breed: 1993 chestnut BLM mustang
type of rescue: King County Animal Control seizure
intake date: 4/5/2012
adoption date: 12/23/2015
length of time with SAFE: 2 years
Status: ADOPTED by Raven Rock Ranch of Redmond WA
Maggie was gathered out of Sand Springs East (NV0405) Herd Management Area on 07/11/1995
Maggie’s Story: Maggie is a BLM Mustang mare that came to SAFE from a situation of extreme neglect. When her health was returned, we found she was trained in all gaits, and even knew flying lead changes. Maggie was adopted two times, and both times was returned to SAFE through no fault of her own. The third time was the charm for Miss Maggie. She was adopted by Raven Rock Ranch, which pairs horses with at-risk youth in order to transform them both in a bond of trust leading to mental and physical recovery. Maggie now works as an equine counselor, a vocation that makes great use of her giving and generous nature with children.
For SAFE horse Maggie, the road to her forever home has been a long one.
This mustang pony mare was gathered out of a Nevada BLM roundup in 1995, so by our estimation she’s about 22 years old. We know very little about her life before coming to SAFE but there’s pretty clear evidence that she was not always treated well. She was seized by animal control due to neglect, but we’ve seen signs of physical abuse as well, possibly at the hands of a farrier. Maggie was initially adopted to a young girl who rode her over fences, but sadly the adoption did not work out. When Maggie returned to SAFE, she was very scared and nervous around people she didn’t know. Terry began slow but consistent horsemanship training with her, and was able to restore her trust and confidence. Along the way, the two formed a close bond. “I have to be honest,” Terry remarks, “I love this horse very much. I tried to describe it to someone and all I could think of was to call her my heart horse because of the bond I have with her. I don’t know if it is just her story, the heartbreak of being returned to SAFE or the trust she has given to me but it is something that I can’t adequately put into words. I have thought about adopting her myself so I can watch over and be part of her herd for the rest of her life. The only thing that stopped me is knowing that I would not be able to give her the time she deserves since I am so busy here at SAFE.”
After giving much thought to a perfect situation for Maggie, Terry had an idea and reached out to Sandy and Tim Matts at Raven Rock Ranch. Located in Woodinville, Raven Rock Ranch is a nonprofit equine assisted therapy center that pairs formerly neglected horses with at-risk youth. At Raven Rock, the instructors, volunteers, and the horses work together to transform the kids in ways that are both physical and mental. Suspecting that Maggie would make a wonderful therapy horse, Terry invited the Matts over to meet her. Raven Rock had recently lost one of their most beloved mares, and there was a hole there that Maggie might be able to fill. Sandy Matts immediately saw the potential for healing that Terry saw in Maggie. They decided to take Maggie on trial. Not longer after, Sandy wrote to us, saying “I was particularly touched by her willingness to trust when she has been betrayed so many times. I think horses represent forgiveness more than any other animal.” When she let us know they would like to move forward to adopting her, we were all delighted and comforted knowing that the best home had been found for Maggie.
Sandy emailed us last week: “She has acclimated very well. She comes alive when she is with children — so sweet! She really trusts them and is only cautious when she is meeting a new adult. I have ridden her twice on the trail. She is not accustomed to these trails enough for me to allow a child to take her out there, but she is wonderful in the arena or round pen. I will just continue taking her out so that she has plenty of time to get used to the new area.
“We have fully committed ourselves to her. Raven Rock is her forever home. Ruby (Maggie’s new name) is so kind and patient with our children and has settled in well with her herd mate, Ruthie, our new Fjord. They are very well bonded. Ruby is the leader (I bet you knew that). I will send updates, and anyone can come visit whenever they need a hug.”
We all wish Ruby, aka Maggie, the happiest of lives and joy in her work with the kids. Her life is complete with a family and community to love and honor her for many years to come. SAFE looks forward to hearing how she is doing, going to visit and get much needed pony hugs!
