2014 Yakima Reservation gelding
Suitability: For Intermediate Handler
Markings: star, snip, LF, RH
Height: 14.0 hh
Weight: 850 lbs
Adoption Fee: $300
Jacob, along with Edward and Esme, were obtained by their previous owners through a now defunct rescue organization by a family that moved to Washington state hoping to keep horses on a rented property near their home. They soon discovered that the property flooded rather badly during the fall and winter months. With no other options available to them, these horses just had to live in the wet. Thankfully, they were able to survive under these poor conditions. Edward had been suffering from equine asthma for quite some time, resulting in severe weight loss that left him quite emaciated. Jacob and Esme looked better, but that was somewhat deceptive because they had large parasite loads, making their bellies look big. Their owner turned to SAFE for help after coming to the realization that caring for these three horses was more than they could handle.
Jacob is, for the most part, a pretty chill gelding, but this is not to say he can’t have an opinion, especially when asked to move out. While we had started Jacob under saddle, we are currently in the assessment period to determine whether or not he would be happier as a companion. In the meantime, this big goofball enjoys spending his days hanging out with his best buddy, Edward.
Jacob, we have learned, vacations well.
I love this term, ‘vacations’, and the implications it has for horses (and humans) alike. While I don’t exactly imagine a horse on a beach, sipping piña coladas sprawled out on a lawn chair, the reality isn’t much different: a horse in a paddock, brought in to be brushed and farriered and occasionally doctored if need be, but otherwise spending his days grazing on grass and munching on hay. There might not be a tiny umbrella perched in their hay net, but the chill vibes are abundant.
Jacob has been on a bit of a vacation these last few months as we work through a long list of horses who are less inclined to do well without a regular job. The Esmes and Addies and Edwards of this world continue to hone their craft towards being gentle riding horses (riding horses, they already are — adoptable, too! but riding is a practiced art, never one with an end point, and there are always things to work towards) while the Dominos and Bijous and Jacobs graze and nap and kick up their heels when and how they see fit. Jacob has been included in that latter category, the companion category, as we’ve let him settle back into his routine here at SAFE, as as we thought about what his future path would look like.
Jacob was adopted out as a companion horse, though he had been started under saddle and been doing some light riding before that time. Jacob’s confirmation is nothing to behold, but our vets felt that he could be comfortably maintained as a riding horse if what was asked of him was kept to a minimum. Now, with his return, we had to determine the path that would be best to take him on going forward, thinking first of his comfort.
So the last time Joel was here, we brought Jacob out for a brief assessment. Jacob’s main issue has always been his dullness (aka, his slow response time and lack of response to pressure) and his stuck feet. Our primary goal with Jacob is to help him learn that forward is his friend, and that being prompt about that forward motion is his best friend of them all. Jacob is not a horse who can or should be worked for long stretches — the best way to light a fire under a dull horse is to do so quickly and efficiently. Short bursts of movement help to build a positive foundation for Jacob, one where he does not tune his handler out, but instead is ready and waiting to be responsive to their ask. For a horse like Jacob, who likely went his entire eight years before meeting us learning how to and being rewarded for pushing people around, these changes will not happen overnight. Kaya, who worked with Jacob before he left and who is continuing that work now, limits her sessions with Jacob to usually total less than half an hour. But in that short window of time, she makes the work count. And there have been positive changes in Jacob since his vacation period ended and his reentry into work began.
Here’s the real crux of the story though, and why I brought up vacations in the first place: Jacob was last saddled many months ago, and ridden even before that time. On that initial day we brought him back out into the roundpen, we felt it would be as good a time as any to see how he would do ‘back in the saddle,’ and to our mild surprise, he didn’t even blink an eye as he was cinched up and sent around loose. It was like not a singular day had passed since he’d last been saddled.
But we are still at a crossroads when it comes to Jacob’s ultimate path. Our main goal, as is the baseline with all of our horses, is to help Jacob be as gentle and manageable on the ground as possible. And while he is, most of the time, there is still that lack of responsiveness and pushy element to him that can be at times unwieldy if he is allowed to take advantage of his handler. So helping Jacob become a better citizen is our primary focus. Secondary would be building his strength, and seeing about the sustainability of Jacob’s future as a riding horse. Like mentioned before, his shape is not suited for intense bouts of ridden work, but we will monitor him as he re-enters the working world and assess his comfort level as he continues to strengthen, both his body and his mind.
So while his vacation days might be over, I say that vacations are best appreciated after work anyway, right?
