description: buckskin mare
type of rescue: owner surrender
intake date: 2/3/2007
adoption date: 5/16/2009
length of time with SAFE: 2 years, 9 months
Aired Sunday, September 29, 2019 on 5 Entercom radio stations in Seattle
POSTED 9:59 AM, SEPTEMBER 10, 2019
Link to article on Q13 website: https://q13fox.com/2019/09/10/lime-light-pet-project-meet-lacey/
SEATTLE — If you love horses- and are looking for one- this gorgeous mare may be the one for you.
Q13 is partnering with the LimeLight Pet Project to help get Lacey adopted.
She is a five-year-old mustang looking for someone who to love her and that’s dedicated to earning her trust.
“She loves going out on trails,” Director of SAFE Horse Rescue Operations Terry Phelps said.
“She’s pretty brave she does jump. She looks pretty up in a frame so even somebody doing English with her would be good.”
Lacey came to SAFE Horse Rescue about three years ago from a home that wasn’t able to give her enough to eat.
Lacey is in good spirits now, but workers at the rescue say she is best suited with someone experienced.
“She’s not a kid’s horse yet,” Phelps said. “But she’s really close. She had some behavioral stuff when she came in; she was quite young and untrained.”
A shorter rider may be best for Lacey- she’s small but stout, standing 13-three hands.
Lacey also packs a lot of personality; she has an opinion and isn’t afraid to show it.
Lacey is a dominant mare, so if you have other horses, she is best kept on her own or with another horse that doesn’t mind letting her take the lead.
If you think Lacey would be a good fit for you, head to safehorses.org and fill out an application.
Under guise of nonprofit caring for rescued horses, allegations of animal cruelty arose.
By Aaron Kunkler and Ashley Hiruko
Friday, September 6, 2019 8:30am
No one really knows how many horses Sharon Hunter has. Hunter, who owns and operates the Hunters Wind Wild Horse Rescue, had as many as 120 horses in two separate herds at one time. She stowed them on properties in Puget Sound counties.
Hunter’s Redmond-based nonprofit was founded in 2015, with just more than a dozen rescued horses from the Yakama Nation reservation in Eastern Washington. Since then, several of her horses have been seized by authorities alleging neglect in three counties, and in two counties horses have been euthanized. Horse advocates believe she may have more.
The nonprofit’s impact can be felt beyond the mossy pastures of King, Snohomish and Pierce counties. It stretches across the country to horse rescues in the Louisiana flatlands and in the dusty kill pens of Texas — the last stop for unwanted horses before slaughter.
Whether Hunter’s nonprofit is a net positive depends on who you ask.
(When contacted by phone for this story, Hunter hung up. She did not answer a follow-up phone call and an email received no reply. The civil attorney representing Hunter has not returned a request for comment as of the Reporter’s deadline.)
A good start
Hunter originally appeared in pages of the Redmond Reporter in 2015, when she started rescuing horses with her daughter Brandelyn and her son-in-law Joe Tafoya. Hunter’s family had been rescuing horses for about two decades and in 2015, Hunter took in 13 wild horses from the Yakama Nation reservation.
Before they were rescued, the horses were slated to be shipped abroad — either to Canada or Mexico — and slaughtered for their meat, Hunter said. And the conditions the horses faced in the industry’s kill pens were horrific. While Hunter was originally planning to take in two horses, she ended up rescuing 13.
The horses arrived in generally poor shape, and the family said they provided medical care. Two mares arrived pregnant, but one of the colts didn’t survive. It had been born with too many health problems, Hunter said.
“He had lots of love,” she said in 2015. “We named him Black Beauty.”
Hunter’s plan at the time was to rescue, rehabilitate and release the horses. She said she was working on securing a 14,000-acre plot of land in Oregon for a horse sanctuary. Joe Tafoya was trying to get Washington state to permenantly end horse slaughter and close the kill pen industry pipelines.
But at some point in the last four years, the relationship between the Tafoyas and Hunter soured and the herd multiplied. Joe Tafoya said he and his wife no longer have regular contact with Hunter.
“My wife and I continue to rescue horses on our own privately. When [the Reporter published] the article, Sharon had actually just brought those 13 horses on my property and we were trying to get involved to help. Shortly after, we figured out that we wouldn’t be able to help or work with her,” Joe Tafoya said in an email.
By 2019, Hunter’s herd had swelled in size to at least 120, with known herds at a spot in Snohomish County and one in Auburn. Another was in Fall City this summer, before being relocated to Enumclaw. At least one cluster was in Pierce County. Court documents from King and Snohomish counties indicate that several of the horses also were purchased from kill pens before they could be slaughtered abroad.
Far from the Pacific Northwest, Angels Grove Ranch sits in the wooded southeast of Louisiana — about an hour’s drive north of New Orleans, across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Court documents show that Hunter had boarded 10 horses with Lisa Massimini’s Angels Grove Ranch and Horse Rescue.
