2003 roan BLM Mustang mare
Type of Rescue: Owner Surrender
Intake Date:
Length of time with SAFE:
1 year, 7 months

Rest in Peace, dear Tanis

Tanis came from the Hog Creek Herd in Eastern Oregon. Her adopter bought her for her granddaughter, and before coming to SAFE, she lived on a property for 12 years with little to no handling. When we arrived to pick her up, we found Tanis turned out with a gelding who had a lot of nasal discharge. Both horses were coughing, and were covered in rain rot and lice. We had only planned to be bringing one horse home that day, but we asked the current resident if the gelding could come too and that’s how we ended up with two horses instead of one.

Tanis was very shy when she arrived at SAFE, but with continued handling and groundwork, she became a real sweetheart. Tanis participated in several Joel Conner clinics, learning and perfecting her groundwork. Tragically, we lost Tanis to colic, and had to say goodbye too soon to this lovely, gentle mare.

Goodbye, Tanis

Goodbye, Tanis 

Tanis, beloved SAFE horse, was laid to rest last week under a warm blue sky following a sudden and painful colic.
As is the case with colics, they can escalate quickly from seemingly mild into devastating rather quickly. We first noticed something was amiss around turnout time, when after finishing her grain mash breakfast, Tanis was down in her stall. Horses lying down when there is food around is uncommon, and often times a sign that something was wrong. And indeed, as we gathered our tools to take vitals, Tanis went up and down in her stall several times, rolling and clearly uncomfortable. We called the vet immediately, who told us to give banamine and keep her posted. We removed Tanis from her herd so we could keep an eye on her, spending the hour it took the banamine to kick in walking her around the roundpen and trying to keep her from going down to roll. Her respiration rate was very high (in the 40s), and her heart rate was elevated as well.
After an hour, while there was perhaps a mild improvement of her symptoms, she was still uncomfortable. Her vitals were still abnormal, and when we communicated all this with the vet, she made a plan to make it out as soon as she was able. Then it was about playing the waiting game. Tanis, for the most part, was standing still, and was her breathing not so heavy and her heart rate so high, it would have been easy to think she was feeling okay. But every few minutes, she would get a sudden urge to roll, trotting off and buckling her knees to go down. Per our vet’s wishes, we kept her upright during these times, but allowed her to walk out as long as she remained standing. She passed a normal sized pile of manure, but that did not seem to make any difference in the way she was feeling.
The vet arrived, and sedated Tanis for a rectal exam. Despite not being fond of needles, Tanis was a trooper for her IV sedation, even when it was clear she was feeling the ‘need to roll’ urge. Her first rectal revealed not a ton of motility, which made it difficult for our vet to feel very far in. She chose to ultrasound, which revealed a fair amount of gas, and a stomach that was distended past the point of being normal. At that point, we felt we were dealing with a gas colic, which was consistent with her painful symptoms, and the next steps would be to try and help her expel some of that gas through regular bouts of exercise. We made a plan to check back in, and would get Tanis moving as soon as she woke up from her sedation.
In the roundpen, we tried all manner of things to help Tanis pass gas. When plain trotting out wasn’t doing it, we introduced some things that normally would have really got her moving — waving empty grain bags around, tossing the rope over her back and having her change eyes on it, working her with the flag in areas that she still had trouble. But not only was she more subdued about all these things, she was also not expelling any of that gas. At the end of her rest periods, we took her heart rate, and found that it was even higher than before. After a bit more time (including a ride on the trailer, normally a sure fire way to get a horse’s guts moving), we checked back in with our vets.
They came out again. Another rectal revealed that same gas as before, and this time they were able to successfully intubate her, where they found she had some reflux. Things just weren’t moving through. They ultrasounded again, and found that on her right side, there was gas in places it shouldn’t be. Our vet felt that based on the imaging, something had ruptured in her small intestine — the cause was unclear, but the end result was the same, there was nothing that could be done. Her heart rate at this point was in the 80s, and despite being under heavy sedation, she was still hugely uncomfortable. But stoic Tanis did not allow much pain to seep through her surface. She was tremendously brave up until the end.
We walked her out into the grass. It was a warm, sunny fall day. We said goodbye under a tree shedding its leaves, and Tanis was laid peacefully to rest with a big mouthful of grass, surrounded by so many people who had loved her deeply.
We tell the story of a horse’s last day to inform everyone what happened, to offer transparency as to why we made the decision that we did (or, in this case, why that decision was made for us). But there is so much more to a horse’s story than how we lost them. It is also about how we found them, and how they came to find themselves.
Tanis was born in 2003 on the Hog Creek HMA in Oregon. She arrived at SAFE in early 2022 with a rope someone had used to tag her still around her neck. She was unhandled, but with a kind eye and a curiosity towards people. Her first “person” here was Kaya M, who halter started her and taught her that people weren’t so bad (and that they could scratch her jowls in just the way she liked). From there, she continued her gentling journey alongside Meghan N, who spent countless hours showing her how to be more comfortable as a horse, but also what it meant to be loved by a human. Tanis was a participant in many Joel Conner clinics where she was both a student and a teacher to friends like Sara H and Candi K, among others. Tanis touched just as many people as touched her, if not more. 
While Tanis was never adopted out, that does not by any stretch of the imagination mean she did not have a family. Each volunteer who filled her hay bag and picked out her stall and paddock was a part of her life, and her transformation from shy and untouched to brave and friendly.
When she was not interacting with people, Tanis was out with her group of mares, playing second-fiddle to Esme, and using her big beautiful body as a block for her friends to hide behind to avoid being caught. She was the first to welcome Wren into the herd, and was a phenomenal herdmate. She enjoyed sun naps alongside her pasture mates, gulping down sweet waters, and being first in line for grass turnout.
We will remember Tanis as a gorgeous, courageous mare, who rose from a scared and unhandled horse into the sweet, gentle giant she was destined to be.
Tanis Continues to Soften

