breed: 2011 bay Friesian cross mare
type of rescue: City of Lake Stevens Animal Control seizure
intake date: 3/27/2014
adoption date: 4/4/2015
length of time with SAFE: 1 year

ADOPTED by Sophia & Matt A of Arlington WA

Ruby was rescued in cooperation with law enforcement officials who discovered her on a local farm, hidden from view, starving, and pregnant. Two days after she was rescued, she gave birth to a filly and although every effort was made to save her, the foal passed away within hours of her birth. Ruby was treated for anemia and severe starvation, and for a while her survival was uncertain. But her will to live was strong, and throughout her recovery, her warm and affectionate personality shined through. Ruby grew strong and beautiful, and was adopted in 2015 to a wonderful family.

Alumni Update: Ruby is Getting Started!

Ruby is so beautiful all grown up and wearing a saddle! Sophia and Matt have her in training near Portland, Oregon with a very skilled and kind trainer named Nick Donohue. Ruby is in great hands and Sophia is looking forward to working along side her to become a great riding team!

Ruby: Home at last!


Matt and Sophia with Ruby

There are moments that make our hearts overflow…and announcing the adoption of a SAFE horse is definitely one of those moments! We are delighted to tell you that our sweet Ruby found her forever home! Just one year from the anniversary of her rescue and intake, Ruby headed off to her join her new family, Sophia and Matt, on their 20-acre farm in Arlington.

Ruby made a miraculous transformation during her time with SAFE, from a starving pregnant 3 year old filly into a beautiful, healthy, and vibrant mare. Early in her rehabilitation, we prayed that she would have the strength to recover from the horrible neglect she’d faced. At that point, she could barely stand on her own. She spent most of the first weeks resting and conserving her energy. Watching her recovery has been an amazing experience for so many of us here at SAFE. In a sense, Ruby is the reason we work so hard and try each day to do the best for the horses in our care.

When Sophia’s adoption application for Ruby arrived, my first reaction was literally goose bumps! Something about the comments on the application gave me a feeling that this person could be the perfect match for Ruby. Sophia wrote “We are dedicated to the health and happiness of our land and our animals. My husband and I are mature people — in our 40s — responsible and realistic about what we can (and cannot) take on. We expect to grow with not only Buddy [their current horse] but also with our second horse. They will become part of our small agrarian based family: good people, beautiful land and fabulous animals.” I quickly called Sophia to conduct our phone interview. It only took a few minutes of conversation with her before I realized that she and her husband were “the real deal.” We started the adoption process by scheduling an opportunity for Sophia, Matt, and their trainer Valerie to meet Ruby. They all loved her. Sophia and Matt had a very well thought out plan for Ruby’s future education, allowing her the time she’ll need to settle into her new life and physically mature before beginning her training as a riding horse.

The adoption was resoundingly approved, and soon Ruby was loaded into a trailer and on her way to their farm. Those of us who gathered to say goodbye shed some tears, but they were tears of joy at such a happy ending. Ruby settled in nicely at her new home and became fast friends with Buddy, their 11 year old quarter horse gelding. The first reports from Sophia were glowing: “Ruby is doing so well!” she told us. “She had a day or two of bewilderment. That dissipated as soon as she & Buddy got to be face-to-face in the pasture (we took introductions step-by-step). He watches over her and she follows him around like a puppy in love! They have shared a pasture the last two days and I catch them rubbing noses and sharing hay. Ruby is creating an aura of domesticity in the stable. Buddy is has a job — in part to protect her. He is happy. Ruby certainly deserves that kind of care, don’t you think?!”

Ruby’s happy story is a direct result of many hands working to give her the love and time she needed to heal. Our special thanks to Debi Shatos, SAFE past President and current Herd Health Manager, for all the time and dedication she gave to Ruby’s medical and physical needs. Thank you for the healing work of Dr. Hannah Mueller and her staff at Cedarbrook Veterinary Hospital for bringing Ruby through those very critical early weeks and supporting and loving her through the loss of her foal, Grace. We are blessed and forever thankful for the generosity of our donors who helped raise money to cover Ruby and Grace’s medical bills and Ruby’s rehabilitation costs. And last but far from least, we are so grateful for the love and friendship of Ruby’s foster mom Jackie, who gave this beautiful filly the space and peace she needed to make a complete recovery.