Massimini said horses she boarded, belonging to Hunter, were brought over by someone previously boarding them in Texas.
An investigation report from King County stated that a detective contacted Massimini, who said Hunter had made a down payment for boarding and care of the horses in August 2017. Between that time and the end of January 2018, she said she hadn’t received any additional payments during the five months of care. Eventually, Hunter paid the boarding fees and the horses were picked up by a hauler from her Louisiana ranch.
“I don’t really know where they went after me,” Massimini said.
Several of Hunter’s horses originally came from the south, and in particular Louisiana and Texas. Both states have notable horse kill pens that funnel horses to be slaughtered abroad. The U.S. essentially outlawed the practice of slaughtering horses about 12 years ago when the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual funding to inspect domestic horse slaughter facilities was cut. The soft ban requires annual approval from Congress, which has been renewed each year except two.
The soft ban basically prohibits the USDA from inspecting horse processing plants, and meat can’t cross state lines without the inspections. But instead of ending horse slaughter, it simply created an industry known as kill buying — where buyers pick up unwanted horses and ship them to either Canada or Mexico. Across the border, they are slaughtered for meat.
Many of Hunter’s horses may have been bought with the intention of saving them from kill buyers, including the ones Hunter seemed to have purchased and then boarded at Massimini’s rescue. Snohomish County court documents list some of Hunter’s horses as coming from Bastrop, Louisiana, home to what Massimini called a notable kill lot.
“Really if you want to dig deep … It’s people like Sharon that are trying to get horses so they don’t cross the border and they don’t die,’” Massimini said.
However, Massimini said she was unaware of what Hunter did with the horses in Washington state, or how the herd Massimini boarded was treated when they left her care.
Craig Downer runs The Wild Horse Conspiracy, a Nevada-based organization focused on preserving wild American horse lineages. Downer wrote a message in support of Hunters Wind Wild Horse Rescue on Facebook, which was shared by the rescue.
When contacted by the Reporter, Downer said he hadn’t seen the herd in person, but was particularly interested in the Yakima horse lineage. Proper breeding, he said, was essential to preserve the herd’s genetics. Downer said he learned of Hunter’s rescue after she reached out to him on social media some years ago.
“I don’t claim to really know for sure,” Downer said. “Her heart seemed to be really for the horses… that was like No. 1, and (she was) willing to sacrifice her own comforts and money and everything to help these horses. I do believe that.”
The Humane Society tracks horses that pass through kill pens to be slaughtered abroad. In 2018, about 80,000 horses met that fate, with most heading to Mexico, said spokesperson Keith Dane. A horse can fetch some money, but mostly nets less than $1,000 a head from a slaughterhouse.
Kill pen operators often market the horses to concerned horse owners and rescues before shipping them off. Kill pen operators give people an ultimatum: buy the horse or let it get packed onto a crowded truck and slaughtered abroad for a profit.
While the low price for a horse sent to slaughter means it’s not a terribly lucrative industry, about a dozen large operations exist, Dane said. Smaller operators are working across the country too.
“The Midwest is sort of like the epicenter of where these kill pens are located,” he said.
The Humane Society supports the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, which if passed by Congress, would permanently outlaw horse slaughter in the United States and prohibit shipping horses abroad to be slaughtered. Dane argued that horses currently slated for slaughter could find homes in the United States. Dane points to the fact that in 2012, about 160,000 horses were being shipped to slaughter, twice as many as last year. If the United States could handle those 80,000 horses, it could provide for the other half, he said.
Other groups, such as the Animal Welfare Council, have penned opinion pieces questioning whether laws like the Safeguard American Food Exports Act would help.
“Surely swift humane euthanasia at a [government] regulated and inspected processing plant is a kinder end than starving to death,” the council wrote on its website.
It’s worth noting, however, that both Massimini and Downer said they were unaware of the felony animal cruelty charges Hunter is facing in King and Snohomish counties (as many as 10 charges). Pierce County also has an active investigation looking into Hunter.
On Feb. 5, 2018, Snohomish County Animal Services received a complaint about six troubled horses located on a property off of 153rd Avenue Southeast, about halfway between Maltby and Duvall. The report was made by the daughter of landowners who said they were approached by Hunter to board and lease at their pasture and barn. At first, two miniature horses and two full-size horses were brought to the property in January 2018.
The landowner had concerns about the animals’ health and asked Hunter to have a veterinarian visit. Court documents allege Hunter failed to do so. Animal control services obtained a search warrant, which allowed a veterinarian to examine the then six horses alongside law enforcement.
One pony named Lil Patches was found lying in his own feces and urine, unable to stand. The black-and-white pony was severely underweight and had chronic, untreated laminitis (an inflammation of the foot). The pony only stood on his own after receiving pain medicine.
Snohomish County seized Lil Patches, along with Miracle, a quarter horse mare with an untreated old wound that developed excessive tissue and blood vessels. Authorities also took Goldie, a palomino mare who was also severely underweight. It appeared Goldie was anemic and had a skin infection covering her entire body. These horses needed immediate medical attention, according to Snohomish County District Court documents.