We had a great time hosting Joel again at Safe Harbor. The horses and volunteers had an amazing weekend and everyone progressed in their feel and training. Here are a few accounts from the volunteer participants about what they learned about the horses they were working with during the clinic:
Jolene D:Khianna– At the time of the clinic Khianna had a total of 4 or 5 rides on her since her return from foster. She was nervous, but did so well! She tries so hard. She is coming along nicely and I believe will develop into an incredible partner for someone.
Sara E: Jewel – Jewel was an all-star for the clinic, Claire has done such a great job with her. She felt flawless going from hind-end to front-end turns. I learned so much while riding her during the clinic. She is going to make someone a really great horse.
Sara E: Khianna – Did ground work with Khianna and at the beginning she was a nervous trotting mess, but Joel came over and helped me get her front feet moving and she calmed right down. She is so loving and tries so hard. Once she figures out you aren’t going to eat her, she just wants to please you and be loved on, I don’t know if I have ever worked with a horse that tries to give you 150% all the time.
Lisa G: Ben– I can’t say enough about how the horsemanship that Joel has helped bring to SAFE amazes me. I had Ben in all 4 sessions, GW and riding, and I was honestly just hoping I could get him to stay focused on me with all of the excitement, maybe get some nice serpentines down in the riding portion, and work on soft feel and stopping/moving forward off of the seat. Well….. He did all of those things and SO MUCH MORE. Every exercise that Joel moved the participants through, beginning to advanced, Ben tried. And SUCCEEDED, at least on some level. I am so impressed with the effort this big guy puts into everything; as long as he understands that there are no consequences if he doesn’t understand, and he knows that I will wait for him to figure it out, I believe this horse would be willing to try anything under the sun. In the few days since the clinic, Ben had maintained a quiet, willing attitude, with TONS of deep, relaxed sighs, even during the riding work. SO proud of the progress he has made and so grateful that this work was brought to the SAFE horses.
Sara S: Khianna– I worked with Khianna for the first time doing GW on Saturday morning, and was so impressed by her “try”. She does get a little nervous about the rope and flag coming at her while moving (though not at all while standing still in the comfort of the “herd” (me)). I particularly enjoyed the backing exercises, and she was so in tune with my feet and body language it felt like we were dancing partners! She is such a sweet girl.
Sara S: Phoenix– I did GW and rode Phoenix on Saturday afternoon. He hadn’t been ridden in weeks, and it was raining on the tin roof, so he was extra “special” to start, but after just a bit of GW he calmed down and started paying attention to me. Riding, he was great. He’s getting very good at backing circles, front and hind yields (he’s so bendy!). Over the few months I’ve been working with Phoenix, I’ve noticed he tries very hard to anticipate what I want (if he’s in the mood), but as soon as I push too hard and/or he doesn’t understand what I’m asking, he shuts down. On Saturday, I didn’t feel him shut down at all which is probably a combination of both of us getting better at this!
And many thanks again to Joel and Terry for putting on such an inspiring clinic!!! I wish I could come out to SAFE every day, but I’m glad to be even a small part of this great community and cherish this opportunity!
Claire C: Mesquite– It was my first official time working with Mesquite, and I think we made some really good changes. He is super sensitive so it was interesting to experiment with him and see how much pressure he needed. I only did the groundwork session with him and it was fun learning to time up with his feet better.
Claire C: Phoenix– For the afternoon session, I rode Phoenix, who I have not done a whole lot with either. He was also good; we worked a lot on more forward motion and keeping him focused on what I was asking. We did lots of bending and yielding, which was so good for him. Overall, he did very well.
Casey A: Stella– I worked with Stella, who is turning out to be a great little horse. We worked on slowing down and developing balance on both the ground and under saddle. We were both so much lighter by the end of Sunday, and I know we got a big change in our partnership. She was so relaxed through the entire clinic, even when horses around her were nervous. She’s also pretty resilient and forgiving of my mistakes. She has taught me so much, and she is going to make someone really lucky!
