breed: 1996 liver chestnut Quarter Horse gelding
type of rescue: Snohomish County Animal Control seizure
intake date: 4/20/2017
date of adoption:
length of time with SAFE: 6 months

ADOPTED by Barbara G

Ruger was seized from his owner by Animal Control. At the time, he had a body condition score of 1.5 and was in severely bad health. Ruger was a former reining horse and a champion sire, but his former fame was not enough to save him from starvation and neglect. Ruger was gelded by SCAC and signed over to SAFE. We considered asking him to be a riding horse again, but he made it pretty clear to us that he was done with that nonsense. His body showed the signs of years of hard work and confinement, and it was time to grant this handsome gentleman his retirement. Ruger was a delight to have at the barn. He had impeccable manners and a kind and gentle nature. Not to mention he was drop dead handsome. Ruger was adopted by a SAFE volunteer who swore that she would not be adopting a horse from us… but the heart wants what the heart wants! Now known as Koa, this handsome horse lives the life of Riley with friends big and small, and a loving guardian who will never allow him to be mistreated again.

A new life, a new name, for Ruger

When one of SAFE’s Board of Directors puts in an adoption application, we know it’s going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity for the lucky horse! Barbara came to SAFE to volunteer as a chore volunteer and quickly shared her gifts as a powerhouse organizer and fundraiser. She told our Volunteer Manager, Jane, in her orientation interview that she had all the horses she needed so she would NOT be adopting a horse from SAFE in the future. Much to all of our surprise, Barbara fell madly in love with Ruger…and where there is a will, there is a way!

We had such a big outpouring of interest from the reining community when we first brought Ruger into SAFE but that dried up when people realized he could not be the riding horse they were looking for. Luckily Barbara sees her relationship with horses in a much different light. For her the horse always comes first and their happiness and comfort is number one priority. She is very content with long walks in the park and loving the companionship of this gentle soul. It was not just a perfect match for Ruger but the life and respect he so much deserves for the remainder of his years.

To say we are overjoyed at this adoption is a major understatement. This is the stuff real love and kindness is all about. Ruger not only has a new life but a lovely new name “Koa”. Barbara said: “It means strength and courage in Hawaiian. Which is something this dear boy has sure showed us.” We couldn’t be more hopeful for Koa’s new life and are happy to announce he has made his way home to a very loving family and friends!

Thank you Jessica Farren for taking these lovely photos of Barbara and Koa!

Handsome Ruger

Thank you, Jessica Farren, for these great shots of Mr Ruger!

The latest on Ruger

Enjoying his massage!

SAFE volunteers have been working hard to get Ruger through his rehabilitation. His weight has been holding steady for a while now and he seems to be doing well on a maintenance feeding of ten pounds of senior feed per day, broken into three meals. He is out on pasture for half the day and grazes a bit, but due to the condition of his teeth, he does not get (nor will he ever get) the amount of the calories he needs to maintain a healthy weight from pasture or dry hay alone. He gets some hay in his stall at night that he picks through but again, it’s the senior feed that is giving him the nutrients he needs. Ruger will need to be on that for the rest of his life.

His hooves have made a significant amount of improvement. With the help of some prescription medication, we have gotten the hoof fungus under control. Once that was cleared up, we could tell that he was genuinely uncomfortable on his front hooves. Barefoot, he looked like he was walking on broken glass. For turnout he wore a pair of Soft Ride boots with gel insoles, designed for horses suffering from extreme lamanitic pain. At night he would come into his stall we would take off his boots and treat the fungus. This went on for about a month. When the fungus cleared up we decided to give him shoes with pads and dental impression material under the pads. This made him as comfortable as with the boots on but we could now start to assess him as a riding horse.

Ruger’s a gentle guy to be around, be he has some issues that need to be disclosed. He is easy to walk from his stall to turnout but he needs to be watched around mares. We have put only geldings in the pasture next to him because he will become too attached and excited if there is a mare close by. He has shown no signs of aggression towards people.

After doing some groundwork to get his muscles and joints moving and strengthening again, we tacked him up with the saddle. The first two times we did this he reared straight up into the air. The behavior did not continue with subsequent saddlings, but he remained very tight backed and visibly uncomfortable.

So to recap: after 2 months of rehabilitation with SAFE, Ruger is back to a good weight, all rain rot and hoof fungus has been treated and healed, and a comfortable shoeing package is helping him walk and trot without front hoof pain. This is a huge transformation from where he was just a few months ago. However, it’s not enough for Ruger to be adopted as a riding horse. With every step and movement he makes, you can hear his joints creak and pop. While he comfortably walks on his front hooves, his hinds show advanced arthritis, He is clearly not sound at the trot. When asked to lope he does so out of respect for the handler but he can’t keep it up for very long. So we have decided not to ask him to be a riding horse anymore.