The other three horses — Warrior, Willow and Princess — were in somewhat better shape and stayed on the property.
Snohomish County Animal Services manager Debby Zins said one horse was euthanized because of her condition. Another of the seized horses was initially rehabilitated and adopted out, but wound up being euthanized too. Only the third seized horse is still alive.
After the Snohomish County action, Hunter disappeared with her remaining three horses, moving them off the property to an unknown location, Zins said. The Snohomish County horses were originally moved to the 153rd Avenue site to avoid scrutiny from King County law enforcement, following a civil citation for animal cruelty, she added.
“We encourage anyone who knows where she is keeping horses, or if anyone has any of her horses or is concerned for her horses’ care, to please reach out to their local animal control agency,” Zins wrote in an email.
Later that month, Hunter was charged with six counts of second-degree animal cruelty in Snohomish County. If convicted, the felony counts would bar her from owning horses for a length of time determined by a judge. Her trial is scheduled for this month, but a continuance is possible.
Zins said she believes Hunter’s horse-centered nonprofit doesn’t function like others, in which horses are rehabilitated and then adopted out. Zins is only aware of Hunter collecting horses.
“Sharon Hunter is horse hoarding. Hoarding cases are complex and it is very difficult to break that cycle. She appears to be dedicated to her purpose, but is ill equipped to care for the animals and as a result many horses are neglected and suffering,” Zins wrote.
King and Pierce county horses
Tim Anderson, lead animal control sergeant for Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC), has been investigating Hunter’s Auburn herd of about 80 animals. The herd is in addition to another, known as the Fall City 40, which was moved to Enumclaw, and the Snohomish herd.
On Aug. 2, King County investigators moved in to inspect the Auburn herd, housed on a roughly 17-acre property. Four horses were ultimately seized.
Following that, Anderson said four civil notices of violation were issued on Aug. 17 for $500 each. The citations acted as the basis of four counts of second-degree animal cruelty charges recommended to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office on Sept. 1, Anderson said. However, the Reporter was not able to confirm those charges at the time of publication with the county prosecutor. If the charges are confirmed, it would bring the total number of felony charges Hunter is facing to 10.
In addition, Anderson said, a separate notice King County served Hunter on Aug. 17 would bar her from possessing horses within county lines for four years. She has about a month to comply or appeal. If not, Hunter could be fined $1,000 per day, per horse that is found in King County.
“She certainly has a lot of horses, more horses than she appears to be able to care for,” Anderson said.
The Auburn herd has dwindled to 65 from its peak of 80 after RASKC seized several horses and others were relocated to other properties. One of the horses was euthanized.
The pastures of the Auburn property have turned to dirt, due to the 65 horses housed on about 17 acres. Horses generally require between one to two acres per animal, according to Stable Management, an equine professional resource.
At the Auburn site, the horses are separated by sex and type, and within the last few weeks the property owner has begun supplementing and eventually fully feeding the horses. Many of the horses have cracked or chipped hooves and are in need of farrier services, dental work, de-worming and general vet care.
The Auburn property owner, who asked to remain anonymous due to fears of compromising ongoing legal matters, said Hunter had originally asked to pay rent and board for 12 horses on the property during spring 2018, a number that steadily ballooned to more than 80 by earlier this year. She said Hunter has intermittently provided the horses with food, but not enough to fully feed the large herd. Little headway has been made on relocating the horses, the property owner added.
“She has not adopted one horse out during the whole time,” she said. “When she starts getting in trouble she starts moving them around.”
Bonnie Hammond, executive director of the Redmond-based nonprofit Save A Forgotten Equine (SAFE), said they were willing to step in if the horses were declared abandoned, following a 15-day waiting period. However, on Sept. 3, the property owner said that Hunter was planning on removing the horses over the following days. During a phone interview with the property owner on Sept. 3, more King County animal control officers were onsite inspecting another horse that appeared malnourished.
While they can inspect, there’s little animal control can do under existing state or local laws to prevent someone from owning an abundance of horses. Law enforcement can only get involved when there are reports of animal cruelty or neglect, as animal control agencies in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties allege is the case with Hunter.
Owning too many horses comes with financial and time burdens. For example, SAFE’s program only accepts 30 horses at a time. And to care for that many horses the nonprofit requires 140 volunteers, five paid staff and a budget of about $650,000 each year, Hammond said.
SAFE has been involved in stepping in to care for several of Hunter’s herds, including the one in Auburn.
“Horses are hard to take care of and you need a lot of people, a lot of money, a lot of resources to properly take care of large groups of horses,” Hammond said.
In Pierce County, Animal Control supervisor Brian Boman said four horses were seized. Details are scarce during the ongoing investigation, but they are also Hunter’s horses.