Tanis Continues to Soften 

The year is moving right along, and so is Tanis, as she continues to build confidence in herself and trust in people. This time last year, only a couple people could catch this mare; fast forward to this moment, and she loves face pets, has found more comfort and curiosity around people and recently realized that she kind of loves a good nose kiss! Tanis’s confidence is showing more and more; from her thoughtful movements, to her relaxed head/neck as she is led around the property, she is truly feeling safe and comfortable in her own skin!

While we continue to work on fine-tuning things like hindquarters, turning loose and changing eyes, we’ve also started to focus on some necessary basics, such as taking medicine (wormer) from a syringe and accepting a needle/vaccine. Overall, we wanted to work on helping Tanis find more comfort with her face/mouth being touched, and all of the many ways that she will need to be handled so she can be given the best care.


Tanis has held a lot of tension and some braces when it comes to having her mouth touched. So, we have been spending lots of time helping her learn that having her face/mouth touched isn’t as scary as she first thought. Gentle touch and release of pressure has really helped Tanis start to moving through her anxiety and to release some of that tension she has held. There has been lots of releasing and yawning from this mare as she learns she can just let go and everything will be ok!


Vaccines are still scary for Tanis, as she is unsure about the touch she feels when the vet needs to find a vein, and the stress of knowing the needle is next. We have been spending some time getting Tanis more comfortable with her neck being touched in multiple places with varying pressure. As well as playing with the tip of a finger and a pen to simulate what a needle might feel like. This has been helping Tanis understand that she is going to be just fine, which has increased her confidence while lessening her startle reaction. We still have more work to do on these, but so far Tanis is on the right track to gently accepting the care that she needs.


Life isn’t all work around here! Tanis is loving these longer summer days, spending her time snoozing in the paddock and grazing with her herd on the grass. She has been enjoying her grooming sessions, and the addition of summer braids to keep her neck a little cooler. It’s so exciting to watch the continued transformation of Tanis, she is going to make one lucky family very happy one of these days; she’s got a big heart and a lot of love that she’s just waiting to share with the right person!

March 2022 at Tanis’s intake to SAFE, to this summer…a now healthy and happy mare!

Tanis leaning in for her first official face kiss!


