registered name: Playing to the Music (AQHA)
description: 1997 chestnut Quarter Horse mare
type of rescue: owner surrender
intake date: 6/26/2012
adoption date: 6/19/2014
length of time with SAFE: 2 years
ADOPTED by Susan R of Duvall WA
Kat was surrendered to SAFE by her owner, who could no longer care for a horse due to failing health and financial difficulties. Recognizing that her mare was losing weight and badly in need of dental and farrier care, she made the difficult decision to ask for help. Fortunately the timing was right and we had space available to take her in. Her previous owner told us that Kat has had quite a bit of training and that she goes well under saddle and is trained mostly to seat and leg aids. We took Kat to the 2012 SAFE show and competed in several disciplines, including Western Dressage, Trot Poles, and Mounted Trails. During her time at SAFE, Kat was a favorite of several volunteer riders, and she got plenty of work and exercise during her time in our program. Kat was adopted by a SAFE volunteer who met her and fell in love with her. Kat, now known as Clover, shares a large pasture with another Quarter Horse named Crimson. We wish Kat and Susan the very best together!!
We’ve said all along that Kat was a one‐woman horse. After all, Kat isn’t the type to give her heart away to just anyone. She’s not the sort of girl who has hundreds of casual acquaintances. But she is the sort who is a friend to the end, once she decides to let you into her inner circle. So it’s with great joy and celebration that we announce that Kat has finally found her person! That person is SAFE volunteer Susan Rich, who met Kat while helping out at Safe Harbor and fell in love with our feisty little redheaded mare. Susan is a recent transplant from Virginia who has moved to this area to be closer to family and to finally fulfill her dream of keeping horses at home. Kat will be sharing Susan’s farm with a Quarter Horse gelding named Crimson, who literally flew into town on Thursday to join her at their new home. Susan has been an incredibly dedicated owner to her beloved Crimson, and we are so happy to know that Kat has a home for life where she will always be adored and well cared for. Susan’s getting back into riding after a bit of a hiatus from the saddle, and Kat is the perfect pony to get her back onto the trails. The two of them have been working together under Terry’s guidance, and now that the adoption is finalized, trainer Laura McCorkell will be taking over to help Susan and Kat grow more comfortable with one another. Kat’s been a perfect angel in her lessons so far, and we expect that the two of them are in for a lot of fun this summer, exploring the trails near Susan’s new home. Of course it was sad to say ‘so long’ to Kat, who has been a SAFE horse for a long time…almost two years. But we are overjoyed to know that this terrific little horse has a wonderful and happy life ahead. It’s what we want for all our horses…we can care for them and love them, but they each deserve a home and person to call their own. This rescue is just a rest stop on a journey to a new and better life…so if you can offer a life to a horse who deserves one, please take a look at the individuals at SAFE who are waiting for 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.
Volunteer Sara E rode Kat on a trail ride this weekend along with Terry and Skittles. Sara was able to compare this ride with one she and Kat went on a year ago. Not only does Kat know Sara better now and trusts her, she is also clearly feeling much better in her own body and movement. She was great during the entire ride, even when riding along the road with cars passing and past the alpacas and barking dogs.
Here’s Sara’s report on the ride:
“This past weekend, I took Kat out on the trails for the first time this year. This was my second time doing a trail ride with her, the first being last year out at the watershed. Last year’s ride, while enjoyable, was also not an easy stroll in the park either. Kat was manageable but she was uptight during the ride and never really relaxed or enjoyed it. The ride felt like a military march, where she just wanted to get her job done and get home. Yesterday’s ride was like night and day compared to the ride last year. She was relaxed, easy going and so much fun.
We started out the ride in the middle, with Terry on Skittles leading. Kat matched their pace with a nice relaxed low head. The trail was challenging, with lot of big hills to go up and down and not the best footing. Kat took all of it without ever needing encouragement to keep going. At one point we ended up in the front and it was great, she didn’t care that the other horses were lagging behind. We had a nice fast walk, but she was on a loose rein with a low head and we were in our own little world. I think I’ll be smiling for days whenever I think about that ride, she was so good and it was nice to be able to relax and enjoy the woods, the weather and the other riders with out having to worry about the horse your riding.”
