description: 2014 chestnut Quarter Horse mare
type of rescue: Animal Control seizure
intake date: 12/28/2015
adoption date: 3/24/2018
length of time with SAFE: 3 years

ADOPTED by Alexandra

Jessel’s Story

Jessel is one of three mares seized by animal control in Snohomish County after they were discovered hidden in a barn, locked in filthy stalls, and starving. Jessel was dangerously underweight when she was seized with a Body Condition Score of 1. She and her dam and another mare were signed over to SAFE in late December, four months after their seizure. Jessel is small for her age, likely due to starvation, but she is stunningly pretty and full of life.

Jessel Today

Before her adoption in March 2018, Jessel was in training with Joel Conner in Ellensburg and had been started lightly due to her age. She already showed a ton of talent and athleticism, and had been introduced to some cow sorting and was very keen on the idea of being a working horse.

We were excited to find her a home with Alexandra in Spokane, Washington, who had just lost her 17 year old mare to colic. Alexandra’s experience is a perfect match for Jessel and her continuing education under saddle.

Alumni Update: Jessel

Alumni Update: Jessel

The hoar frost was so beautiful this winter, Alexandra had to get some photos of her and gorgeous Jessel. We’re so happy she shared them with us!


Jessel has been adopted!

Jessel has been adopted!

We are happy to share that Jessel has found a home with Alexandra in Spokane, Washington! Alexandra, an accomplished rider, had just lost her 17 year old mare to colic. Alexandra’s experience is a perfect match for Jessel and her continuing education under saddle.

Before her adoption, Jessel was in training with Joel Conner in Ellensburg and had been started lightly due to her age. She already showed a ton of talent and athleticism, and had been introduced to some cow sorting and was very keen on the idea of being a working horse.

Alexandra’s sister, Natalie, had posted a very sweet in search of ad on social media. She wrote that Alexandra had recently lost her one-of-a-kind mare and was just putting feelers out to see if any available horses matched her “ideal” partner. The ad was forwarded to our Operations Director Terry. She recalls, “When I read what they were looking for I literally got goose bumps. I knew Jessel was a perfect match and I called them that night!”

The next week they came to meet our feisty little filly and the pair looked like they had been made for each other. Alexandra loved her size, spunk and the great foundation Joel had given her. Terry said, “I have to admit Jessel is one of the SAFE horses I remember as ‘the one that got away.’ She is an amazing mare and I am so happy that she has found such a wonderful and loving home.”

Alexandra says, “She is such a joy each and every day and I am so grateful to you for bringing us together.” We are all blessed that this wonderful pair found each other! Looking forward to many years together.

Training Update: Jessel

Jessel is back on the payroll at Joel Conner’s after a light fall schedule. She is now old enough to be in full time work and so we have bumped her work up in preparation to move her back to Safe Harbor in the spring. Joel’s ranch has been a great place for Jessel to mature and learn how to be a “good citizen.” Joel has been able to turn her out with many different horses and she has had excellent and consistent handling with Joel as her primary caretaker. She’ll probably always be a little spitfire but she’s come a long way and will become a lovely partner for a confident smaller adult or teen rider.

We now are actively looking for Jessel’s perfect match. She has a ton of potential and is very athletic so she will need to go to a home with a very capable rider. Once space opens up at our property in Redmond, Jessel will make the move and continue her training here with us. We are excited to be offering such a nice horse for adoption! Please contact us with any questions at

Clinic & Photo Update: Jessel

We got a chance to see Jessel recently when Joel brought her along to the June clinic. We were amazed to see how well this youngster is going under saddle — it only goes to show you the value of good foundations and a proper start! She had her moments — testing Joel, or deciding she should be done for the day — but overall she was very pleasant and well-behaved. Jessel is smart, talented, and athletic, and at this stage, she’ll require a trainer or very experienced hand as her adopter. But she is available for adoption!

We also found out recently that with just a little paperwork, a DNA sample, and some money, Jessel can easily be registered with the AQHA.