Fall City 40
The Fall City 40 herd grew from the group of 13 wild horses previously housed just east of Redmond in 2015. At some point afterward, the horses relocated to the Johann family property in Fall City, a small town west of Snoqualmie. Jamie Johann-Barney is the daughter of the aging property owners, and said Hunter initially approached them by walking up their driveway and asking if they could board horses there.
Johann-Barney said the horses weren’t properly cared for and says her parents lost significant amounts of money boarding the horses. In June, she and others staged what Johann-Barney called an intervention, asking her father to get rid of the horses.
Law enforcement wouldn’t intervene, she said. Officers told them that since the family initially agreed to board the horses without a contract, it was a civil matter. SAFE, which later got involved, said the horses were allowed to breed freely, were not being fed, not receiving veterinarian or farrier care and not being adopted out.
“It was horrible,” Johann-Barney said.
According to SAFE’s website, the Johanns wanted the horses gone, but Hunter wouldn’t remove them. The Johanns sent a notice to Hunter in June saying she had 15 days to remove the horses or they would be considered abandoned. When the horses weren’t removed, the Johanns contacted SAFE, which helped get the horses healthy and assisted in their adoption.
The nonprofit provided hay, photographed and cataloged the herd, and tried to attract adopters, according to a post on the organization’s website that was also confirmed by Hammond.
Of the 40 horses, 15 were adopted out to new owners. But then an attorney representing Hunter served the Johanns with a cease and desist letter, demanding they stop trying to adopt out the horses. Hunter was also seeking to reclaim the horses in the letter. In the face of a possible lawsuit, the property owners decided to let Hunter remove the remaining 25 horses. Hunter also sent SAFE a similar letter demanding the 15 horses back that had been adopted. SAFE declined.
The remaining 25 from the herd were moved to another location, likely in Enumclaw, Hammond said.
“The truth is that she’s got groups of horses that she’s just shuffling from one place to another. Either she gets thrown off a property, or law enforcement’s getting too close or what have you,” Hammond said. “She’ll tell stories about saving America’s wild horses and all this really romantic stuff. But in truth, she’s just stockpiling them and they sit and they fight with each other and the stallions breed with the mares.”
Hammond was clear in what she would like to see happen.
“I would like her to stop acquiring horses,” Hammond said. “She needs to stop doing this and the scary thing is, there’s still plenty of horses out there. She could get them from the auctions by the truckload.”
A hard question
The situation presents a complex question: Is it better to let a horse bound for slaughter to die, or be adopted by individuals or organizations that are not fully equipped to care for the animals?
On the Auction Horses website, a plea is made. The message stands out from the rest of the content. Written in a bold font, in red letters at the top of the website, it reads: “Please NO fundraising for the purchase of horses.”
For Auction Horses, a Washington- and Oregon-based network of people who work to prevent the auction and slaughter of the animals, the message is an important one for the betterment of the animals, advocates say.
“People think, ‘Oh I’d like to give $20 to this good cause’…but if they don’t know where the horse is going and don’t know the person or their resources available to take care of the horses, they have no idea of the kind of situation they’re contributing to,” said Tash Johnson with Auction Horses.
Caring for a horse is a heavy endeavor. Costs are typically in the hundreds per month, and if the animals aren’t fed enough and their feet trimmed every six to eight weeks, horse health can decline.
“If you have 120 horses and you’re trying to feed them and take care of them, it’s an incredibly difficult task,” Johnson said. “Even taking care of them with staff.”
And things can get much worse in the winter, she said, when horses need extra food in order to stay warm and rain turns their pastures into mud pits. Attempting to move large bales of hay — generally 50 and 100 pounds each — becomes difficult in the rain, and hooves not properly cared for can become infected from feces on the ground.
“That’s what happens to neglected horses in Western Washington,” Johnson said.
She learned of Hunter when she relocated some of her horses to Redmond. Johnson’s horses stayed on a property nearby. Johnson said seeing a herd of horses with intact stallions and no separation from mares raised red flags.
When the man whose property Hunter’s horses were staying on started asking for help on the Auction Horses website, the red flags turned into “full-scale alarm,” Johnson said.
But she said having animals shipped off to slaughter is an “absolute failure.”
Johnson has seen every kind of horse end up on feedlots, the final stop before the slaughter: Champion horses sold when the summer ends by owners avoiding financial support during the winter; trail horses; best-of-the-best show horses; brut mares that could no longer get pregnant; ponies and draft horses and even young, healthy horses that went untrained.
She said the best practice for those concerned about the animals’ well being is to prevent them from getting to pens in the first place. Once there, the horses can become injured as they are mingling with dozens of other animals. And illness is brought in from different places. Johnson described the transportation of horses to slaughter, the way they’re handled, loaded into crowded vehicles and the slaughter pipeline as “horrific.”
“Rescue horses from Craigslist or posted on feed boards,” she said. “Save them before the kill pens. Once they’re in the kill pen, if there’s a good home for them, by all means save them. But if there isn’t, honestly, I would rather see them go to slaughter than suffer.”