Erika S: Maggie– I worked with Maggie for all 4 sessions, and she did fantastic! She’s such a smart, willing mare, and we connected early on. One idea that I heard this weekend was that eventually it will feel like your horse is reading your mind… Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s the truth! Maggie remained tuned in for everything we learned about, and worked in sync with me. It honestly helped me more than I think it helped her!
Ann A: Bridgit– Bridgit is a friendly girl and likes getting attention. She is a bit on the lazy side and I had some trouble getting the life up in her while doing circling exercises. She just wanted to come into the center and hang out with me. She made good progress under saddle in the afternoon sessions. She was learning how to pick up a soft feel at the walk by the end of the first day and we had some nice walk/trot transitions. She needs more work backing straight and in a circle both on the ground and under saddle. She also needs more work reaching with her front foot and disengaging her hindquarters under saddle. She felt much more balanced to me than she did when I rode her last summer.
Jane M: Oscar– As a relative novice to practicing Joel’s horsemanship skills, the greatest lesson I took away from GW and riding Oscar during this most recent Joel clinic is the impact GW has on riding. Yielding hindquarters, circling to achieve bend and balance, it all makes such a difference when aboard the horse. I’m able to apply lessons learned under Joel’s guidance to my regular riding lessons. It’s quite remarkable to me, and I look forward to Joel’s next visit and my next “aha” takeaway!
A few weeks ago, we received the unhappy news from Maggie’s adopters that they needed find a new home for her. This was by no means Maggie’s fault. She had fit in well at their farm, behaved like a perfect lady, and given them her trust. But they felt that their daughter did not bond with Maggie. So they requested our permission to find her a new home.
Out of concern for Maggie, we made the decision instead to bring her back to Safe Harbor. Maggie is a very sensitive, mare and trust has not always been easy for her. Thanks to the kind and patient work that was done with her after she returned to SAFE last spring, Maggie made terrific progress in learning to relax and trust. Once again, we felt the right thing for us to do was bring her back into the fold.
The bright side is that she was very well cared for during her stay with the adopters, and is healthy, sound, and happy. She also seems to still be very settled and relaxed. We are already working with her and riding without issue at the walk, trot, and canter.
Maggie still has — and may always have — a flight response if she feels trapped or afraid. Our goal is to help her trust and look for leadership from people. The work that we do with her is to find ways to increase her confidence and know that we are here to protect her. She nickers when I call her name and comes in from her field happy to see me.
Maggie is a wise mare. She easily adapts to herd situations and she’s willing to work. She’s very smart and has a kind heart. She is in great condition for her age and is sound with fluid movement. Her sensitive nature requires an adopter with experience reading horse behavior. She’s very safe on the ground, but like most horses, she can spook or get frightened when something alarming or sudden happens. I find her really fun to work with and I enjoy our training sessions. I also really love just hanging out with her. I have to say Maggie gives some of the best horse hugs at Safe Harbor!
It always makes us sad to hear that one of the SAFE alumni is looking for a new home. While it’s our intention that every adoption will last forever, we understand that situations change and sometimes horses have to be rehomed. We do ask that our adopters take responsibility for finding an acceptable new home with someone willing to sign and honor SAFE’s adoption contract, and most adopters are willing and able to comply with those terms. As you’ll hear us say time and time again, a well trained horse has the best chance of finding and keeping a good home, so when we get word that an adopted SAFE horse is being rehomed while exhibiting problem behavior under saddle…that’s a situation that makes us more than a little uncomfortable.