Here are some lovely shots of her at the clinic:

Training Update: Jessel

Jessel just turned 3 and she is doing great! We have taken things slow but the training Joel has done with her is really showing. We got to visit with her in Ellensburg and Joel started adding some weight to the end of him rope for her to feel. She did amazing for her first time and had no problem getting used to the feel of the weight of the log. Here are some photos of our visit with her:

Training Update: Jessel

While in Ellensburg this past week, I visited with Jessel who is in training with Joel Conner. She has really grown up in the last few months and we are excited to see how she develops over the summer. Jessel has come a long way and Joel’s patient work with her is really paying off.

When I went out to the pasture to catch her, she came right up to the gate. She was very sweet and happy to have me bringing her in. This is a really good sign that she is enjoying the work . She stood quietly for the most part while tied to be groomed and wait her turn to work. Joel said that it took quite a few training days to get her to stand patiently. Youth and personality are wonderful things but they also make this authentic mare best suited for an experienced hand like Joel. That’s why we are so grateful for his time with her, a lot of which has been donated by him.

Joel saddled her without any issues and did a little groundwork before getting on. Jessel was very good for the riding work and easily went forward through all the gaits. Then the fun part: Joel took her out to the side of the arena and herded the cows into the arena! Jessel had seen the cows before but this time he worked on not only separating one off but also throwing the rope off of her to catch one.

Jessel is a NATURAL! This was my first time seeing a horse work cows but even from my inexperienced eye, I could tell that she liked it. A LOT! She easily “hooked on” to the cow and was drawn into moving their feet. Joel had to correct her a few times when she would get too attached to the cow and not listen to him but she easily came back to him and was very well behaved. Throwing the rope off of her to catch a cow may sound like no big deal but you have to remember not only does Jessel need to be responsive to Joel but she has to not get too excited by the cows, who were kicking up their own heels and enjoying the romp in the arena. More than that he had to go into one rein in order to throw the rope. I am very impressed with Jessel’s abilities and level head for such a young mare. She is a very exciting horse and getting an absolute amazing foundation with Joel.

Jessel: Training Update

Our baby girl Jessel is growing up to be a fine young riding horse! She has spent the winter in Ellensburg with Joel Conner. He has been fostering her and riding her part time. Since she is so young we don’t want to put too much pressure on her to be in full training but this light and easy approach is really turning out a nice horse! We are going to work on getting her AQHA papers this spring and hopefully see her with Joel at the SAFE show in August! Here is a little from Joel about the progress she has made so far:

Jessel is the most athletic horse I have ridden from SAFE! She has extremely smooth gates, has the potential to turn, and stop like a top-notch cow horse! I have put her on cattle and she is really keen on watching and controlling their movements. She is developing into a horse I don’t want to leave! I have turned her out now with one of my geldings and they are getting along great!  She is taking to roping the dummy and is settling into being a gentle filly!

Training Update: Jessel and Lacey

jessel_Lacey_11_11_2016_01Jessel and Lacey made their way over to Ellensburg to start working with Joel Conner. They are both doing well and I checked in with Joel this week to see how the girls are doing. The plan is to give Lacey 90 days of professional training and let Jessel winter over with Joel. He’s going to lightly start her under saddle and keep her exposed to professional, consistent handling to ensure she is learning the best manners possible.

Here is what Joel had to say about the two girls:

JWOW (aka Jessel) is doing really good she’s been wonderful to saddle and ride. She is acting a little bit bothered by the road behind her so we’re getting her over that.  Also she is learning how to move away from you when she’s tied up and not kick.

Ol Snooki (aka Lacey) is getting better every day. She is learning how to stay on the wall and walk trot lope.  We are also working with her on making sure that she doesn’t kick when she’s tied up.  We’re working with her with the rope and the mighty fart noise!”