Redmond Rescue Organization Fighting to Save Equestrian Lives
Originally published April 21, 2017
By Kim Shepard, Redmond Reporter
When local animal rescue agencies find puppy mills it can fill up most of a shelter. But when the animals being rescued weigh thousands of pounds, it’s what you might call a horse of a different color.
Bonnie Hammond started SAFE equine rescue about 10 years ago. At first, she and a friend were rescuing horses being sold at feed lots. But, that wasn’t really getting to the root of the problem.
They wanted to stop the horses from getting into the slaughter pipeline in the first place, so they started working directly with animal control agencies in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties.
“We want to be as supportive as we can and as available as we can so that when they see a situation where seizing a horse and prosecuting the owner for cruelty is warranted, that they’re as likely and encouraged to do so,” she said.
Just a few months ago, SAFE found a new, bigger home on the outskirts of Redmond. The new space allows them to care for up to 28 animals.
But for SAFE, getting abused and neglected horses back to health is just the first step. They want to prepare the animals to be good “horse citizens” as Bonnie describes it. One of their recent success stories is Anderson, a chestnut Arabian stallion who had been abandoned in a field with a mare for so long the gates had rusted shut.
Bonnie says it took a professional trainer several hours just to get a halter on Anderson.
“That stallion was so feral and so wild that he immediately went into the you-are-not-taking-my-mare mode.”
After being gelded, and getting just a few months of care and training, Anderson is now ready for adoption.
“He transformed from this wild and crazy thing to an absolute sweetheart.”
Not all of SAFE’s stories turn out so well. Last week, they got a call about a woman who wanted to voluntarily surrender her horse because she couldn’t care for it any longer.
“We were shocked at what we saw,” Hammond said. “The horse was extremely thin — hip bones protruding all her ribs, her shoulders. In addition to that, she had a breathing condition [that was] causing her to literally heave and struggle to take every breath.”
They immediately took the mare to a vet and began daily treatment for the breathing condition, hoping they wouldn’t have to turn to euthanasia. On Monday, as they came to check on her, they discovered she was unable to fight any longer.
“In some way, she saved us from having to make that choice by leaving on her own…” Hammond said.
Just a few days after they lost that horse, two more were being brought in to take her place from a Quarter Horse breeding operation in Snohomish County.
“They’re both actually beautiful horses, very well bred,” Hammond said.
She says careless breeding practices are one of the biggest reasons SAFE exists. Because mares almost never get spayed they’re always fertile, and it takes just one ungelded male to do a whole lot of damage.
“And I don’t know what it is, but we deal with people who really shouldn’t own horses — they’re starving them or neglecting them — and for some bizarre reason a huge percentage of them have stallions.”
SAFE is holding their very first open house at their new home in Redmond on Sunday with a “Hunger Games” theme.
“Horses hunger for more than just food. They hunger for kindness. They hunger for safety. They hunger for friends,” Hammond said. “The work we do, we don’t do it in a vacuum. It’s done by a community of people. And so working together we can end hunger and get these horses on their way to better lives.”
Playing it SAFE around horses: Equine rescue organization moves to Redmond
Originally published April 13, 2017
By Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter
When Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE) first started in 2005, it wasn’t even an official organization.
It was originally just a group of people who pooled their money together to rescue a horse off of a feed lot. Those efforts snowballed into a nonprofit organization focused on rescuing horses that have been abused, neglected or starved. The organization also takes in horses in desperate situations such as when their owners are no longer able to care for them.
For many years, those horses would be taken to SAFE’s rescue location in Monroe and for the last five years, Woodinville. But since February, the horses have been taken to SAFE’s new location at Safe Harbor Stables, 10407 192nd Ave. N.E. in Redmond.
“We’re new in the neighborhood,” said founder and executive director Bonnie Hammond, noting that with Farrel-McWhirter Farm Park and Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center nearby, they are not the only equine-related neighbors in the area.
The move to Redmond took SAFE from a three-acre property to an 11-acre property.
“It’s a really nice space for us,” Hammond said, adding that they have signed a five-year lease with the option to renew for another 10 years after that.
SAFE will hold an open house from noon to 3 p.m. on April 23 at Safe Harbor. According to a SAFE press release, they will be celebrating ASPCA Help a Horse Day, a nationwide competition for equine rescues to raise awareness about the work they do year-round to care for at-risk horses in their communities.
A SAFE PLACE FOR THE HURT AND NEGLECTED
Hammond said when they bring horses into their rescue, they work to rehabilitate and train, or retrain, them to become riding horses. SAFE also works to place the horses into new permanent homes.
Hammond said the organization works with animal control agencies in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.
“They can go in when a law is being broken or an animal is being mistreated,” she said.
If the agencies do not have somewhere to place the horse, which is almost always the case, Hammond said they will sign the animal over to SAFE. She said by taking in the horses the animal control agencies seizes, SAFE allows them to do their jobs as the agencies will not remove a horse from a site unless they are able to place them somewhere.
The horses SAFE takes in have experienced some form of neglect. Hammond said this can range from a lack of food to insufficient medical care.