Kat, Skittles, and Lola went out for a walk today to see the alpacas, who live right down the street from Safe Harbor Stables. We’re located pretty close to the Tolt Pipeline trail, but to get to the trail, you have pass by the alpaca gauntlet. Some of the horses find this slightly terrifying, but today’s outing was a complete success. So cute!
Erica is a SAFE volunteer who rides Kat on a regular basis. She had this to say about her work with Kat:
I have now been riding Kat since December, and the most notable points for me have been her willingness to work, and her demeanor.
Kat hasn’t ever seemed particularly cuddly, but what I have noticed is that she is happy when we’re working. She likes to trot, and it feels like she really wants to move, even though we still restrict her from cantering with me riding. We’ve gotten to a point where her trot is quite forward, and she really powers herself well from the hind end. While lunging, she likes to canter, and seems to trip less and less.
Her demeanor really is positive while working, too. She responds well to positive reinforcement, and I notice her licking and snorting more and more! After working, she always looks forward to doing “carrot stretches,” and never pins her ears for that!
I truly enjoy working with Kat, and I feel like Terry is working extra hard with me and Kat, retraining us both! My sincere thanks to Terry and SAFE for giving me this opportunity to work with Kat and all the other horses!
I first met Kat when I first started volunteering with SAFE and was doing night feeding. Truthfully I wasn’t impressed, she was standoffish and a little food aggressive. She was never out right mean, but was not a cuddle bunny or tried to seek out your company. Over the last year of working with her and now riding her I have come to understand a little more about miss Kat. She puts up a hard front, but once she trusts you and you two start communicating she comes out of her shell. Now she will never be a snuggle girl, but she does seek me out when I’m around.
I started riding her twice a week for a couple of months and then got a job that took me away from riding her for about a month and a half. When I started riding her again, I could tell she was a little mad at me for not coming out. Really, her being mad at me was a great feeling to have, it meant she liked me enough to miss me when I was gone. Instead of being indifferent to whether I was the one riding or not. Since starting to ride her again I have noticed her become more and more open with me, she still gives me her ‘mad’ ears but now its more like an inside joke between us. Leading her is now more of a formality, since she mostly just follows me around when we are together. She is a one person horse, if I have ever seen one. She puts up with people, but she bonds with just one.
I think one of our biggest breakthroughs was about a month ago, when we really finally started to communicate with each other while under saddle. Kat likes to do well when riding, and she can easily get frustrated when she doesn’t understand what you want her to do. Once she figured out how I was trying to get her to do things, and I figured out how to get her to do what I wanted, we started working so much better together. The best relationships are built on good communication, and with Kat that is so very true.
Kat is an amazing little horse, shes got that good Quarter horse mind that thinks through things with out big blowups. She forward in her riding and yields to leg and seat ques and always tries to do what you want. She’s a little of a hard nut to crack, but when she starts to like you it makes you feel so good that the little standoffish mare only lets you give her hugs and kisses.
It’s been a while since we updated you on Kat. We’ve seen a definite improvement in her tendency to trip over her front feet, and we suspect that the addition of vegetable oil to her diet has helped with that. Volunteer Sara E has been working with Kat under saddle and after a great ride last night, Sara had this to say about the little redhead:
“Kat’s doing great! I think she likes the western saddle a lot, she’s not as cinchy when I tack her up and I think she likes the bit I use with her, no more head tossing. We are still working on her getting strong enough for the canter, but she has been doing super!”