Terrific Tanis

Terrific Tanis 

Volunteer Meghan N has been spending most of her weekday afternoons with Tanis for almost a year now, and took the time to write a bit about their partnership over the last months:


Yet again, Tanis impresses us with the huge amount of try she has!  


This mare has really come so far since her intake in spring of 2022. Over the winter, we worked hard on everything from hindquarters/front quarters, backing up, changing eyes, and truly feeling of the person she is with. One thing Tanis asks of her person, is that they are gentle and calm, while also having good boundaries and confidence in their ask. She wants to really know that she is safe with you, that you mean what you say; so she can relax and just be a horse.  


As Tanis’s hindquarters started improving, almost everything else began to fall a little more in place; and a shift in her confidence, trust and connection with people occurred. Tanis became more curious of other volunteers around the farm (not just those who worked with her). From barn assists fixing her hay box, to folks stopping by the round pen while she was being groomed, her curiosity grew. Then one day, she started accepting face pets from new people who she may have previously shied away from! This was such a turning point for this sweet mare, as she found the confidence in herself to trust more than just a handful of people.  


Winter also brought new horse friends into Tanis’s life, as she joined a herd of mares for the first time since coming to SAFE. Currently, there are 5 mares that make up the herd, and Tanis falls somewhere in the middle. She prefers to defer to a lead mare, though making sure she isn’t on the bottom of the pecking order. As Tanis’s skills continue to improve, she has become more and more confident in herself. This has shown in her friendliness when you enter the paddock. Many times she stops and waits for you to halter her, or gently walks up to you to say hello (even if you are coming in for a different horse). Tanis is very food motivated, and sometimes just can’t wait to get back to her friends, so walks to/from her paddock are sometimes slower than usual, as we work on not rushing and staying with me; consistency, time and patience are key here. 

As winter ended and spring emerged, Tanis took part in her 4th Joel Conner Clinic. At the start of the clinic, she was a bit concerned about not being with her herd (mainly the lead mare, Esme). But with the help of Joel, we were able to work together and help Tanis to find her focus on the task at hand. This clinic saw huge changes in Tanis, that really showed in her softer movements, attentiveness, and her calm confident steps. It seemed as though she truly started to feel free in her feet, and everything just became easier (for us both). 

Since the clinic, Tanis continues to fine tune her hindquarters. As well, we have been doing some rope work to continue her growth and confidence with changing eyes and to give to pressure. With the warmer weather she has enjoyed dandelion flowers as a special treat, and of course sweet water buckets! Life is pretty good for this amazing mare. Though there is one thing Tanis is still searching for…and that’s a person/family of her very own; to love and care for her, giving her tons of face pets and helping her to live her best life! She’s definitely ready and waiting for you to come meet her and fall in love!”

Time with Tanis

Time with Tanis 

Meghan N has been working with Tanis over the last several months, participating in two Joel Conner clinics alongside her, and has the following to say about this sweet mare:

Tanis is a big hearted mare with a whole lotta try! She has been busy since coming to SAFE earlier this year; and this past weekend participated in her third Joel Conner clinic. Leading up to the clinic, Tanis worked so hard with a flag and small tarp, which helped her to move through any fear of the sounds, movement and feel of a rain sheet. For the first time, she was and blanketed, and now it’s just a normal part of her day to have the rain sheet taken on/off!

The clinic was a lot of work, but worth every second! While Tanis would love to snuggle and get lots love and pets, she is finding confidence, peace and freedom within herself as she continues to learn balance and trust in her ability to be free in her feet. This mare really appreciates clear communication and gentle confidence at the end of the lead rope. Tanis worked hard on some braces she held when practicing hind quarters, and is working on a more smooth front quarters. As her feet and hind become more free, she is becoming more confident in her backup. While this clinic had many big moments for us, one that really stood out was how ‘with me’ Tanis wanted to be! She tries hard to feel and be with you, and it really showed as we practiced leading from a walk to trot, with random stopping and backing up, at all speeds.