There are a few times in this life that any of us get to be part of something as special as Ruby’s story and I know she has touched so many of our hearts. Her rescue and survival is a true testament to our community support and the hard work of SAFE’s volunteers. Ruby’s will to live was always strong and throughout her recovery she was always been a wise soul who freely showed her love and affection for those helping nurse her back to health. It is because of that love and generosity  that Ruby is thriving today.

I am honored to have known her and to announce that Ruby is finally HOME!


Here is a gallery of photos of Ruby on her last day at SAFE, and in her new home. Enjoy!



August Training Notes

Phoenix: Going well under saddle with strengthening exercises in the walk including: shoulder fore, hauls, halt rein backs, and collected walk. He’s up to 7 minutes at the trot and continues to look sound. We’ve been working in some trot poles during the rides.

Skittles: Skittles is doing well with riding. She will have good days but others she is stiff and unhappy to use her back if I don’t give her a long warm-up

Jewel: Doing well at foster and looks to have filled out quite a bit this summer. She been turned out with Ruby and everything seems to be fine, the two are “cohabiting” well.

Lola: Lola continues to do well with both ground manners and riding. The canter has been our main focus this month and she is now consistently picking it up when asked and is learning to keep the gait for longer amounts of time. She is a bit grumpy about this at first but it is getting better. Some nice long canter moments have been happening. The key to improving this is achieving a true inside bend. This will take a bit of strength building but she is getting some lovely forward and soft canters now.

Kai: He does still have his moments of exuberant energy so I am continuing to work him in hand only. He is doing well over the trot poles and is stretching nicely. I have raised them up to keep them challenging and added polls to both sides of the arena. When he isn’t showing his nutty side, he is very lovely.

Sapphire: I saw Sapphire 3 weeks ago at Kim’s. She is looking happy and was sweet when I came to talk to her. Kim is lunging her and has some very loose side reins on her and she is doing well.

Oscar: He’s has three months off work, and he’ll have another three before we trot him again to evaluate soundness. Helga said she can trot him on the lunge for us to see if he is sound when the time is up.

Finn: While he remains sound with the work there is still a slight “offness” when traking to the left. I have to think this may always slightly be there but it is dramatically better than it was before the shoe package.

Cameo: Working on a nice balanced trot and feeling much stronger. Her left shoulder is still much more developed than the right due to the club foot. I have to use a pad with buildup of the right side so that the saddle sits level and on the middle of her, otherwise it will slide crooked the entire time.

Skye: Skye has been a really great girl this last month. So much that I used her as my riding demo for the Chamber of Commerce evening. She was great with the crowd and did a nice walk, trot, and canter for them. She is a beautiful girl and a lot of fun to ride! We continue to work on trailer loading and things are going well, all 4 feet into the trailer and quietly coming out.

Ruby: Doing well at foster. We’ve been talking about her growth and whether we should wait to start her until she has more time to grow. I think not putting too much weight and heavy rides on her are a good idea. If this is SAFE’s choice, I suggest since her personality can be a bit young, big and head strong, would be a great idea to start getting the basics on her and working towards saddling well before she has a rider.

Misty: (From Kellie:) Bottom line is that Misty has improved, but, not as much as I hoped.  She is better at bending left and taking weight on the left hind than she was before the stifle injections. Fewer missteps as well. However, she is still very stiff to start out, for about 15 minutes, and this is in addition to the lunging time.  Sometimes she gets a short lunge if she is not too silly and other times, she might be lunging 15 minutes. She has also improved from the donated chiro and the muscle relaxants.

As the chiro vet said, it is best to bring them back to full work/strength slowly with the stifles. My goal is to get Misty out 4–5 times a week again, like she was before her May “stiffnesses and swollen legs”, but still low key work.  Some riding, some lunging, and to start some trot poles.