We had a little dress up fun with Kat this last week and she looks amazing! Sara E., one of our fabulous volunteers, brought her western barrel saddle over to Safe Harbor for us to borrow. The western saddle is heavier than the English saddle that Kat had been using in the past and it has a rear cinch that prevents the back end of the saddle from rising up in working situations. I’m sure this isn’t the first rodeo for this cowgirl but she was absolutely un‐phased by the new accoutrement. Now Kat won’t be cow penning any time soon but the western saddle maybe nice for some trail rides. Truth be told, she is a quarter horse…and we all wanted to see how good she looked in the standard western getup!
As earlier post have stated, Kat has not been training this summer due to some tripping issues while under saddle. We are just taking it easy till we know more about her situation. But, she is still getting plenty of attention here at the Safe Harbor Stables. She is groomed on a regular basis and enjoys some light lunging along with turnout aside her friend Lola which are all keeping her moving and happy. Kat is a very steady mare, always likes other horses and is probably hands down the cleanest horse at the stables! She is a little shy at times when we catching her from the field, but she quickly understands our purpose and lets us halter her without resistance.
We’ll keep you posted to developments on getting her back to work. In the meantime, if you have a western saddle that is just laying around…think about donating it to SAFE. We would love to have one or two on hand to ride some of the horses.
Over the past month or so, we’ve been noticing that Kat has been tripping more and more, both under saddle and even when being led. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve decided to pull her out of training with Brittney until we can have a vet examine her and possibly do a neurological exam. Our attempts to treat this problem through shoeing have not yielded much change. We’ll have updates on Kat’s situation when we know more.
Miah took a big step today with her first ever trail ride as a SAFE horse — possibly the first of her life — and she did great!! It’s only just recently that she’s gotten to a point where she was ready to hit the trails, and she was a very good girl. To be fair, she did snort for the entire two hour trip, but she was also very brave, crossing bridges and dealing with a lot of new stimulation. The only thing that bothered her were the bicycles, but by the end of the ride, she was even dealing with them with bravery. Brittney, who loves riding at the Redmond Watershed, was really impressed with the kindess of the people that they encountered out on the trails, especially the bike rider who took time to assure Miah that he was not a predator.
Brittney rode Kat, who had a good day on the trails, and Miah was ridden by her regular volunteer rider, Casey. Brittney tells us that Casey and Miah are doing great together, and that Casey has been pretty successful in getting Miah to relax and listen under saddle. So thank you, Casey, for putting in time to help Miah along! We really appreciate the work that you’re doing with her!!
Here’s video from today’s ride:
Chance went for his first trail ride as a SAFE horse today, accompanied by Kat. Chance has a lot of experience as a trail horse but it’s been a little while since he’s been out in the woods, so he started his journey into the Redmond Watershed by doing a fair amount of jigging, but after about 5 minutes, he settled down and started walking in a relaxed manner and kept his cool for the rest of the ride. The trails at Redmond Watershed have bridges that cross the creek in several places, and Chance was completely unfazed by these, crossing every single bridge without concern. He displayed the same bravery towards the various park benches, gravel piles, and fallen logs that he passed. Kat, on the other hand, had a few moments of over‐reaction to some of these harmless obstacles, but once she saw that Chance was unimpressed with her antics, she too settled down and took everything in stride. All in all it was a successful day for both horses.
On the ride, I had the opportunity to ask Brittney how Chance has been doing in his training rides, and she says she’s been enjoying riding him so far. He does have a pretty bouncy trot, but she says that as he’s been regaining fitness, his trot has gotten easier to sit. His canter is still a bit of an adventure to ride, but it’s coming along pretty well too. He’s well‐behaved under saddle, and does a pretty good job focusing on his work.
As we’ve mentioned before, Chance has a pretty severe case of ear plaque which makes it pretty painful to have his ears touched, and he’s gets pretty worried that someone is going to forget. Brittney deals with this by unbuckling most of his bridle so she can put it on without having to touch his ears. She was a little worried about doing this at the trailhead, but he was a good boy about it so it wasn’t really a problem. He’s a really sweet horse who doesn’t ask for much, so we try to accomodate this quirk of his in a positive manner.