If you’re looking for a photogenic horse, a horse who practically poses for you when you take out your camera, then look no further than Jacob. Well, ok, Jacob and Edward — they’re kind of a matched set, and the way they play off one another’s energies is second to none. Book them for your next gig requiring two chestnut geldings who really understand how to make line work in their favor, and who are not afraid to use the other as an accessory (is that the Edward scarf draped over your withers, Jacob? from the SAFE Cruise 2023 collection?) Standing by their paddock on any given day, at really any given time, is just an excuse for them to show off how much they really enjoy one another’s company — and how good they look doing it.
Another extraordinary thing about the two of them is how, despite the fact that you could be easily convinced they are physically, literally attached at the hip, neither one hoots or hollers when the other leaves.
Right now, Jacob has mostly been spending his downtime looking pretty. But he’s also been enjoying this warm weather on his newly slicked out coat and time out on grass with, you guessed it, Edward.
Part of our adoption process at SAFE involves doing our best to ensure the matches made between horse and human are the best fits possible. We try to make sure of this before the horse is out the door – adopters are encouraged to come and visit with their potential new family member as many times as they like to feel fully comfortable with the partnership, as sometimes a single meeting is not quite enough. But there are always some factors we cannot account for here at SAFE, which is why we have a trial period written into our adoption contracts. If for whatever reason it’s not working out during that time, the horse is free to return to SAFE.
When Jacob left for his adoption trial, we crossed our fingers that all would work out, as we always do. But, as sometimes happens, the fit was not quite right, and after giving it a very fair shake, it was decided the best course of action would be for Jacob to return to SAFE.
I don’t want you to think of this as a sad story. Of course our wish for all of the SAFE horses is to find forever homes, but sometimes that process is non-linear. More often than not, the horses who take a little longer to place are just waiting for the home that ends up being storybook perfect for them. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we are committed to giving each horse the time they need to find the best situation for all parties involved. We are also so grateful for adopters who are open and honest about how things are going – being able to recognize that the fit isn’t quite right and make that decision benefits the horse so much in the long run. It also helps us to better understand what that horse’s ideal fit looks like going forward.
Jacob’s arrival back at SAFE meant his reunion with best friend Edward. The two were always thick as thieves, and acted as though no time had passed when reintroduced – they were back to kicking up their heels together and biting (lovingly) at one another’s necks in no time.
Jacob’s return also made us consider his future. It is no secret that his confirmation is not that of a prize-winner, but Jacob was doing well as a light riding horse before he left. However, he was adopted out as a companion, which is perhaps a more ideal path for him going forward. We will think on it a bit more and consult further with our vets, but in the meantime let Jake get settled back in here at SAFE, where his hunt for a home will continue, but where he can stay for as long as he needs.
Our sweet Jacob is ready to meet his human!
He is a primarily easy-going guy who would thrive in a home with an intermediate rider who is looking to ride frequently – because he is still green and learning boundaries, he will do best in a home where he is in regular work. He has proven to be level-headed on walks outside the arena and quite brave when faced with new and unfamiliar circumstances, which makes us feel that his ideal situation would involve being someone’s trail partner.
Admittedly, he is not the most well-built horse. His confirmation is best suited for easy pleasure riding versus extreme athletic endeavors — he would not do well running barrels, jumping, or on intense trails. But this does not mean that he cannot be a great partner for someone looking to take casual trail rides or do some simple flat work.
We love Jacob’s pumpkin-pie color, and the perfect whipped cream dollop star in the middle of his forehead.
We love his relationship with pasture-mate Edward, and how even though the two are joined at the hip, he throws no fit when removed from his buddy.
And we love how far Jacob has come since arriving at SAFE. Now, he’s ready for the next part of his journey.
Jacob stands for the farrier and vet, trailer loads and ties. So if you’re Team Jacob, come meet him today!
In addition to gaining miles under saddle, Jacob is learning some other fun things — like how relaxing it can be to be roped off of. Kaya and Jacob like to end their rides by throwing the rope a few times, which is a great exercise for Jacob to learn to be okay with the potentially frightening idea of an object swinging above his head, flying off in front of him, and touching him all over. But our Jakey has a reasonable mind, and barely blinked the first time Kaya took her rope down. He may not ever get the chance to work a cow, but each experience he has like this helps him to become an even more reliable trail buddy and riding partner.
Jacob has been under saddle now since the beginning of this year. He was the easiest of his compatriots to saddle, but that does not mean that he was the safest. Jacob is perfectly easy to get along with if you both have the same ideas about what to do, but as soon as you ask him to do something that he would rather not, problems arise.