When a horse has been starved, she said they have to be careful and begin refeeding it with small amounts of soaked hay every two hours to make sure its stomach can handle the food. For horses needing medical attention, Hammond said they work with local veterinarians who check the horses for injuries and illnesses and get them stabilized.
GETTING HUMANS BACK ON THE HORSES
Depending on the condition a horse is in when it arrives at SAFE, Hammond said it can take anywhere between two and three months to get a horse back up to a healthy weight. During this time, they get to know the animal and figure out how much it knows when it comes to being ridden.
“Training is a big part of what SAFE does,” Hammond said.
She said they teach the horses manners and handling skills so they are able to coexist around people. This lays the groundwork to prepare them to go under saddle, Hammond said.
While SAFE works with a trainer in Ellensburg to get their horses ready for their permanent homes, they also have a volunteer rider program.
According to the press release, members of the community work together to help the horses and volunteers provide daily care for as many as 25 horses at a time. Volunteers work in teams to feed and care for the horses. They are assigned to a weekly chore shift that lasts about three to four hours. Currently, the release states, there are several openings in the schedule that need to be filled, including weekday morning and afternoon shifts, as well as weekends.
“Seeing the life come back into the eyes of a horse that’s been abused or neglected is a magical thing,” Hammond said in the release. “It makes it all worthwhile. SAFE takes in horses that have survived horrible situations and gives them their lives back. The volunteers at SAFE all play a part in their transformation by proving the horses with clean stalls, fresh hay and most of all, the love and acceptance that each horse craves so much.”
Anyone interested in getting involved as a volunteer at SAFE can contact their volunteer manager at volun firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.safehorses.org to fill out a volunteer application. Volunteer orientations are usually held twice a month and all volunteers receive training. Prior experience working with and around horses is a plus, but not a requirement, according to the release.
FINDING FOREVER HOMES
The majority of the horses SAFE rescues are at Safe Harbor, but Hammond said they do place horses in foster homes from time to time as they work to find forever homes for the horses.
She likened the process of placing horses into their permanent homes to matchmaking as they have to make sure the horses and humans they are paired up with fit well together. Sometimes, it takes a few years to find the right match.
Before placing a horse, Hammond said the prospective adopters come out to meet the horse a few times and ride the horse. SAFE also does a site check of where the horse will potentially live and check adopters’ references. There is also a 30-day trial period for adopters to see if the horse they have adopted is a good match.
“We’ll take (the horses) back into our program (if it is not a fit),” Hammond said.
She said SAFE has a cap of 28 horses. This includes the horses at Safe Harbor as well as in foster homes. The only caveat they have is if an animal control agency needs their help and they have the funding to go over the cap.
“It’s a lot of responsibility to own a horse,” Hammond said.
A Home for Every Horse (AHFEH) traveled to Woodinville, Washington in June of 2016 to visit Save A Forgotten Equine (SAFE) to create videos highlighting all of the hard work rescues are doing inside of the Equine industry.
Anakin is a rescue horse that has a story that pulls on your heart strings. Learn about Anakin, and meet his adopter providing him a forever home.
Intake for a Shelter Horse:
While we were at SAFE, Stevie was brought in, and Gina from Purina helped SAFE evaluate him and start the proper feed plan.
A Home for Every Horse Visits Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE)
published June 28, 2016
written by Mariah Hammerschmidt
In mid-June, A Home for Every Horse (AHFEH) and AIM Studios traveled to Woodinville, Washington to visit Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE). This is the first in our series of rescue visits to highlight all of the hard work rescues are doing inside of the Equine industry. SAFE is a rescue dedicated to saving horses from dire situations and rehabilitating them, so they can find forever homes. SAFE has a huge focus on the community around the rescue, without the community SAFE would not be able to find, rehabilitate and place as many horses.
While in Washington, A Home for Every Horse representative Mariah Hammerschmidt was met by Purina’s Amy Margolin and Gina Fresquez to help build the already thriving feed program at SAFE. A comprehensive feed program is extremely important for equine rescues, as horses come in from many stages of life and many different situations. Luckily, Purina is here to help, by providing rescues with the feed they need to help horses.
During AHFEH’s visit to SAFE we had the opportunity to meet a horse named Anakin. Anakin spent twelve years of his life working in the Equine Research lab at Cal Poly Pomona, where he participated in studies on biomechanics, locomotion and the effects of high altitude. After the program was shut down in 2010, Anakin found a new home. Unfortunately, he was found six years later starving in a field in Washington State. To get Anakin to SAFE, he had to be aided with a hoist and sling, as he could no longer stand. Anakin showed his strength and fight as many weeks later he began to stand on his own. He eventually made a full recovery. During AHFEH’s visit, Anakin’s story came full circle and was adopted. He will live out the rest of his days being a companion horse with acres of green pasture, joining other companion-only horses that his new home had adopted.