Here’s a quick video from the trail ride, with delightful narration from Brittney:
Lucky and Kat enjoyed a trail ride today at the Redmond Watershed. Lucky might not have been out on the trails before, but he handled the 2 hour ride like a pro. Brittney shot this video while riding him on a completely loose rein.
Lucky and Kat crossed at least 6 different bridges and took turns leading the way. Lucky was a good boy who did not balk at one bridge, but did look at a few fallen logs with a skeptical eye, but Brittney had him on the buckle for a majority of the ride.
Kat under saddle with volunteer rider Casey:
Kat is such a treasure!
Kat has been in regular work for just over a month and so far she is a very steady and level headed mare at the walk and trot. She was ridden by one of our novice riders at the SAFE show and did great! Her canter work has proven to be a bit of a challenge as she does not seem very confident in her ability to balance at the canter. Our trainer, Heather, is working her in the round pen where she can work on cantering without the burden of balancing a rider or the the ability to lean against a lunge line. We’re confident that she will come around soon.
We were able to bring Kat to the SAFE show, and thanks to Chelsey Braswell, Kat got to experience so many wonderful things! Kat surprised us all with her willingness, bravery and ability! Here’s a full report from Chelsey:
Oh my goodness, Kat was a superstar. I cannot express how proud I am of her, we have only been riding her for 2–3 weeks, personally, I rode her one time before we went to the show. She really shined on western day, first thing we entered was Halter Rescue horse, and took 5th, she really squares up beautifully. Then we saddled up and entered the Walk/Jog (for the life of me I cannot remember if we were in Rescue or 18–29, hmph) but her cutest little jog got us a 5th place. We mosied on over to the mounted trails after that, just went for it. She was absolutely fearless, until we got to the noodles. But from what I hear no one got through the noodles haha. She ace’d everything else, over the pole no problem, the bridge she didn’t even blink. She did dance around the noodles, I brought her back around 3 times but after that I figured I didn’t want to scar her for life so we moved on, she did really well. We took first for mounted trails.
After that we had a couple hours for a break and a rinse, we tried out Western Dressage, since we missed the sign up for Saturday’s tests. She was amazing! She gets so excited that she gets a pretty quick jog going but just talk to her and she smooths out quite nicely, I am still trying to figure out the best rein position for her, so we were a little wobbly heading down center line, but everything else was fantastic! And she got a 5th place!
Then it was time for the costume contest. I found a Pocahontus costume at party city just looking for ideas (FOR $5!) and it just went from there, I decided it was perfect for Kat, being a Quarter Horse. My family and I really enjoyed dressing her up, because she just really seemed to love the attention, we tied some bright colored feathers in her mane and tail, and painted hand prints and designs all over her, making her the cutest Pocahontus’ War Pony you would ever see! We took second for the crowd pleaser award.
So finally we were done for the day and she had a much needed bath. I must add, this dramatically improved over the course of the weekend. She probably had 4–5 baths, the first one was a bit scary for her as she really was NOT about to get into the wash rack if she had anything to say about it, but by Sunday night, she completely unphased and just stood there soaking up the suds and water. And of course she loved her evening graze in the sunlight to dry off each time, might have helped.
Kat and I tried a few new things on Sunday, including Trot poles, which I failed. I lost track of the course and well, we were disqualified, but Kat was great. She hesitated over the first pole, but then glided over the rest of them like she was on a mission to finish.
Walk/Trot was fun, she is very good about transitions and steering (mostly with your body and legs, reining greatly improved over the weekend!) she was just too cute, and a little too fast.
From there we did the in‐hand trails and flew through everything like she’d done it a million times before, even through the noodles this time! We took 4th place, and called it a day. It was so hot, and she worked SO hard the whole weekend, it was time to let her be done.
I cannot express how proud I am of our ponies, every one of our adoptable horses took home ribbons, it was really a great weekend!
We have a wonderful photo gallery of Kat at the SAFE show, thanks to Chelsey and her family!