description: 1995 chestnut Arab mare
type of rescue: King County Animal Control seizure
intake date: 1/9/2014
adoption date: 3/1/2015
length of time with SAFE: 1 year, 1 month

ADOPTED!! by Susanne M of Duvall WA

Skittles’ Story: Skittles was taken from her owners by King County Animal Control due to severe neglect and starvation. She was rehabilitated at NWESC and signed over to SAFE for evaluation and placement into a new home. Skittles was very well trained and with an extensive show history as a 4-H mount. She found her forever home with a long time SAFE supporter, Susanne M. The two of them enjoy easy trail riding and each other’s company.

Skittles passed away on October 11, 2019. She will be missed by many people, but most of all, by her adopter and dear friend Susanne.

Skittles, rest in peace

We received this tragic news from Skittles’ adopter Susanne M.

My sweet Skittles left us sometime last night. She does not appear to have colicked or have been distressed; she looked like she just lay down to sleep. I pray she didn’t suffer or know any fear.

Skittles had such a big personality. She greeted everyone who came into the barn and took an interest in everything that went on. Sometimes it seemed as if she was about to join a conversation.

She made her opinions known if her mash took too long to be served, but I like to think she knew she would never be starved again. Despite her inability to chew grass or hay in her last two years or so, she thrived on her mash diet. We discovered that she loved bananas, replacing the apples and carrots she could no longer have. She was always eager to go out to the arena, often galloping around in sheer high spirits before getting to work walking at liberty with me to “barrel race” (walk around some barrels) and “jump” (step over some poles).

This is just so sudden and unexpected. Dr. Colton gave her her annual checkup and shots about three weeks ago and said she looked terrific; she treated him to a display of high jinks in the arena, which prompted him to ask, “How old is she?” Whatever her age may have been, her spirit was joyful.

What Skittles gave to me is immeasurable. I was 65 years old when she became the horse of my own I wanted since early childhood. She taught me so much. I can’t grasp that I will never again see her looking over the fence and greeting me.

I want to thank everyone who helped me take care of Skittles since I adopted her in 2014. I won’t mention names, but they know who they are and how much I appreciate them. And I also want to thank Save a Forgotten Equine, where Skittles was rehabilitated after being rescued from starvation and neglect. Thank you for entrusting her care to me.

Susanne, we are so saddened by Skittles’ passing. Thank you so much for providing her with so many years of love, laughter, and great care.

A happy home for Skittles

Skittles and Susanne

Skittles and Susanne

We talk a lot about dreams coming true for our horses when we finally get to send them off to their new home, but we’re happiest when an adoption can make a dream come true for the human side of the new partnership as well. Susanne M has supported SAFE for quite some time now as a monthly sponsor, but one day she happened to share with me that at age 65, she had a dream of someday becoming a horse owner. There was one SAFE horse in particular who reminded her of a beloved horse she had helped care for for many years…and that was Skittles. Susanne had wondered if perhaps Skittles was related to her old friend through breeding, and while we couldn’t answer that question, Susanne was able to come to Safe Harbor and start to get to know Skittles a bit better.

When she first brought up the idea of adoption, Susanne remarked that she worried that Skittles might find her boring, since all she really wanted to do was light trail riding and hacking out. We assured her that Skittles would find that sort of life delightful! Susanne and Skittles took their time getting to know each other, including several lessons with Terry and a lot of discussion about Skittles’ special dietary and turnout needs. Throughout the process, we were impressed with Susanne’s thoughtful and careful approach to the commitment of horse ownership, as well as the love and friendship that grew between her and Skittles. Susanne brought Skittles home for a 30 day trial at the start of February as the final step to making this a permanent adoption, and happily, everything has turned out just as well as we’d hoped. Skittles is home.

Susanne tells us that Skittles is loving the beautiful spring weather, and just last week, she watched with joy as Skittles raced around in the sunshine like a young filly! We wish Susanne and Skittles the best together, and we could not be happier to know that in this case, everyone’s dreams have come true!

Skittles and volunteer rider Erika

if you don’t like the weather in Seattle…

…wait 10 minutes and something different will come along. Luckily the SAFE horses are friends in rain or shine!

October Training Report



Phoenix had a hard month concentrating under saddle. He continues to look sound on the front but does come out of his stall pretty stiff both in the front and hind. He had quite a few naughty days this month mostly due to work, noise, and activity at the barn that made him anxious. He’s up to 10 min of trot per workout now and should be adding 5 more minutes per week after that. He has also been working on trailer loading and has carefully made his way all the way into the trailer a few times!