A Home for Every Horse plans on visiting rescues throughout the year to bring awareness to the work they do every day: helping find forever homes for the over 170,000 unwanted horses. As part of the recognition of the hard and compassionate work done by SAFE, Purina helped educate SAFE about proper nutrition for horses in both rehabilitation stages, as well as maintenance. Other sponsors of A Home for Every Horse presented the rescue with some horse-care gifts. This includes a Tractor Supply Company gift card, discounts on Electrobraid Fencing, a new WeatherBeeta blanket and twelve tubes of Zoetis Strongid paste. Each sponsor is key in assisting SAFE with rescuing more horses and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for those horses still at the rescue.
If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.
This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter. Here’s how it works: • Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.
• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.
• Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.
If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467‑7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.
Bonnie Hammond is the executive director and co-founder of a very special organization called Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE) in Woodinville, WA. SAFE’s mission is “To rescue, rehabilitate, and retrain horses facing neglect or abuse and provide them with the best opportunity for a permanent home and a lifetime of safety.” This is an extremely challenging but rewarding goal that can make a huge impact on both the lives of the horses and those caring for them. Read on to learn the top 5 reasons why you should consider adopting a rescue horse.
Keeping Horses Off of the Slaughter Trailer
SAFE started with an online group who wanted to work together to raise money and rescue a single horse from a Washington slaughter pen. After six months of successfully rescuing this one horse and several others, the group realized that they could do more for the animals by actually providing rehabilitation and retraining. SAFE was formed in November 2005. Over the years, SAFE has helped many horses in the local area. Still, they remain a small organization taking only 27 horses at a time. They operate on a shoestring budget and greatly depend on donations and volunteers.
Rehabilitate, Retrain, and Re-home Good Equine Citizens
The focus of SAFE is to not only rescue these abused, neglected and unwanted horses, but also to make sure that they are healthy and well-trained equines that can safely go to a new “forever home.” Horses that come to SAFE come from animal control seizures, or from owners who can no longer afford to care for their animals. The horses that are in the most desperate situation are sometimes taken to Northwest Equine Stewardship Center (NWESC) where they receive specialized veterinary care and observation from Dr. Hannah Mueller and her staff.
Once the horses are stable and eating normally, they will leave the center and begin the process of retraining. “In order to get horses ready to be adopted, we want to create what we call a “good equine citizen.” A good equine citizen is a horse that is safe to handle and a horse that can do the basic skills.” This means they have good ground manners and know how to behave for the farrier, vet visits, baths, fly spray, or allow themselves to be caught in the pasture. This training is extremely important.
Trailer training is a big part of that.” she continued. “If you have an emergency situation in which you need to get horses in and out of where they are, you don’t want to have to deal with a horse that refuses to load.” One of SAFE’s trainers, Terry Phelps, said, “Actually a lot of what I use to help the SAFE horses overcome their trailer fears has roots in Natural Horsemanship. Most are truly afraid of that big box and it takes patience and a willingness to work through it at their pace for it to succeed.”
The horses also receive under saddle training and are worked to the point that they can easily handle walk, trot, and canter under saddle. This includes exposure to trail riding. From here, they are ready to undergo more specialized training including disciplines like jumping or even dressage. Regular updates and videos on each horse’s training progress are available on their website for potential adopters to view in advance.
Two Success Stories: Owen the Untouchable Stallion and Delilah the Dressage Champion
Bonnie shared her personal account of two special horses at the SAFE rescue center. One is Owen, an Curly Horse stallion who was going to be put down by his owner because she had lost her property. “He was six years old and he was untouchable. He didn’t wear a halter and he didn’t want to let anyone near him.” Bonnie feels strongly that “not providing training for a horse really ought to be considered a form of abuse as well. Horses are too big and too dangerous to grown into full sized animals to not know how to walk on a lead line or put a halter on.”
Over the last six months, Owen has blossomed under SAFE’s care. “He is an amazing horse! He is one of the smartest horses I’ve ever met. He has this way of reasoning out problems and thinking through things that are scary.” Once he was gelded, he was started on his ground and under saddle training. “He’s going to make someone an absolute treasure!”
A second special story is about a draft-cross named Delilah. She was an animal control seizure who was starved and nine months pregnant when she came to SAFE. After delivering a healthy colt, she was retrained and sold to a lady who is now showing her in 1st Level Dressage where she qualified for the Regional Championships! “To see her out there in the ring among horses that are a lot more expensive, a lot better bred, a lot more carefully brought up, and to see her competing at that level was really amazing.” Bonnie stressed that a big part of their work at SAFE is retraining these horses. “It’s not enough to just save their lives and get them new homes. People want horses that they can do stuff with.”
The Ups and Downs of a Horse Rescue
For Bonnie, her favorite part of working with rescue horses is seeing them “come back to life.” She shared, “We take in horses that are in the most desperate conditions. They’ve been starved. They been neglected and abused. Watching them regain their physical beauty…we get to see the light come back on in their lives…their whole demeanor changes. They start to relax. They start to get that spark and they start to get that glow again. That is hands down the best part of rescuing horses.” She said that horses are animals that don’t forget when they are abused but they are willing to give people another chance and they have a sense for when you are trying to help them. “It inspires me to no end.”
