COLOR: buckskin MARKINGS:     
YOB: 2019 AGE: 3 yrs old HEIGHT:  WEIGHT: 625 lbs
LOCATION: Redmond, WA ADOPTION FEE: TBD Online Adoption Application  

Otto arrived in early December 2021 a few days after his herd mate, Cramer. The two horses were part of a three horse Animal Control seizure. Otto arrived at SAFE in desperate need of some groceries, covered in lice and suffering from a severe tooth infection. Thankfully, Otto made a full recovery, and has transformed into a shiny healthy buckskin gelding. He now spends his time in a large paddock with his bestest friend Cramer, along with Montana and Artie. At feeding time you will always catch Otto sharing a hay box with Cramer. Cramer takes a bite from the hay net, while Otto cleans up what drops onto the ground. 

Otto is regularly worked in our horsemanship program and has even been sporting a saddle! He’s on his way to eventually becoming a riding horse!

Otto Enjoying Summer

Otto Enjoying Summer

Sunshine, soft, fluffy dirt and playing with friends are the best reasons to lay down for a nap…everyday…several times a day. It’s usually the position Otto is in when our volunteer photographer visits the property. (Thanks Kristina!) He can’t be bothered to get up unless it’s to blow kisses.

Otto spends his days and evenings sharing a paddock with his bestest friend in the whole world, Cramer. Along with Montana, Artie and George. After sharing a morning hay box with Cramer, the five enjoy a little grass turnout time. A few times a week Otto is enrolled in groundwork training where he has now learned to carry a saddle!

Training Update: Otto on the Fence

Training Update: Otto on the Fence

As part of a well-rounded education, our horses are put through paces that include more than just learning to wear a saddle. A class they must take and pass is learning to bump up to the rail. This serves several purposes, including but not limited to: learning to pick a rider up off the fence (not all of us can mount from the ground!), getting used to someone up above them, and learning to be ok with stimuli (like flags or a rope) in their blind spot. In the video below, you can see Otto on his way to ace the course.

Otto Under Saddle

Otto Under Saddle

This month was the first time Otto saw a saddle (or rather, the first time he wore one – technically he’d probably seen one before then). First saddlings are always interesting. We do our best to prepare the horse before we cinch them up for the first time. Touching them all over with the flag, placing saddle pads on their backs, throwing the rope around their middles, all exercises to help simulate the types of things they will undergo when they wear a saddle. But even with the best preparation, the saddle is still a completely different experience. The saddle is constant pressure that the horse must learn to deal with – aided by support from us. 

Many horses, when first saddled, will react to the first few (or even beyond the first few) saddlings. They are worried about the stirrups, about the various dangly bits on the saddle, about having something attached to their back. So we expected some reaction from Otto. But when that cinch was pulled snug, Otto just walked off, cool as a cucumber. Granted, he had the great support of Joel, but even still, his reaction (or lack thereof) was quite impressive. This was not a one off – Otto proved to be level headed with each subsequent saddling. The first time with a rider on his back he handled with the same mellowness. Not to say there weren’t still some spots where Otto got bothered, but overall, he was not reactive. This boy has a good (not to mention very cute!) head on his shoulders, and we are excited to continue our work with him. 

Otto’s Origins

Otto’s Origins

Otto arrived at SAFE the very definition of a ragamuffin, with a scruffy, mud-caked winter coat draped atop his thin frame. We looked forward to seeing what health would do for Otto. 

It brought out his personality, for starters. Even when on the mend from his tooth extraction, Otto remained a rambunctious and playful gelding. It also revealed some mysteries about his past.

During a vet visit, when Otto would be sedated to have his oral cavity repacked, we took the opportunity to microchip him (we try to coordinate microchipping with times when the horse is sedated for their comfort). Before chipping, we always scan to check that a chip does not already exist. Nine times out of ten, we find nothing. Otto was the exception. 

It was quite shocking when the chip reader scanned a number in Otto’s neck, even more shocking given that Cramer, the counterpart he arrived with, was not chipped. So there was a mystery afoot. 

As this was all happening, Otto had begun to shed his winter coat. His hair when clean was a light buckskin, which he was losing in great uneven swatches. But his undercoat was much darker, a caramel color, something akin to a perfectly toasted marshmallow. This shift in color was another unexpected surprise. 