It first manifested when driving him forward. He felt that he could not move, which resulted in him turning and striking in frustration. Jacob is not a bad horse – he is a sweet boy who does want to do right, but his confusion can turn into what seems like belligerence sometimes.
Kaya has been working with Jacob to support him through his time as a riding horse and facilitate greater understanding of boundaries. Boundaries are key to Jacob’s success. Without them, he runs the risk of falling back on his old patterns of behavior, ones that involved buffaloing humans.
As a riding partner, Jacob is soft and level-headed. He rides well on a loose rein, and under Kaya’s tutelage, is currently working on a soft feel and stopping on two reins. Following a line in a big space, like an arena, is challenging for Jacob at this point because he is still so green, but with more time under his cinch, he will certainly get there. He has already proven himself to be quite brave, going on walks around the property and out on the trails. All in all, Jacob’s future looks bright as a level-headed trail horse.
Although they took their names from the rival love interest’s in Stephanie Meyer’s ‘Twilight,’ our equine Jacob and Edward could not be any closer to the definition of two peas in a pod. If they are together, they appear as one creature, joined at the hip (or cheek)! One could spend hours outside their paddock, just watching the way they interact with one another. But although they are inseparable, when one goes off to work, the other is perfectly content to be left alone — there is not an element of herd bound-ness that attaches them. Though they have both been started as riding horses and will most likely one day go their separate ways, here at SAFE we fantasize about the two getting adopted out as a pair so they can truly continue to be best friends, forever.
People may not realize all the little things our horses need to learn before they can be considered ready for adoption. Some come in with little to no domestic life skills while others have troubles due to frustration and misunderstanding that humans created. These are things that the general horse owner may take for granted. These are simple things horses need to be willing to do for just day to day life as a domestic horse. Three major check offs that Jacob recently marked off his list were: standing tied, getting a bath and loading safely into a trailer.
It may sound very basic, however these are huge accomplishments that Jacob and his handler should be congratulated on achieving. The funny thing about all three… only about 10% of the effort was needed to accomplish the event itself. Why is that you ask? Because all the work was done in the preparation. It is the groundwork foundation that Jacob has been receiving at SAFE that made all three of these happen easily and without trouble.
These three are major milestones and very important for horses to accomplish before they are adopted. It is small things like this that can make the difference in how successful a horse is in their adoption placement. Skills like these follow them their entire lives and can play an important role in keeping them safe. People don’t want “problem” horses and those that lack basic skills can be sold and given up on time and time again by humans. It may take a bit more effort and time at SAFE while they get this key foundation but without these skills horses would be vulnerable to losing their homes in the future if they can’t get along with simple domestic norms.
People forget to work on the whole horse and prepare them for any challenges in the future. Some are in such a rush to ride them and send them out in the world that they miss things and leave big holes in the horse’s foundation. They might even get by with “surface working” the horse and leaving trouble in them. When they have issues with the farrier or trailer loading they think the horse is acting up but they never dealt with the core basics.
Lessons learned the hard way: A very sad call came into SAFE not that long ago. A person had gotten a horse about 6 or so months ago and hadn’t been able to ride it all winter. They decided out of the blue to take the horse out for a trail ride. They had done no work with the horse since buying it and thought it would be a good idea to just load up all the gear and go. Well the horse was loaded and completely had a melt down panic in the trailer. They told us it was a miracle they were able to get the horse out of there alive. Sadly, they were calling to ask us to take the horse. Zero time or effort had gone into building a relationship with the horse and preparing them to handle things as simple as trailering. And now the horse is losing a home and yet again being sent down the road as someone else’s “problem horse”.
We know the foundation stuff isn’t exciting or maybe even the “fun” part of owning horses, although we know a barn full of volunteers at SAFE that would beg to differ, but it is vital to the long term safety of the horse’s life. It doesn’t take that much effort or time to chip away at it but don’t leave issues under the surface. You might just find that a few minutes spent on proper leading, and things like trailer loading become a piece of cake!
For some, going to the dentist is no big deal. Jacob, whose human persona would, for the most part, be something akin to a laid back surfer dude, is one such fellow. He recently had his first dental visit since arriving at SAFE, and took it all in stride. He was a very good boy for his sedation shot, and once under the influence, was a perfect patient.
Jacob had some sharp points that Dr. Renner filed down, but other than that, had an entirely unremarkable mouth. Dr. Renner also estimated that Jacob is around 8 years old, which is in keeping with the information we had on him. After his visit, a very sleepy Jacob stumbled down the aisle way to a stall that was prepped for his recovery from sedation – most likely to dream of sharing a flake of hay with his good buddy, Edward.