There are many challenges that go along with this operation as well. Bonnie said she is frustrated by the never-ending need for rescue services. “The biggest challenge is that the need never seems to slow down or go away. There are always horses out there that are in bad conditions…It’s a struggle not to let that continual need get me down.” She also cautioned against the over breeding of horses, saying, “Foals are amazing. They’re beyond adorable, but they grow up in to 1200 lb animals that need a lot of care and a lot of space. We end up with so many horses that are unwanted due to backyard breeding.” She said it’s important to have a plan for that foal’s entire life.
As you can imagine, the SAFE operation needs a great deal of equipment to operate their farm and transport their animals. They currently use a three horse trailer to transport their animals, although “one of our wish list items would be to have a trailer that is a little taller inside. Our biggest horses, when put into our current trailer…their ears touch the ceiling.” Also on their wish list, they would love to have a SAFE-owned truck to haul the trailer as well as a custom horse trailer that could be used to haul their two mascot mini-horses to promotional events like parades and school events.
Top 5 Reasons to Adopt from Horse Rescue
That leaves us with the top 5 reasons to adopt a rescue horse:
- Horse rescues really know their horses. If you were to rescue a horse from a slaughter pen, you would have no idea the horses training and natural temperament. It’s much better to rescue a horse from an organization like SAFE where they’ve taken the time to rehabilitate and retrain the animal under saddle and in hand. They know the animal really well and can help you find a really good fit. Videos, photos, and training updates are available on the SAFE website and they are going to be very honest about the horse’s vices so that they can make a good match for horse and rider. Bonnie’s #1 tip is to make sure you take the time to really get to know your potential rescue horse beforehand since these resources are available.
- Free up the space for another horse to be rescued. Bonnie explained, “Adopting a horse with us means that we have the opportunity to help another horse in need.”
- It’s your chance to give back. It is truly a wonderful thing to give back to a horse who has been abused. “We exist to make up for the fact that other humans have mistreated this horse. By rescuing them, it’s our chance to say we’re sorry on behalf of the people who don’t do right by horses,” said Bonnie.
- Not just an inexpensive option. Although rescue horses may be less expensive than other horses for sale, Bonnie cautioned, “The people who make the best adopters are not the people who are looking for a diamond in the rough or looking for an inexpensive option.” Don’t take a rescue horse purely because of selfish or money-saving reasons. Make sure you also want to help this animal to succeed. Bonnie stated, “The very best adopters aren’t thinking ‘what can this horse do for me,’ but ‘what can I do for this horse.’”
- Rescue horses can go on to do great things! Just look at the story of Delilah who became a successful dressage horse. These horses have the potential to be wonderful and talented companions. They may come to the rescue underfed and run down, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have loving hearts and intelligent minds.
Rescue horses can be wonderful companions for many different types of people. Take an active role in your local horse rescue, and you can ensure that these animals have a second chance at life. By adopting one of these animals, you can free up the space for another desperate animal to be brought in for help. We encourage you to find your local rescue operation and get involved to make a difference. For more information about SAFE rescue in Washington state, visit their website at www.safehorses.org.
After donations, sick horse Anakin making steps towards recovery
Originally published February 2, 2016
By Jessica Lee, Seattle Times staff reporter
The story of Thoroughbred Anakin, found neglected in Western Washington in December, spread across the country last month, striking a chord with horse lovers who now can take credit for his recovery.
The 20-year-old gelding was found several hundred pounds underweight, following a celebrated career in equine research years ago at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, or Cal Poly Pomona. The Woodinville horse-rescue nonprofit, Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE), stepped in to care for him, and now caregivers say he’s making significant progress toward health.
Since Anakin’s story surfaced, SAFE Executive Director Bonnie Hammond said donors from Florida to the Midwest came forward to help his cause, providing a little more than $11,000 to help cover veterinary expenses.
“His spirit and his will to live really captures people,” she said. “We are so grateful to the people who reached out and donated because it made it possible to give Anakin the vet care he needed and save his life.”
He stayed at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish County until Jan. 20, when veterinarians deemed him healthy enough to return to SAFE. At the hospital, caregivers focused intensely on getting him to stand on his own, a feat Hammond said he has since conquered.
“He still appears very thin, but he’s improving,” Hammond said. “His personality is starting to come out — he’s starting to have a lot more energy — and he has started to express himself with little bucks and jumps.”
Though Anakin has gained 100 pounds since being found, he still has at least 200 more to go before reaching full weight, Hammond said. Caregivers are giving him food four times a day, medication and walks, expecting him to reach full recovery in about four months, she said.
And once he is there, a home seeking a pasture horse, not one for riding or working, will be able to adopt him, Hammond said.
“We’re hoping to show the world another healthy and vibrant Anakin,” she said. “He would make a great companion.”