And then, one afternoon, a patch on his neck drew attention – there were white hairs peeking through his patchy fuzz. “Could it be?” we asked, and it was:

A brand. Given by the BLM. Which explained where the microchip came from. With a pair of clippers, we further excavated the symbols that would give us an idea of who Otto was before he was Otto. 

We discovered he was from Nevada, from a herd management area called Red Rock, around 20 miles west of Las Vegas. With the assistance of the BLM and a very helpful woman who lives in the area and documents the wildlife there, we were able to obtain information about Otto’s past, as well as some photographs!


Born in March of 2019, Otto was rounded up in February 2020 as part of the Sacramento TIP challenge. This is the same time that Otto and Frosting came to know one another, as they were adopted together. Once thought to be siblings, we have since determined that the two were merely thought to be such due to their similar appearance and origins. 

At only three, Otto has already traveled more than some horses (or people, for that matter) do in their entire lives. But we are oh so glad that this little desert-born boy found his way to us. His past may still hold mysteries, but we are excited to be able to set up his future to be as clear and bright as possible. 

Two Men and A Baby

Two Men and A Baby

I’ll admit, the title is a bit misleading. But to see new herd-mates Nyx, Montana, and Otto out together, I think it would quickly become apparent to anyone who are the men and who is the baby. A brief description of the herd has –

Nyx starring as the benevolent leader of the pack, a gentle giant not only in appearance but also in mannerisms. His signature display of dominance involves floating a hind leg up in warning, rarely if ever following through with a half-hearted kick that never lands. 

Montana cast as a (mostly) stoic member of the band who often spends his time sidled up to the fence line that adjoins the filly’s paddock. He has been known to participate in a romp or two with Otto, but is just as comfortable lounging around with Nyx. 


Otto, rising star. It is hard not to look at Otto and not be reminded of your little brother or mischievous younger cousin. Most of the time, Otto would rather run and play than eat breakfast – often he can be found nipping at Nyx’s heels or tail in an attempt to draw his large friend away from the food (it has not worked yet). When Nyx won’t play, Otto tries his luck with Montana, and often is able to rouse a bit more interest from his paint companion. 

These three boys were fast friends, and it’s clear that they really enjoy each other’s company. Often, all three can be spotted eating from the same hay net (Nyx and Montana usually work on the net itself, while Otto finds vacuuming up the fallen scraps to be more his speed), and they have been known to take communal naps together on occasion. It is truly a pleasure to watch the three of them, as their personalities mesh so well together despite being so different, and it’s clear that they all have something to learn from each other.


Trim Time for Otto

Trim Time for Otto

Last time our farrier was out, Otto successfully had all four of his feet trimmed. It is such a pleasure to watch this young man as he sheds out and grows up, the latter of which includes a vast difference between his first trim and this, his most recent one. Learning to stand and be patient for the farrier can be a big ask, especially when you’re not used to having your feet handled, but prep-work makes such a thing more and more manageable until eventually it becomes a non-issue. And when you’re a smart guy like Otto, that day seems to be arriving sooner rather than later.

The Tooth Fairy Visits Otto

The Tooth Fairy Visits Otto

Though his follow-up appointment wasn’t for another month, a few days after he returned from his check-in with Dr. Hanson, Otto decided he was ready to go back. His now characteristic bump was appearing noticeably larger, and after a call to the vet, it was decided that it would be a good idea for him to be seen again. So back up to Mt. Vernon he went.

(A brief sidebar here: we are so grateful for volunteer and driving master Jackie L, who volunteered both times to trailer Otto the three hour round-trip to the vet.)

Thanks, Jackie!


In Redmond, we waited for updates. 

The tooth fairy was smiling down on Otto, for when Dr. Hanson called, it was with the news that he was able to successfully extract Otto’s infected tooth from the inside – the best possible scenario. It meant recovery would be much easier, since there was not a need to open a hole in the side of his face to extract the tooth. Otto spent a few days at the clinic while Dr. Hanson evaluated the best packing for his cavity. We scheduled weeks of follow-up visits with Dr. Renner at Rainland to re-pack the area and ensure the healing process was coming along smoothly. 