Terry had this to say about Jacob:
Jacob is a good gelding with a fair amount of try. His biggest issues stem from years prior to SAFE when he learned to evade any pressure put on him. Like any young horse he has at times tested the leadership of his handlers. Most likely, as a young horse, he found that he could intimidate or pressure people to move out of his way. He had a bit of a wake-up call during SAFE’s colt starting clinic when he discovered that he can no longer use this method to control the situation. The hard part as a horseman is taking on the trouble others have put into the horses that come into SAFE. At times, in order to help them get to the other side of trouble, one must be courageous and firm with boundaries. You simply can’t kiss and hug them into acting safely around people. An understanding has to be found that peace is available when they accept the “good deal” presented to them by the handler.
Jacob is one of those horses with “hidden troubles”. On the surface, as long as nothing is asked of him that requires him to give to more pressure that he feels is okay, he is fairly easy to get along with on the ground. Leaving trouble spots like this in a horse can quickly become a very dangerous situation. Working around them or “surface” working them, can leave this danger inside and will eventually come out in an unpleasant experience. This happens all the time when you go to a show or a clinic and you have a horse that is acting “naughty”. Often you may hear the handler say things such as, “He is never like this at home.” Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are things at that at home are not being addressed and are coming to the surface in environments that add a level of stress different than at home. At a clinic years ago, I asked Buck Brannaman for activities that can be done at home to help this issue. One of his suggestions was to make sure the horse knows how to go up and down through the gaits off of “feel” and learns to connect more to the handler’s “feel” than other distractions. The more they are asked to be with you, the more you can support them when external stress adds energy. The more they think you are the “most interesting thing in the room,” the more likely they will look to you for how to respond in situations that worry them.
It did not take much for Jacob to choose the good deal presented but it is essential that anyone handling him have consistency about this acceptance of pressure. Over the next months it is important that he always hears and feels the same level of support from people around him. As the winter progresses we will get him less dull and more responsive than reactive. He should make a lovely recreational riding horse. We plan on starting him as a riding horse in the spring of this year.
We are moving at a fairly good pace with Edward despite his continued breathing issues. He is still very wary about people approaching him to be caught but each time he is quickly haltered and doesn’t have the opportunity to get away, he finds the event less and less stressful. Part of the problem with horses that have had some halter work in the past is that they have learned where the “outs” are from getting caught. They have been rewarded time and time again, for evasion when people have tried to halter them and failed. That is a learned behavior and a very hard foundation to change.
At this time, I am building trust with Edward and he understands that my patience will outlast his maneuvers to get around the issue of getting caught. Sadly, the poor haltering in the past also taught him to pull a bit of a nasty expression and he has tried a few times to take control and move my feet. Luckily when he charged me, I was able to get a change that has carried over in the days that have followed. Simply put, I rewarded the smallest of tries, made the wrong thing difficult (not impossible) and the right thing easy. Horses naturally are going to move away and don’t try to aggressively come towards a person’s space unless they feel trapped and are given no other options. Those who have learned that pushing into a person makes person back off will try this as a way to get people to leave them alone. Edward is at a crossroads in his life, and we are thankful he made it to SAFE. Here can help him bring about the changes needed so he can have a safe and happier life with people.
He still needs a lot of work. We are helping him search for the right things by making them always the easiest and rewarding his try. He is rewarded when his feet are free and he finds balance with all four feet reaching equally. He tends to push and become heavy on his inside shoulder. Once he finds balance he will be move more comfortably and won’t be heavy or stuck in his feet. Right now, we continue with clear short amounts of work that help to “get life”, energy and freedom in his feet.
Health-wise, he is now at a great weight. He’s seen the farrier for trims on all four hooves. He’s also been vaccinated and is scheduled for a dental next month. We have introduced him to a nebulizer to administer medication to help with his breathing. Training for that has gone well and he has begun a course of twelve days of medication. If that improves his breathing, we will wean him off the prednisolone we’re currently giving him. If all goes well we will be able to lower the nebulizer treatments to a few times a week as maintenance, which he may or may not need for the rest of his life.
Esme has been great to halter and was well prepared and well behaved for her first farrier visit. Since she has been easy to catch, she has not gotten as much attention in the groundwork as the other more difficult new intakes. Well that stops now! Time for this little one to get busy. She was poorly halter broke coming into SAFE and needs to relearn the foundations of haltering. Like Edward, she had learned through her previous experiences with people where her outs are and that she can run over the top of her handlers. Our first goal is for her to learn that she can move freely without pushing on the halter. Just plain better halter starting work. Learning to back and to freely bring her front across, being consistent with the freedom all four feet while backing and moving them equally will continue to help this cute little mare improve.