Lola has had a very good month. She went out on a trail ride to the watershed with Skye. She was initially reluctant to lead the way and about an hour into the ride I felt she was ready. We moved into sharing the lead with Skye and then as she gained her confidence we took the lead. She was a great girl and led the rest of the way home! She trotted and cantered in the lead, was easy to bring back down and was not afraid by even a bicyclist who came around a bend. This girl has come a long way this year. She is ready for a great forever home who wants a fun mare to enjoy both arena and trail work!

Cameo was a great girl all month. We are trying her on a magnesium supplement to help with muscle discomfort and calmness. After about 2 weeks on the product, I could see a change in her attitude. It may not be something she needs forever but it seems to be helping take some of the edge off and helping her focus. She still takes a few minutes to smooth out when I initially get on but once she does, she has a very nice trot and a lovely canter. She still has a hard time picking up the correct lead on the right. Without a rider, she has no problem picking it up, but under a rider, she gets off balance and falls over the right shoulder. We are working on keeping her balance and this should get easier. Our goal with Cameo for October is to get her more relaxed about trailer loading so that we can take her out somewhere like Bridle Trails for an easy trail ride.

Skye has been really working hard to change her work ethic and she is making steady progress. When she came home from training, she still had quite an objection about going forward under saddle, but it’s hard to say if that was due to lack of fitness or some sort of mental block. But with improved athletic conditioning, her willingness to go forward has improved considerably. Plus she’s lost some weight as well as more time miles under saddle.

It is important that this big girl has a relationship where she understands clearly what is being asked of her and learns to answer requests with respect. Over time, she’s come to realize that she’s pretty big, and she holds herself in pretty high regard. I like the confidence in her personality but she needs to also listen to her rider. In the herd, during turnout, she is quietly bossy and typically pushes through whatever’s in her way to get to where she wants to go. But she is learning that with humans she can’t get big and pushy. Her ground manners are greatly improved and her willingness to load and unload calmly from the trailer is much better. She still needs some practice getting out of the trailer slowly but it’s getting better every time. Skye went on three trail rides last week, and was a very good girl. I think she has found her calling, out in the woods as a trail horse. She looked very happy to be out of the arena and outside in the open air.



Skittles continues to be a gem in every possible way. We have had her on a glucosamine supplement for 30days. She is looking and moving well but continues to experience weakness on the right hind. While it doesn’t seem to give her a tremendous amount of pain but it is evident that she has trouble bringing it completely through and motion in the stifle maybe limited. Her canter leads are improving and she is able to pick up that difficult right lead correctly but still makes some mistakes.

Emmy is as sweet as ever! She is easy to groom and handle and likes other horses but doesn’t squeal or get overly excited. I have been sitting on her, getting her used to leg pressure and light guiding reins. We have trotted on the lunge line and she is getting more responsive to my seat and leg. She still does not like pressure on the reins but she is accepting it more each ride. After her recent visit with the chiropractor, her ability to turn to the left was greatly improved and she seems to be less uncomfortable when turn her head to the left. She does have a slight head wag in the trot when she is at liberty as well as on the line. Nothing too troublesome, just something to note that may go away as she gets more balance and strength. Her canter to the left needs a lot more balance, she goes into “motorcycle mare”…dropping her inside shoulder and losing her hind end out behind her. These are all things that will improve with more balance work.

Another trail ride adventure for Skye, Skittles, and Lola


We took a big group to the Redmond Watershed today for a trail ride: Skittles, Skye, Lola and Debi’s horse Summer. It was good to go out on a busy trail day so we could see more people, bikes and other horses. All the horses did very well. Skittles was a great leader and happy to stay up front. She crossed bridges and if she was shy about something she took just a little encouragement to go forward and approach it. Lola was ridden by our volunteer rider, Casey, who had a more difficult time taking the lead than she had had when I rode her the previous two times. Maybe she was a little tired or it just wasn’t a day she wanted to lead. But she was still well behaved and was easy for Casey to control in all gaits. Skye did very well with SAFE Executive Director Bonnie aboard. It was Skye’s third trail ride and Bonnie’s first ride on her. She was very well behaved and is proving to be a good trail horse. At one point, Skittles and Lola even were asked to split off from the other two horses and Skye stood well with Summer as the others trotted and cantered away up the hill.

I have to admit I was having way too much fun on Skittles and felt very comfortable and easy on her. She is such a special mare and showed great confidence in herself and trust in what I asked of her. Although I would always ride on the trails with a buddy, I think Skittles would be just as happy out riding alone as she was with others. You can’t say this about many horses! We did learn that one thing she doesn’t like is having another horse get too close to her hind end. She was fine most of the time but did turn and give the mean face to Skye when she was coming up to her and one time gave quiet a good kick towards Skye. It was easily managed, and no one got kicked, but it’s something her future riders should be aware of in the future. All three SAFE mares did very well for this outing and I would say they all will bring their future owners many years of enjoyment on the trails.