Such was the case with Maggie, our dear little redheaded Mustang pony who was adopted by a young girl in the Fall of 2013. What at first seemed like a match made in heaven had started to go south. Initially Maggie was getting weekly “tune up” rides from her trainer, keeping her at her best behavior for her young friend. But when that training situation changed, the young rider became Maggie’s sole trainer, and problems began to creep in. Maggie lost confidence and developed some bad habits like spooking and refusing jumps, which in turn made her rider lose confidence in her horse. When SAFE was called in to help, the girl was afraid to ride her pony, her new trainer had deemed Maggie unsuitable, and her parents were looking to rehome her. SAFE opted instead to bring Maggie back into our training program to get her back to the superstar pony she was when she was adopted and take responsibility for finding her a new adopter when she was ready.
Maggie started training as a SAFE horse again in early spring. With the help of Terry and volunteer trainer Laura M, Maggie began slowly to regain her confidence. Through patient horsemanship, Maggie started to relax and lose the tension she was holding throughout her body. “There is something truly endearing in this little mare’s eyes and soul,” Terry remarked. “It was a wonderful experience to take Maggie through this process. Watching the stress melt off of her and seeing the engagement and peace return to her eyes has been amazing.”
Maggie’s second chance came from a family living just outside of Portland Oregon. Megan and Josh were looking for a pony that their daughter Isabel could grow into. Terry spoke extensively on the phone with Megan, explaining Maggie’s sensitive nature, and happily she realized that this was a “horse family” that could work with Maggie and provide the thoughtful and patient training she needs to be successful. When they drove up to Woodinville to meet her, it was clear that they understood her and were more than willing to give her what she would need.
So in mid-May, Maggie went out on trial with her Megan, Josh, and Isabelle. We decided on a longer-than-usual trial period for Maggie, but it’s officially been 60 days since she left us, and all signs point to yes! Although it’s hard having to wait to announce an adoption, doing a trial does give us the opportunity to collect stories and updates to share. Megan has been keeping us well up to date with news about Maggie:
“Maggie is doing well. She and Tucker (their other pony) are quite bonded now. They share everything, including hay and grain! Which means Tucker is getting a bit fat, but he and my daughter just started lessons, so he’ll be getting more exercise now. Maggie loves to watch our comings and goings with interest. She nickers at me now when she sees me.
Maggie is proving to be a tough nut to crack, however. She still hasn’t let go of her trust issues. When I work with her, she’s agreeable, but still haven’t seen much true relaxation. But I’m determined to keep at it with her…I haven’t ridden her yet, but I’m okay with that. I’m not going to force her into something she’s not ready for.”
From another check in:
“Maggie update: the petite princess is settling in well. She is the boss of Tucker and that seems to suit the two of them just fine. Maggie watches our coming and going with great interest. I have been spending lots of time just grooming her and working on further desensitization. Today she actually approached me when I gabbed the halter — a first. She was really relaxed during our grooming session and lifted each hind foot for me before I even asked for them.
We took both ponies for a walk down the road about a mile. Me leading Maggie and Isabel riding Tucker. Both ponies were total rock stars. Maggie was interested in her surroundings but calm and walked politely on a loose lead. We even had a terrible run in with a woman in a truck with some serious road rage. (She seriously tried to kill us! She gunned her truck full speed at us and then slammed on the brakes next to us. She then called us all kinds of profanities before speeding off. It was so scary and unbelievable! It really upset Isabel and made her cry. Thank goodness for bombproof ponies!)
After the road rage incident, I was hugging Isabel trying to reassure her. (She was still on her pony.) I felt something warm and fuzzy behind me. It was Maggie. She pressed herself against me and wrapped her head around me in a hug! We stood like that for quite some time. She is such a sweet and intuitive mare. I think she was trying to tell me not to worry. 🙂 We feel so lucky to have her as part of our family.”
Here’s a report about her first farrier trim…we know Daphne Jones, who helped this mare with her farrier issues, will be happy to hear this one!):
“I am happy to report that Monday she was successfully trimmed by my farrier. Even after a two-week break, she let me walk right up to her, halter her and groom her with no issues. She was an angel while I cleaned all four feet. She even had each foot lifted and waiting for me. She was nervous with the farrier and pulled her back legs away a few times, but she clearly was looking to me for reassurance. My farrier is so good and patient. He just kept calmly working with her and before she knew it, we were done! Good girl Mags.”