So a little explanation might be needed here…Joel always comes up with nicknames for the horses and this time we just had to share! Snooki and JWOW are quite a pair and the names are just as fun as these two young mares! Also the “mighty fart noise” is something interesting that we found out about Lacey when we started to work with her here at SAFE. She absolutely hates it if you make a kiss sound or “fart noise”. She becomes quite agitated, tossing her head and overreacting! We work on getting her used to it here but Joel is still having to work on getting her to relax about. It.s pretty funny but also a bit puzzling…why would she react to a noise this way but be okay with a tarp hanging off her back? Silly ponies! Sometimes you have to just scratch your head, smile, and tell her she’s going to be alright and a noise will not hurt her.

Both of these horses were my training projects while they were here at SAFE and I grew to love their personalities. They both have a very sweet side but before we could see that sweet side, they needed to learn to respect their handler. I am very excited to see the work Joel is doing with them and thrilled to have such good report cards coming in. I miss seeing them at the barn but know this is an important time in their lives and trust Joel’s skills 100%. It is amazing to be able to work with such a gifted and heartfelt trainer, I know the girls are going to turnout to be wonderful riding horses!

Here are some photos of them at Joel’s:


Saddling Session at the Joel Conner Clinic

Sunday morning, three young redheads were saddled up and worked in the roundpen at the start of the clinic. This included Jessel (who met the saddle for the first time at yesterday’s clinic), Sophie, and Lacey. Here are photos from this session:

Introducing the saddle to Jessel

Jessel is still too young to be started (she turns 3 in April) but it’s not too soon to introduce her to the saddle and get her accustomed to carrying it on her back. Joel Conner worked with Jessel during the morning Groundwork session at the clinic, and then saddled her up for the very first time. She looks pretty good in Western gear, doesn’t she?

Jessel Medical Update

On February 5th, Jessel sustained a skull fracture while she and Tess were playing in turnout. Radiographs were taken and determined that the fracture was about 2 1/2” long and had slightly dislodged the bone in her face. She was prescribed antibiotics, pain medication and stall rest, and given a good prognosis for full recovery–albeit with a bit of an odd looking face. Healing went well until about the end of March when she suddenly started showing signs of being in pain and she was tilting her head.

Dr. McCracken was called, and radiographs showed that the fracture itself was healing, but there was a sequestrum (a piece of dead bone tissue occurring within a diseased or injured bone) that was causing pain at the fracture site. We were given two options: A) wait and see if the bone either resorbed or pushed itself out on its own, or B) go in surgically to remove it. Dr. McCracken’s recommendation was to remove it surgically since it appeared to be painful.

On April 6th, surgery was performed and 3 bone chips were removed from Jessel’s face. It was clear that at least the largest of the 3 chips would not have resorbed on its own, evidence that surgery was the right decision. Surgical recovery went well, the sutures have been removed, and Jessel has healed great. We will soon have an update from Dr. McCracken on when she can get the all-clear and head out to foster.

Jessel Liberty Work

Getting to know Jessel

Jessel_01-01-2015Well color me impressed! Jessel had her first health check up with Dr. McCracken and she was a superstar. She was a little shocked by the first vaccine but it only got better with the others. We will be giving her more boosters in a few weeks but at least she won’t need a dental exam until closer to when she is started under saddle. She has gained a good amount of weight and is very playful and happy.

We have started to lightly ground work Jessel and are training her to be good to lead, not crowd one’s space and be comfortable having her feet picked. This will take some time to master but she is very smart and learning quickly. She is a little “pushy” on her right side so we are leading and working her from that side to get her used to people on both sides.

Jessel’s personality is inquisitive and brave with an underlying sweetness. It looks like she will mature to just under 15 hands and that she will be a pretty little mover. She still needs exposure to new things and to learn that humans can be her leaders. Our biggest challenge will be in a few weeks when we have to separate her from Bean. Hopefully, our relationship with her will be good enough to comfort her and Bean during that process.


Jessel’s Ten Friends:

1. Laurie R.

2. Pat R.

3. _____________________

4. _____________________

5. _____________________

6. _____________________

7. _____________________

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 Jessel!