The color of fall…

…is best personified by the lovely redhead Miss Skittles. Photos from our Sept 28th “Friend-Raiser” at Safe Harbor.

Skittles says “What are you waiting for?!”

Skittles has been with SAFE since January, and she is more than ready for her forever home! She has so much she wants to do, she’s just waiting for the right friend to come along and share some adventures with her!

Terry & Skittles on the trail!

Terry & Skittles on the trail!

Over the last couple of months, Skittles experienced some bouts of pretty significant diarrhea. We adjusted her diet to see if we could determine what was causing it. The culprit? Grass! Anything over about an hour of grazing per day and her digestive system got pretty upset. Since limiting her turnout to dry lot areas, things are going much better. Another concern was raised after Skittles was observed drinking about twice the normal amount of water. She was also looking a little ribby. We had our vet do a thorough exam, and some bloodwork was done to rule out serious issues. We are happy to report that all of Skittle’s tests were completely normal. She does not have Cushing’s or any kidney/liver issues. The veterinarian has suggested that she may just be one of those horses who gets bored and drinks extra water. We have seen this before in other horses; aside from more frequent filling of the water bucket, it is not a concern.

Since Skittles now has a clean bill of health from the veterinarian, we would like to once again point out that this little girl was a gem at the SAFE show in August. She bathes, trailers, and listens well in new environments. She was a Show Pro, and couldn’t have behaved any better.

Just a few days ago, Skittles was loaded up for a trail ride at Bridle Trails State Park. She thoroughly enjoyed the outing and was very well behaved in spite of being quite “alert” and active. She preferred to be in the lead on the ride, but would listen to her rider and consent to follow as well. She also crossed wooden bridges and walk/trot/cantered in the forest with a relaxed and happy attitude. She was a joy to ride. She has proven that she is the same horse no matter where you take her!

Skittles’ ideal home would have the ability to limit her grass intake (a grazing muzzle should do the trick). She gets along well with other horses, mares and geldings alike. Her ideal rider would be a petite height and weight, either adult or child. Arabians tend to live long and useful lives; although she is 19 she has many happy and productive years left. This should be taken into consideration when deciding if a child rider might outgrow her. Skittles is considered beginner safe, but of course she would excel under the guidance of a trainer. She can go English, Western, jumping, and trail riding. She is the epitome of versatile!

Skittles at the SAFE Show

skittles_07What a “Show Pro” little Skittles turned out to be at the SAFE Benefit Horse Show! She had a wonderful “been there done that no big deal” attitude about everything. We all had a ton of fun at the show and she was so easy to work with in every way. She bathed, loaded and unloaded, settled into her stall, warmed up on Friday with no spooking or nervousness about anything, and went into each class honestly and without hesitation. It is so wonderful to have the same ride on the day of a show that you are able to get at home.

As a trainer, I have to say this mare is worth her weight in gold. On Sunday I asked our volunteer Sage, age 12, to ride and handle Skittles for the entire day. Skittles was an absolute gem! Sage took her into many of the western classes and through the trails course. She placed in the ribbons and was willing to do whatever Sage asked of her.

Skittles is doing well with her ground work and riding. She continues to make progress, getting more steady and balanced. Skittles is absolutely ready to be adopted and we need your help to spread the word about this little mare. She deserves a wonderful family to love and care for her.

Photos of Skittles by Karen Wegehenkel:

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.

Skittles is Ready!

We’ve had a lot of good things to say about Skittles since she arrived at SAFE after her rehabilitation at NWESC. Let’s recap:

  • She’s beautiful. A bright chestnut Arab with a big wide blaze and three white socks, she’ll catch your eye for sure!
  • She’s healthy. NWESC did a tremendous job of bringing this mare back from starvation. She glows with health.
  • She’s sweet. Skittles greets everyone with a nicker and a smile. And you can’t help but smile back.
  • She’s happy. Without a doubt, Skittles is overjoyed that her life has taken a turn for the better. She makes that abundantly clear to us when we bring her mash into her stall. Volunteers are greeted with a chorus of nickers and squeals, as if she still can’t believe her good fortune that food comes every day!
  • She’s a gem. It’s time for Skittles to have her own family and start her new life. She is ready.

Skittles is going very well at the walk, trot, and canter. Last Friday, we had the pleasure of watching her being ridden by Kirann G, the lovely young rider who played a major role in the development of Moonshine and Maggie. The two of them tried some lateral work under Terry’s direction to get Skittles to relax and stretch forward, and then demonstrated some lovely trot and canter work for us.