Otto was seen three times for re-packs and checks, each time more healed than the last. He was to remain on the same course of antibiotics he was receiving until the cavity filled in at least 50% with granulation tissue. At his third check, Dr. Renner told us that the cavity was becoming more difficult to repack since it was closing up. Because of this, there was a good chance that the packing would not stay in as it once did, which would leave the cavity open to getting hay stuck in it. As this would inhibit his healing process, Otto temporarily switched to an all-senior grain diet – something he didn’t seem to mind at all! 

At his latest check, Dr. Renner declared Otto all healed up! He was cleared to come off of the antibiotics, and was given the go ahead to start eating hay again. Going forward, Otto will need dental checks every 6 months to ensure that his other teeth are doing well as he continues to mature. And though it has gotten smaller, the bump on his face will probably remain in some capacity for the rest of his life – not only a reminder of what he overcame, but a perfect indicator of where best to place a kiss.

Update on Otto

Update on Otto

This little cutie is feeling much better after packing on a few more pounds! He has proven to be fairly even mannered and willing to try what is asked of him. Pretty much ground ties like a champ for grooming sessions unless its food time and then all the attention is getting to his yummy hay! He was a bit of a stinker to pick up his hooves but that is getting better with constancy.  

He had a dental recheck a few weeks ago to see when and how they can best manage the removal the broken teeth he had on arrival at SAFE and clean up the area damaged by the infection.

The white area bulging around the first tooth is the infected bone area. The white line running at the other end of the tooth is where the jaw bone ends and the tooth comes out through the gum line. You can see there is just a very small amount of tooth showing through the gum line at the time this image was taken. This is why it’s so difficult to get a hold of and we are waiting for it to erupt more through the gums.

Dr. Hanson evaluated Otto’s progress a few weeks ago. Some more teeth have ruptured and emerged out of the gum line. The ulcerations have all healed. The infected tooth still has not emerged enough to get a good handle on it for an in-mouth extraction. There is a tool that could screw into the tooth and help pull out but there is concern that the tooth may fall apart during this procedure. The third option is to open a hole on the side of his mouth and remove the tooth by pushing it from the top. The concern here is that these holes may not close up and there can be complications.

For now, we wait, give him more time to push the tooth into a better position for extraction, and for Otto to be healthier for general anesthesia. He will remain on the 8 SMZ and 8 metronidazole 2x/day indefinitely. He has been a champ for his antibiotics and happily continues to munch away at his hay and mashes without issue. 
Overall Dr. Hanson was impressed with Otto’s overall progress over the last month both in gaining weight, his appearance, and his pleasant disposition. We will follow up in one month with another recheck exam.
We are looking forward to his full recovery and in the months to come being able to really start working and teaching this little fellow more. Due to the neglect he has faced and malnourishment in his early years, it may take some time for him to fully recover. We will take things at his pace, but so far see a very bright and happy future for Otto!  
New Horses: Cramer and Otto

New Horses: Cramer and Otto

Cramer and Otto arrived last month, like many horses at SAFE, in rough shape. They were part of a 3 horse seizue by Snohomish Animal Control. Our herd count was pretty high at the time, so our friends at SAIN (Skagit Animals in Need) took the third horse.
Cramer is a huge guy, who is believed to have been used as a bucking horse in rodeos and is unhandled at 15 years old. The staff got right to work getting this big bay used to people with scratches in his favorite spot. They’ve also been working on getting Cramer up to a healthier weight and he’s already looking better.
A few days later, Otto arrived. Cramer was excited to see his familiar face after being alone in our quarantine paddock. Otto is only 3 years old and is in need of a ton of groceries and will be on antibiotics twice a day for a dental infection. As you can see in the photos, there is a bump on his nose. This is the site of a broken tooth which happened when one of his adult teeth ruptured through and broke the baby tooth in place. Now, with infection making its way into the bone, this is a horrific situation. There was discharge from the right nostril, a foul odor, and could abscess through the sinus passage. The vet said this might be a good sign and help the surgeon. We are hopeful after putting on some pounds he will be strong enough to have surgery with the NW Veterinarian Clinic in Mount Vernon. This little man’s journey is just beginning, but he is in the right place now!

















Otto’s Friends:

1. Bear C.

2. Julie H.

3. Carrie S.

4. Whitney-Bear B.

5. Patricia A.

6. Brianna K.

7. Nancy P.

8. Kortney C.

9. Leigha M.

10.Christine M.

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 Otto!