I guess it was too much to hope that the stifle issue was going to be a “ quick fix.”  Since, it has probably been going on for awhile– just like a person with a similar problem—it is probably going to be a longer rehab period for her.

Lucky: Doing well WTC. The 7 doses of Pentosan have helped him look less stiff in the hind end. He shows no more hesitations going into the trot. He does fuss a little when first asked for the canter but the next transitions up are usually better. He still looks a little stiff when tracking to the right. Also he is pretty tender on his front feet so we’re looking at putting front shoes on.

Ruby — Before and After

Ruby is having a great summer living out in pasture at her foster home. Her foster mom, Jackie, calls Ruby a very sweet girl who is friendly, curious and loves attention. Jackie says she wishes she could let her in the house so they could watch chick flicks and snack on carrots together!

Check out Ruby’s amazing transformation since she was rescued in April:

Ruby Before:


Ruby Today:


June Training Notes

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!

We tend to put Skittles on a pedestal...

We tend to put Skittles on a pedestal…

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 and Terry at work in the arena

Skye and Terry at work in 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.

Happiness is for horses

Ruby was moved to her new foster home for the summer a few days ago. She and Jewel will be sharing Jackie’s lovely horse pasture for the next several months, soaking up the sun and enjoying life as only horses can. Here’s a video taken on the day of her arrival as she checks out her new surroundings:

And take a look at what a difference two months of good care can do for a starving horse:

Ruby before:

Ruby after:

Ruby Red

Ruby is a lucky horse who has an entire community behind her, pulling for her recovery! She got a visit today from one of her major benefactors, SAFE supporter Bernice S, who spent some time with our girl in the company of SAFE president Debi Shatos. Debi reports that Ruby’s outlook on life has definitely improved, and she has a sparkle in her eye that was not there last week. Turns out Ruby is a complete and total snuggle bug, who loves scratches and hugs. She wants to stand as close to you as possible at all times and will inch closer and closer if given the chance. One has to wonder how lonely it must have been for her to be shut away from view at her previous home.

Health-wise, Ruby seems to be improving, but she is far from being out of the woods. Her anemia has improved, but it’s not yet where we want to see it. She also has an elevated white blood count, which has Dr Mueller worried about infection, although right now, she’s not showing any signs of that. Her diarrhea is nearly cleared up and she’s consuming plenty of water now. Things are moving in the right direction, and we continue to feel optimistic that she will pull through.

But Ruby is still horribly, terribly thin. As you’ll see from these photos, she still has a long way to go to regain a normal body weight. She does have a surprisingly lovely coat of hair for a mare in her condition. She’s going to be stunning once she is healthy again.

So many people have stepped up and donated to the SAFE Veterinary Fund to help us with Ruby’s considerable medical bills. We’d like to thank everyone who has contributed — it means a great deal to us to know that so many hearts went out to this poor mare. We hope you all will have a chance to visit Ruby when she is finally able to come home to Safe Harbor Stables. It’s our hope that she’ll be released from the vet hospital in time for our Open House on May 25, but it’s probably too early to predict at this point. We’ll keep you posted!



Ruby’s Recovery

Ruby continues her slow recovery at NWESC, where she is getting hands-on care and attention following the birth, and passing, of her foal. She is definitely not out of the woods yet, but her condition has stabilized. Initial blood tests revealed that she was severely anemic with low proteins, which is not surprising considering her emaciated condition. Fortunately, her bloodwork is improving slowly and is now being checked every third day instead of daily. She is eating better, and her stool is starting to firm up although it’s not yet completely normal. Her demeanor is brighter and she’s taking much more of an interest in her surroundings. She really is the sweetest thing…She shows affection by resting her forehead against your chest and sighing. Dr Hannah is happy with the progress that this sweet mare is making, and we are cautiously optimistic that Ruby will be able to recover from the neglect she suffered.

These photos will give you some idea of how horrific Ruby’s neglect was…and sadly, photos can never truly convey how bad a starved horse looks in person. These images are hard to look at. Ruby was estimated to be a 1 out of 9 on the Henneke horse body condition scale, which means that she was close to death at the point when law enforcement officers discovered her. Add to that the fact that she was carrying a foal…and you can start to understand just how cruelly this mare was treated by her former owner.