Here’s a video that was taken at the end of Skittles and Kirann’s ride on Friday. Skittles was a little tired after a full week of work, but still kind and willing for Kirann:

We’ve been talking a lot lately about getting more of the SAFE horses adopted so that we have the space available to help horses like Ruby when we get the call, and finding a great new home for Skittles would certainly help us tremendously as well as being great for Skittles herself. Whoever ends up adopting Skittles will be getting a fine horse who has a LOT to offer, and we know that she is going to make someone very happy. If you’ve been watching Skittles with an eye towards offering her a home, now is the time to fill out an application. And if you know someone who is looking for a wonderful horse to add to their family, please let them know that Skittles is ready!

Skittles Training Update

Skittles did very well on the trail ride Sunday. She is very brave, liked to lead, and had a go button. Overall she stayed calm and listened well. She would have loved to run up the hills but I was able to keep her at a walk. She was fine with the other horses too.

I had Kirann come ride her yesterday to see how she was with a new rider and she did great. It was nice to see how cute she is now that she is relaxing her neck and not in such an upside down frame. She is learning the canter cues and has some balance issues at the canter but still working on that. She is getting stronger but still too weak to hold self carriage all the time but had some nice moments. She is also doing some nice baby leg yields. At the beginning she wasn’t quite sure about them but now she is getting them nicely.

She is very easy going to the right but the left is very stuck. The chiropractic adjustment helped but she will need to be readjusted next tine Dr Meyer is out. The dressage work will also help.

Trail Ride!

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.”

The Alpaca Gauntlet

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!


Skittles and the alpaca herd


Kat meets an alpaca

April Training Notes: Skittles

Skittles is doing very well and is now going walk trot and canter under saddle. She did seem to lose a little weight this month, possibly due to coming into season, so I increased her mash again just a bit. She is muscling up a bit along the top line mostly over her shoulders and neck but still thin over her back muscles. She also has a very crooked tail and is difficult to bend/move to the left. It’s pretty minor, and I’m hoping that dressage work will help address the problem, maybe even some donated bodywork if that can be arranged.

Skittles at the Open House

Skittles had the opportunity to let her sweet personality shine during this past weekend’s Open House. She was the official greeter in the main barn, and she was completely charming.

March training notes: Skittles

Skittles is going very well under saddle in both walk and trot. She has shown on two different occasions that she is a very level headed horse by not overreacting to noises or other horses acting up in turnout next to the arena while she was being riden. I wouldn’t say she’s “bomb proof” but that she is making good choices. She is getting very good with the ground work, showing good submission and relaxation. The only real “issue” she still needs work on is her tendency to get over excited when her mash is brought into her stall. I’ll be working with her on backing up and waiting for her bucket and not crowding the person who is feeding her. Weather permitting, I will set up a trail ride with her this month.

Skittles Training Report, January 2014

Skittles is very sweet and easy to be around and groom. She has some pushy behaviors when asked to move and yield her front shoulders. She carries her head high and is tight over her back. After her arrival at SAFE, we gave her time to settle in, followed by ground work to help establish leadership, then started riding her last week. There were no problems with tack or grooming. On her first ride with Terry, Skittles started out a little anxious, but was easily quieted. It was the first time she’d been ridden in some time, and there was a crowd of people at the gate. She calmed down and the “bolting” energy went away with some easy walking around the arena. Terry will continue the ground work and riding with the goal of making her kid safe ready. Terry has lots of desensitizing ground work planned.

Taste the Rainbow!

We have a new horse to introduce to everyone! Her name is Skittles, she is an 18 year old Arab mare who is supposedly trained and able to be ridden

Skittles was seized by King County Animal Control several months, and placed at Northwest Equine Stewardship Center for rehabilitation. She came to NWESC underweight, but as you’ll see from the photos below, they did an excellent job of returning her to good health, and getting her up to date on all routine care.

Skittles was wearing shoes when she arrived at NWESC and was supposedly being ridden at the time of the seizure. Terry will begin working with her after she gets settled in, and we’ll be sure to let you know how that goes. We are told that she can be a little marish and squealy around geldings, and we’ll be observing her behavior for signs of that as well. Terry says that so far she’s been a great little girl. A little messy in her stall so we’re putting her hay in a feeding box now. Other than that she’s real sweet, easy to groom and walk. We’ll start lunging and introducing tack next week.

Debi, who trailered her from NWESC to SAFE last week, describes Skittles as “in-your-pocket” with just a slight dominant attitude. Really easy to convince her to respect your space. She also has a scritchy spot mid-mane that will put her in lip-quivering giraffe mode! Cute!