Esme has a very sweet personality, but can get a panicked expression since she was never taught to freely move around on the halter. The work we’ve done has already shown us a more relaxed and peaceful mare that should make changes quickly and move towards becoming a riding horse in the next few months.
Overall Jacob has been a gentleman to work with and is very kind-hearted. He is not over reactive and has accepted the work very well. He has been vaccinated, wormed, seen the farrier (was prepared and had absolutely no issues picking up all four feet), and is scheduled for a dental next month. He is a big handsome dude horse and will move through the training program quickly. His main goals currently are to bring up his energy, and give him a big reward for his try. Overall he looks relatively sound but has some muscle atrophy along his left hind side. We will work to help him strengthen his hind quarters and if needed, have his soundness evaluated by our vets. These three horses were living in very poor conditions for many years so the process to full health and recovery will take time. We have a very good feeling he will make a great riding partner and we will give him all the support needed to make that a successful endeavour.
Jacob is such a sweet horse! He seems very comfortable with people and is very easy to halter and groom. Jacob even got his front feet trimmed by Joel and is starting to allow his back feet to be picked up. Jacob is also starting to understand a flag and sort out the difference between meaningful pressure and non-meaningful stimulus. Hopefully we will be able to walk to the round pen soon so we can continue his training in that space!
Edward and Jacob are both seven year old geldings, while Esme is a 6 year old mare. They were obtained through a now defunct rescue organization by a family that moved to Washington state hoping to keep horses on a rented property near their home. They soon discovered that the property flooded rather badly during the fall and winter months. With no other options available to them, these horses just had to live in the wet. Thankfully, they were able to survive under these poor conditions. However, Edward has apparently been suffering from equine asthma for quite some time, resulting in severe weight loss that has left him quite emaciated. The other two horses look better, but that’s somewhat deceptive because they have large parasite loads, making their bellies look big. Their owner turned to SAFE for help after coming to the realization that caring for these three horses was more than they could handle.
As with most of the horses that SAFE takes in, there are lessons we can learn from what these horses have experienced in life up to now. While these three are not nearly as wild and feral as the Fall City 40 were, they are still untrained and fairly shy about being handled. Terry has already been able to get halters on them and even deworm them without a great deal of trouble. But what people need to understand when deciding to take on a wild horse is that Terry has years of experience working with horses like these. She has put in countless hours of practice, and she’s invested a ton in her own education to improve her already considerable skills. When we hear someone say that they want to take on a wild or young horse and figure out how to tame them as they go along, we literally cringe. This is a bad idea that can put the horse at tremendous risk for a difficult and challenging future. So many horses end up in the rescue pipeline because they didn’t get a good foundation in basic handling at the beginning of their life. This is why we strongly encourage people who want to be involved with horses to invest in a well started horse that they can learn from and enjoy. But alas, not everyone is listening, and that is why horses like Edward, Jacob, and Esme need SAFE to rescue them.
As mentioned, Edward is painfully thin, and battling equine asthma which is a lower airway inflammation, formerly known as heaves. Untreated equine asthma can cause massive weight loss very quickly for two reasons: one, because overuse of respiratory muscles can burn a great number of calories and two, because they don’t eat or drink as much as they should because it’s hard to breathe and eat at the same time. Edward was in respiratory distress when he arrived at SAFE. At his initial vet visit, Dr Lewis from Rainland Farm Equine immediately gave him a steroid medication and within 10 minutes, we saw an improvement in his breathing. He’s been prescribed a range of medications to help him, including steroids for the inflammation and bronchodilators to open the airways. He was also given a short course of an antibiotic (naxcel) as his bloodwork showed signs of a secondary infection. We’re wetting down his hay to reduce dust, and he’s been taken off the hay he’d been fed prior to his rescue since we suspect it contains mold. Our hope is that when his asthma is controlled, he will start putting weight on again. Fingers crossed that this young horse and his two friends will make full recoveries, so we can get them into the SAFE horsemanship program and start them on their way to brand new lives.
Vet and feeding expenses for these three horses will be quite costly, so if you’d like to take part in their recovery, we welcome donations to be put toward their care. Thank you so much for your amazing support and please keep your good wishes coming for Edward and his friends, as well as Cameron!
Edward (photos by Kristina Oden)
Esme (photos by Kristina Oden)
Jacob (photos by Kristina Oden)
1. Julia P.
2. C.C. Schott
3. Ruth K.
4. Sundee R.
5. Jean E.
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!