At the end of May, Megan has her first ride:
“Wanted to share special news. Today I rode Maggie! She was such a good girl. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous getting on her. I mean, I never rode her before we brought her home. I never even actually saw her being ridden. LOL Just photos. I didn’t expect any naughtiness, but wasn’t sure what kind of ride she would be. But she’s been doing SO well in her ground work. I “drove” her around a bit before getting on. (i.e. walking beside her holding the reins and steering, stopping and backing as if I were riding. Which puzzled her at first, but then she got the hang of it.) And then I took the plunge and got on. I kept it short and simple. Just some walking and trotting around the yard. I was glad to find she has great steering, brakes and wasn’t overly sensitive. In fact, she was a bit on the lazy side, which is fine by me!”
Then this happy update:
“Wanted to share a new pic of Maggie. Isabel rode her for the first time tonight. Maggie is a great baby sitter. 🙂 They just walked around since my dressage saddle is obviously way too big for Isabel. But she grinned the whole time.”
Yesterday, the message that we’d been hoping for arrived in Terry’s email box:
“Wanted to let you know that we are ready to make Maggie’s adoption official. This weekend we took both ponies to the state park near us for our first off site trail ride. Maggie was completely awesome. She took everything in stride and was really good on the trails. She was more comfortable following Isabel on Tucker, but she also lead when I asked her to. Josh went with us and rode his mountain bike. By the end of the ride, Maggie was perfectly fine with him riding behind her, in front of her and even right next to her! She really is one smart little mare.
I feel like she and I have really turned a corner in our trust. She really seems happy here and nickers to me whenever I come outside. All Maggie needed was a confident leader to firmly, yet fairly, give her life structure. She’s so sweet and we all enjoy her very much.
So we want Maggie to be a permanent part of our lives. My only hope is that she stays healthy and sound for a long time yet, so we can continue to enjoy her.”
We are so pleased that Maggie has found a wonderful family to be a part of, and so grateful to them for treating her with the patience and kindness she deserves. Thank you for giving Maggie her second chance, and happy, happy trails!!
It was so delightful to have six former SAFE horses come out to compete at this year’s SAFE show. We love nothing more than seeing our old friends again, and nothing beats seeing them shine in the show ring! Thanks to these lovely photos by Karen Wegehenkel, you can share some of their stellar moments:
Strawberry Shortcake, also known as Maggie
Stella and Maggie were sailing high in the hunter arena! The pair took home 4th and 5th place ribbons in some very large classes, and were quite impressive together!
Miss Hot Too Belle of the Ball, also known as Bella or Opal
Bella and Lys competed in the English arena, winning ribbons in Halter, Walk Only, Walk Trot, and Walk Trot Canter! This pair has come a long way in the last year!
It was simply delightful to see Lucy again! She was an all-around horse at the show, competing in English, Western, and Trails with her adopter Diane. As you can see, Lucy is just as cute as ever!
When we heard that Jenny Lucianna would be bringing River to the show to perform their Musical Freestyle routine, we were not prepared for what a treat we were in store for. Their performance was magnificent to say the least, and it was awesome to see our boy shine on the dressage court in partnership with his new owner. We can’t wait to see more!
We were also treated to two incredible performances from Andrea Lucianna and Delilah, who demonstrated their prowess at First and Second Level. Then Delilah’s adopter Eileen took over the reins and rode her Intro Level test wearing a SAFE Show t-shirt! Spectators could not believe that this magnificent mare was a formerly neglected rescue horse, and we’re so pleased that we got the chance to share her story!
We don’t have any photos to share yet, but Nicole and Annie dropped in at the show on Sunday to compete in the Western ring. The pair won 2nd and 3rd place ribbons in the Walk/Jog classes, and looked lovely together!!