Meanwhile, the continuing cost of Ruby’s recovery — on top of what was spent trying to save her foal — continues to grow, so we are asking our friends to please consider a making a gift today to help us with those costs. We have received an amazing offer from one of our favorite supporters who is willing to match donations for Ruby’s care up to $1,000. Your donation will be worth twice the dollar amount, so there has never been a better time to give to the SAFE Veterinary Fund than right now, today.

Yes, I will donate to the SAFE Vet Care Fund to help Ruby! CLICK HERE

If Ruby survives — and we are working hard to make sure she does — she is going to be a lovely mare. Someday soon, she will be transformed back into a beauty, full of health and life. Be part of that transformation by supporting her recovery with a donation.

We named her Grace

Many of our supporters have asked for more detail about what happened to Ruby’s foal. If you missed the beginning of the story, you can read it here.

Another busy Saturday night at NWESC had Dr. Hannah Mueller caring for her patients. She passed Ruby’s stall to see the mare standing quietly. When she passed by again after midnight, Ruby was laying down and the foal’s head had emerged. It was quite a surprise!

Grace, Rest in Peace

Grace, Rest in Peace

Ruby was too weak to effectively push the foal out, so Dr. Hannah had to help deliver her. When the foal arrived, she was barely breathing. Supplemental oxygen was given and the foal’s breathing stabilized. The foal’s initial attempts to stand were vigorous, but unsuccessful. Unfortunately, even if she had been successful there was no colostrum in Ruby’s udder. But still, she tried. Eventually, she tired and needed to rest.

Temperature regulation was a challenge for the baby. She was shivering and her lower legs were ice cold. Two heat lamps were added, along with multiple layers of blankets and sleeping bags. Dr. Mueller even crawled under the covers with her to share her own body heat. Snuggled up together, they passed a couple of hours until morning, when Pilchuck Equine Veterinary opened and some plasma could be obtained. Cedarbrook Veterinary Staff were called in on their day off, and gladly joined in the efforts to save the filly.

She was still making occasional attempts to stand, and had passed both urine and manure. It seemed that we had a viable foal. After it became clear that Ruby was showing no interest in the foal and keeping them together was not going to result in stimulating milk production, the decision was made to move the foal to a heated treatment room to help with her temperature regulation. She was still shivering uncontrollably. After an hour or so, the warm room seemed to help. All of her vital signs remained steady and normal. An IV catheter was placed in her neck for the administration of the plasma (when a foal is not able to receive colostrum from its mother, plasma is the lifesaving alternative.)

Since Ruby had no milk, small amounts of milk replacer were tube fed to the baby. Throughout the day, phone calls were made to Dr. Bryant at Pilchuck Equine, and we are thankful for his willingness to provide consultation with Dr. Hannah. He made sure we knew what to expect, what to watch for, and what to do next. During the plasma infusion, we worked to keep the foal relatively still so the IV catheter would stay in place. She could really flail those front legs and nearly took three people out with one vigorous swipe!

We started searching for a potential Nurse Mare, and were touched by the response from the equine community. Several options were available if the foal thrived. The plasma infusion was completed without incident, and we helped the foal to her feet. She would stand for small amounts of time, but only with a great deal of support from the people holding her up. As the hours ticked by, it seemed that she was not gaining strength or the ability to stand on her own. The milk replacer was not moving through her digestive system, and would occasionally dribble back out through her nostrils.

On our last attempt to move her to a sternal (chest) position, it became clear that she was no longer participating. She wasn’t holding the weight of her head, she wasn’t protesting with her long legs. She was done fighting. And we started thinking about letting her go. It was hard to talk about all the possible reasons why she wasn’t making progress. She may have a malformation of her heart or other organ, or digestive system. She may have been hypoxic during the delivery. She may simply have been born too early. Whatever the reason, we knew that she had fought hard, and we had fought hard, and it was time to let her go. There were many tears.

