters with the skills to handle them at this point in their training. If you are interested in knowing more about them or want to meet them while in training with Joel in Vancouver WA, please fill out an adoption application or email me at adopt@safehorses.org. These are two very nice, sound geldings who won’t stick around long!

SAFE’s clinic with Joel Conner and Colt starting demonstrations

It was a pleasure this past weekend to have Joel Conner visit the SAFE horses and teach our volunteers. We began each morning, with a colt starting demonstration where Joel worked with Hickory, Mesquite and Ben. Joel is an expert when it comes to working with un-started horses and it was clearly evident that his years of experience have giving him the timing and insight to know exactly what they need to have a successful start.

This method of horsemanship and starting horses has the horse’s wellbeing at the top of the priorities. It is fair and prepares the horses for each new step in the process. They may not understand fully what is happening but Joel was there to help them through each part and they were not surprised or made to feel any undue stress or pressure did not have a release. As many of us know, you don’t have to start horses in a way that takes anything away from their spirit. That’s what we love about them and when we ask them to partner with us, to become our riding companions, they can do so with out force or fear. Joel said that his work is about the horse; it is finding ways each day to do right by them and helping them have a clear and clam understanding of the work they do together. Watching him work this weekend it was clear he has a true gift and our horses are benefitting for his kindness.

Hickory has a very inquisitive and gentle disposition, which made him one of the star pupils. This great personality will inevitably make him a wonderful partner and this weekend it helped him accept the saddle and rider without stress. Joel prepared him for saddling through groundwork and gaining Hickory’s trust. We were all amazed at both Joel’s skill and Hickory’s willingness to accept being ridden. I knew that we were lucky to have Joel working with the SAFE horses but after watching him work with both Hickory and Mesquite, our two most recent intakes and gelded Arabians, I feel blessed and grateful he is on our team. Hickory did so well that we decided that he would be the first to go down for training with Joel. He loaded on Joel’s trailer Sunday afternoon and headed to get a few more weeks of training before returning to SAFE Harbor and having our volunteers begin riding him. He is going to be an amazing riding horse!

Mesquite is a bit more reserved than Hickory. He is the older of the two and had more years as a stallion and at the hands of his abusers. He is wary of new people approaching him and has an eye on what is going on around him. He is thoughtful to new things but was willing to work with Joel and see what he had to offer him. The changes Mesquite made over just the few short days were outstanding. Joel allowed him to take the time he needed to accept and move out in the saddle. By the second morning Mesquite was walk, trot and cantering without any worry. All the horses were hardly sweating under their saddles and were calm and relaxed throughout the work. Mesquite is going to make someone a very lucky adopter! He is going to take a little bit longer to open up to new people but there is a very kind boy under all that mane and we are feeling lucky to have been given the responsibility to find him a perfect forever home!

Last up for the demonstrations was Big Ben! Before going into work with him, I explained to Joel that we want the best for Ben and if riding is not in his future we are ok with that. I was again reconfirmed why Joel is such a perfect fit for these troubled horses. Ben has years of people letting him down, passing him around, starving and forgetting about him. SAFE will never let that happen again and is giving him the opportunity to understand people are not afraid of him. Past experiences have put braces in his body that don’t need to be there. Joel worked to help Ben free up his body and left go of the baggage someone else had put in there. It will take some time sorting this out for our big boy but the changes we saw though the work with Joel have us optimistic that Ben can make it though. Our plan is to send Ben down to Joel’s for an extended amount time and allow him to move through the process without being rushed or pressured. He continues to put on more weight and is more comfortable and happy everyday. SAFE is committed to this sweet boy and he has a very bright future ahead of him.