So what does this mean for his future? What will be the ideal home for this boy? We are now accepting applications from local families that are willing to retire him and give him the happy life he deserves. He is not available as a riding horse so we are looking for someone who wants a handsome horses as a pet and companion. Due to his tendency to show some stud behavior, we have not turned him out with other horses. So ideally he will be able to be kept separate from the other horses at his new home, at least until his studly behavior ceases. Generally it can take up to a year for the stallion hormones to subside but with some late cut stallions it never completely goes away. While he has show no signs of aggression towards people, we would still recommend children remain supervised around him, and care being taken when around mares

He is healthy and ready for a new home. He has been a delight to be around and SAFE is hopeful the right home will be found to love and protect this gentleman the rest of his life.

Everybody Loves Ruger

We’ve had a lot of people reach out to us over the last few days about Ruger, who many of know as Parnelli. At the moment, Ruger is not available for adoption. He’s only been with us for few weeks, and he is still recovering from the neglect he suffered. When Ruger is ready for adoption, we will be looking for someone who can provide a home where he will be taken care of for the rest of his life, whether he is a riding horse or a pasture pet. At 21, this horse deserves a wonderful retirement and shouldn’t be expected to work too hard. At this point, we do not know if he will be a riding horse again. He’s been through an awful lot.

His dental exam a few weeks ago showed that his teeth are very worn out, and a lack of dental care in the past unfortunately has not helped. This affects the amount of nutrients he can get from chewing and eating hay, so he will need to have supplemental feed going forward. At this time, we’re feeding him 10 pounds of senior feed, in addition to his hay, every day. It’s expensive but it is what he needs. Potential adopters will need to consider these expenses before making a commitment to this horse.

Our farrier trimmed his hooves two weeks ago and re-checked him again on Monday. Ruger’s feet were terribly neglected and he has a severe case of thrush and hoof rot. It will take at least a month of daily treatments to get that under control. His hooves are very tender and ouchy right now because he has deep cuts in his heels and frogs. So we cannot work him or start him back under saddle until those are completely healed. He still has a bit more weight to put on and we are working on clearing up his rain rot and skin irritations. Ruger has been an absolute gentleman for his rehab and very easy for our Barn Managers and volunteers to handle.

We have had a flood of calls, emails, and adoption applications for Ruger over the last few days. Although he is not being offered for adoption yet, we will accept adoption applications from interested adopters and keep them on file until Ruger is ready. It is heartwarming to know that so many people recognize this horse and want to offer him a home. But while he is still in recovery, here are a couple ideas to consider:

  1. Ruger needs friends!! Sponsor Ruger with a small automatic monthly donation and help support his recovery! Ruger and Harley did not come to SAFE with any financial assistance from Animal Control. If you want to be part of his rescue story, please consider sponsoring him while he is at SAFE. Click here to learn more about SAFE horse sponsorship.
  2. Ruger is only one horse…but SAFE has many fine, well trained horses available for adoption right now! These are healthy horses that have received professional training to start or re-start them under saddle, and who are in full work with volunteer riders here at SAFE. They are ready to take you wherever you want to go!! Take a look at:
Stevie, a 4 year old black Mustang gelding
Professionally started under saddle by Joel ConnerClick here for more about Stevie
Ben, a 13 year old 16.2hh chestnut Thoroughbred gelding
Handsome and athletic, with a ton of personality!
Click here for more about Ben
Jewel, a 6 year old palomino and white mare
She was started here at SAFE and is advanced in the horsemanship work. She has attended a Buck Brannaman clinic and has both show and trail experience.
Click here for more about Jewel
King, a stunning 9 year old black and white gelding
Currently in training with Joel Conner and ready to meet adopters.Click here for more about King
Prince, a 15 year old black Morgan gelding
Great trail horse learning to work in the arena!
Click here for more about Prince
Cameo, a gorgeous 8 year old bay Arab mare
Will make someone an unbelievable partner!
Click here for more about Cameo

These horses, and all the adoptable horses at SAFE, may not be famous, but they should be! Adopting a well trained horse from SAFE means that you are opening a spot for a another horse that really needs us.

Harley and Ruger Intake Photos

Harley and Ruger were seized from their owner in mid January 2017 by Snohomish County Animal Control. Both horses were emaciated, suffering from rain rot, with overgrown hooves. They were both found standing in deep mud and manure on their owner’s property and appeared to have been abandoned. They remained in county custody for several months while their court case began, and were signed over to SAFE in late April. Ruger, who was a stallion, was gelded by the County at the end of March.

Intake Photos:

Ruger, prior to intake

Harley, prior to intake