We can find some peace in knowing that she did not die alone in the dark and cold, with no one to care for her gently and whisper in her ear that she was beautiful and loved. After the foal passed, it seemed important to give her a name to acknowledge and celebrate her brief life. Something feminine; a name that represented her innocence and conveyed hope. She was, and always will be, a SAFE horse. We named her “Grace”.

Special thanks to Dr. Hannah Mueller, Dr. Jim Bryant, Jennifer M, Lisa D, Diane G, Emily B, Jennifer W, Terry P and Debi S for providing excellent care to Grace during her short life.

Sincere thanks to our generous supporters who have already contributed to Grace’s medical expenses. Additional donations are needed to cover expenses for Grace and her mom Ruby, who continues to receive inpatient care. Please help if you can. An update on Ruby’s condition will be posted in the near future.

Please click here to make a tax deductible donation to help us with Ruby’s ongoing medical expenses. And thank you for being part of SAFE!

Two New Arrivals…One Unexpected

We rely on our compassionate SAFE community members to help us provide for the horses in our program. Today, we need your help more than ever.

On Thursday evening, working with local Law Enforcement, we took in a young mare in serious trouble. Her BCS was a frightening 1/9, she was suffering from parasite overload, and on top of all that…she was pregnant. We were heartbroken for this young mare and made the decision to go over our cap to assist law enforcement with this very desperate situation.

When I went to pick her up on Thursday evening, she was alert but definitely weak. She stumbled badly getting on the trailer, nearly falling to her knees. After transporting her directly to the rehabilitation specialists at Northwest Equine Stewardship Center, she refused to unload from the trailer. It was as if she were saying, “I can’t possibly do this”. It took two of us to quite literally push her out of the trailer. We settled her into a comfortable stall and told her she was safe.

Dr. Hannah Mueller started treating her immediately, assessing her condition and prescribing the appropriate re-feeding diet. The young mare was sweet and docile and seemed to enjoy the attention. We named her Ruby. And we felt the baby kicking inside her. In her severely emaciated state, it was difficult to imagine a baby inside her. It was both sad and hopeful.

We were waiting to get her blood test results back and have a better feel for her prognosis before sharing the news of her intake and her pregnancy. We hoped that we would have a month or two to improve Ruby’s condition prior to delivery. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. Sunday morning at 1am, she gave birth to a beautiful bay filly with a star and four white socks. The delivery was very difficult, Ruby was too weak to push and Dr. Hannah had to assist in delivering the foal. The foal was not breathing well; in a strange twist of fate…there was oxygen available nearby. The foal was stabilized but was too weak to stand.

Ruby is only 3 years old. Still a baby herself. She doesn’t seem to have an interest in the foal, and she has no milk. Even if she did, in her current state it would be challenging for her to provide sustenance for a newborn baby when she is battling for her own recovery. The foal received a plasma transfusion and we are currently in search of a nurse mare to give this baby a chance. A potential nurse mare has been located in Vancouver, WA and we are trying to make the necessary arrangements to move her to Monroe.

As I write this, the foal is resting, Ruby is eating, and the sun is shining. I want to believe we can turn this tragedy into a miracle with a happy outcome for both of these innocent victims. Already the veterinary bills are piling up, estimates are they will run in the neighborhood of $3000. Acquiring a nurse mare will involve transport and boarding costs. We want our new arrival to have every reasonable opportunity for a healthy, happy life. If you can help, please make a donation today. SAFE, Ruby, and our Unexpected Arrival will sincerely appreciate your kindness. Please keep all of us in your thoughts…the coming days and weeks are sure to be challenging.

UPDATE: It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share the foal has passed away. She fought hard, and we fought hard, but it wasn’t enough. Mama Ruby is still hanging in by a whisper and we are fighting for her as well. More details later. Thanks for all of the love and good thoughts you’ve surrounded our sweet girls with today.

Ruby, BCS 1/9

Ruby, BCS 1/9

Ruby, eager for dinner

Ruby, eager for dinner

Our new arrival

Our new arrival