This mare is so smart, she really wants to learn and enjoys how good it feels to be able to freely move, leaving any fear and doubt she use to hold in her past. By the end of the three day clinic, she was calm, confident and truly with me. She enjoyed lots of extra face pets (her FAVORITE thing), and is now having a well-deserved few days off. Tanis is going to fill some lucky families hearts with so much love and joy; I’m so excited for what her future holds!”


Tanis’ First Joel Conner Clinic

Tanis’ First Joel Conner Clinic 

Tanis participated in her first clinic last weekend and made some huge changes! She has an ingrained reaction to pull back, so our focus was moving forward freely. The extra challenges presented by the clinic (other people waving flags, big open space with lots of horses, audience of people) actually really helped us progress. At the beginning of the clinic, I pretty much had to work constantly to keep Tanis with me and comfortable and at the end, she was practically sleeping at the end of the line! A huge new step for Tanis also, was trailer loading! She had always been loaded using a chute, but after a little bit of work, Tanis was loading like a champ. (See video below)
After the clinic, Tanis was seen by the farrier and had all four feet trimmed for the first time! She was a little nervous about Daphne (our farrier), but when Daphne pet her on the cheek, she absolutely melted. I’ve never met a horse who loved face pets as much as Tanis! This gorgeous mare will make one stunning pasture pet for someone and her sweet personality will have everyone falling in love with her.

Training Update: Tanis

Training Update: Tanis 

Tanis has turned out to be a sweetheart of a horse! We were a little worried when we got her that she may be pushy or even possibly aggressive since she seemed very treat focused, but so far she hasn’t tried to bite at all and seems content to receive pets and scratches on her terms. I spent quite a while working on the serious dreadlocks in her mane and Tanis was practically asleep by the time I got them all out. She definitely seems happy to be pampered. Tanis is on her way to healthy, but it’ll be a bit of time before she’s there. Her rain rot is almost cleared, her lice is almost gone, and her first dose of dewormer is doing its job. She’s looking better and better every day!

One big last step to help us get her healthy is to get her haltered and gentle. After that, we’ll be able to get her feet trimmed, get her vaccinated, and get her teeth done (though she definitely has no problems eating right now!). Last Friday I was able to get her roped and get a halter on her. She gives pretty easily to pressure and has politely following me around without the halter, so after I got it on, things went pretty smoothly! Getting the nose band up on Tanis’s big nose was a little tricky, but thankfully, as soon as it was on, she looked at me like, “oh that was it? I can do that!”. I’m excited to keep working with her and giving her the TLC she so deserves. 

Meet Tanis and Nico!

Meet Tanis and Nico! 

Introducing our newest herd members, Tanis and Nico. Recently, a woman in her 80s passed away leaving 14 dogs, a horse, a friendly cat, and several fixed feral cats. SAFE was contacted to help with the horse. Working with a local small animal rescue, JustCare Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, who has been working tirelessly to help all of these animals, we made a plan and set out to pick the horse up. When we arrived she was in a pasture with a gelding who had a lot of nasal discharge and both horses were coughing. Both are covered in rain rot and full of lice. We asked if the current resident would let us also load the gelding, and that’s how we brought home a bonus horse!
Tanis is a mid-teen roan BLM Mustang from the Hog Creek Herd in Eastern Oregon. Her adopter bought her for her granddaughter and she lived on a property for the past 12 years with little to no handling. We suspect the rope around her neck is the BLM tag rope put on her at the time of her round-up, but that is not confirmed. It was a very strong rope to cut off, but Tanis was kind enough to let us do so shortly after her arrival at SAFE. At some point, we will try and shave her brand to see if we can read it and gather more information about her age and year of round-up. She is pushy and knows what treats are, but only goes where she wants to and does what she wants.
Nico is a sweet Buckskin gelding in his senior years.  He may also be BLM with some signs of a freeze brand under all that long hair. He is very sick with lots of nasal discharge, so we stopped on our way home to Rainland and were able to get a nasal swab to send out for testing. He has a good appetite and hopefully, with some much-needed TLC, he will feel 100% better in the weeks to come.

Watch Tanis and Nico when they first arrived at SAFE in the video below.