We’re so proud of all the SAFE horses who competed at the SAFE Show this year, but one of them in particular put in an especially impressive performance. Along with her young rider, Miss Kirann Gable, our Mustang pony mare Maggie was champion of both the Trot Poles and Cross Rails Hunter Divisions, took Seconds in both of her Dressage tests, scoring 70.5% at Intro C and 62.292 at Training 1, and won her In Hand Trails class against 16 other competitors. Maggie and Kirann were an unbeatable pair this weekend, and we are so proud of them both. Kirann worked very hard to get ready for this show, and with the help of trainer Brittney Stewart, was more than prepared to face the judges and perform well in a new venue.
If you’re looking for a proven show pony with pretty movement, very forward gaits, and a “been there done that” attitude, take a look at Maggie. She is small but mighty, and she can carry a confident child to victory in several different arenas! This little Mustang pony is truly a gem!
Thank you to Kirann, her family, and to Brittney for letting Maggie show everyone what she’s capable of!
Maggie at the 2013 SAFE Show
Champion, Clover Hunter Division
Champion, Lily Hunter Division
2nd place, Dressage, Intro Level Test C (score 70.5%)
3rd place, Dressage, Training Level Test 1 (score 62.292%)
1st place, Trails, In Hand, Open (against 16 other riders)
5th place, Trails, Mounted, Rider 13-17
These lovely photos were taken by photographer Karen Wegehenkel at SAFE Harbor Stables this past July.
We had a great time at last Sunday’s Open House with lots of folks stopping by to meet the horses and enjoy a grilled hot dog or two. SAFE supporter Margaret C took these gorgeous photographs and was kind enough to share them with us.
Kai’s first trail ride! His companion was the cute SAFE Maggie pony and volunteer rider, Kyrany. There was a busy running event taking place at the trail head with flags and banners hanging from the trees and tents, but both horses were great about it. They saw bikes, deer, lots of runners, and crossed numerous bridges. Kai had a few “Bambi on ice” startles (i.e., spooking in place) but since he was on the buckle, he gets a gold star for listening to Brittney’s seat! Super good boy taking in the busy day! Maggie was amazing, being relaxed and leading the way across some bridges that Kai was skeptical of. She would make such a good kid’s pony!
Brittney has been asking Maggie and her volunteer rider to do a lot of transitions in the warm-up to get her focused. She is getting better and better!
Our little Maggie is making great strides! Here is video of her first canter as a SAFE horse!
Training Update, Aug 28, 2012
Maggie was put into the training program in order to address some significant fears about allowing her hind legs to be touched or handled in any way. She has made great progress in this department and just yesterday was deemed “almost normal” by the farrier. We have also discovered that she has had some under saddle training. She had her first ride a few days ago and was a very good girl! So far we have only walked but she was obedient and well mannered the whole time. Our trainer, Heather, is looking forward to finding out exactly how much she knows.
Video Update, Sept 4, 2012
Last Thursday three lucky SAFE horses moved to their new foster home for the summer. Maggie and Tilly were sent over from NWESC and Moonshine came back from Fire Creek to enjoy life in a big grassy field with friends. The three of them seemed to hit it off quite well.
SAFE has two new horses to introduce to everyone. Maggie and Tilly have been in our possession since being seized by authorities due to severe neglect. We sent these two mares to NWESC right away as they were both dangerously underweight and needed round-the-clock vet care. They were covered in rainrot, loaded with parasites, and infested with lice. It took two months before they were strong enough to have their teeth floated, but now both girls are doing well, and we are getting ready to move them to a lovely foster home where they will enjoy sunshine and a nice pasture while they continue their rehabilitation.
Maggie and Tilly are Mustang/QH cross mares. Maggie is approx 18 years old and chestnut. Tilly is approx 15 and is a brown & white paint.