description: 2005 white & chestnut pinto are
type of rescue: owner surrender
intake date: 6/1/2010
adoption date: 6/18/2013
length of time with SAFE: 3 years

ADOPTED!! by Karen J of Arlington WA

Zanadu was taken in by SAFE when she was five years old, an unhanded and underfed young mare, surrendered by her owners who were later charged with animal neglect. Restarted under saddle by Andrea Lucianna, Zan became a superstar riding horse — willing, easy, hard working, and so pretty to look at. She competed at several schooling shows in both Dressage and English Pleasure. She even went to the ocean. Through it all, she proved herself to be level-headed, teachable, and fun to ride. But adoption eluded our dear Zan…she came close a few times, but that perfect home never quite appeared. The problem was Zan’s slightly enlarged knee, which we believed to have been caused by an old injury. She’d always been perfectly sound, but we had to caution potential adopters that she could end up facing arthritis and needing joint maintenance, and that uncertainty was enough to scare off potential new homes.

Then we showed her x‑rays to Dr Bryant at Pilchuck Vet Hospital and asked him for an evaluation. He told us that Zan had bone chips in her knee joint, and that she looked to be a good surgical candidate. Thanks to a generous donation from the Adams family, plus matching funds from Microsoft, Zan got the surgery she needed to be sound and comfortable for the rest of her life. It was not too long after Zan’s rehabilitation was complete that an adopter came forward…a woman who had followed Zan’s progress with SAFE for years who was finally ready to adopt a horse. When Karen finally met Zanadu in person for the first time, she cried. Zan is beloved and treasured in her new home, and we are so happy that she has found her person.

Unbridled Joy 

zanadu_04_09_2014Sara, who is SAFE’s Vice President and Adoption Manager, keeps in touch with many of our adopters through Facebook, and a few days ago, she saw this lovely photo, posted by Karen who adopted Zanadu from us. When Sara asked Karen about it, she received this beautiful explanation:

The name Unbridled Joy is actually the working title of a book I have been writing – I started about two years ago. The full title is UNBRIDLED JOY: A life of love, loss and horses. It’s a journal about joy, how I had it, lost it, found it, what gives me joy, horses and some wonky adventures in my life along the way.

The title came to me as I was trying to articulate in my mind how I would try to live my life again after losing my beautiful, brave daughter Heather when she was just one month shy of 36 years old in 2011. She lived her entire life in a wheelchair as a result of birth injuries and was never able to ride horses. I personally believe with all my heart that my angel girl Heather whispered in God’s ear that her Mom could reclaim that joy with a best horse friend. So Heather rides with me now.

It is fitting that the beautiful spot in Eagle Ridge where Zanadu and Raffy now share their forever home with us be called Unbridled Joy. Our neighbor, Bruce Aalmo, constructed the entry from my design with rocks we collected from our land. 

Sara, always so grateful to you and SAFE for making me Zan’s forever Mom.”

This is all we want for any of our horses: the chance to bring someone unbridled joy. Thank you, Karen, for giving Zanadu that opportunity.

Don’t postpone happiness: we have many lovely horses waiting to share your life. Click here to see them all.

Catching up with Zanadu! 

It’s always a happy day when we get an update on Zanadu. We like to think that all of the adopted SAFE horses are loved, but when it comes to Zan, there is no question that she is adored, treasured, and beloved. Karen sent this update:

Zan and I are doing spectactularly well! She is a delight and quite the character.

Zanadu is such a wonderful girl — I saw that in her from the moment we met. I believe there was divine intervention in us finding each other. She had had several unsuccessful adoptions before she became Zanadu Johnson, and Sara told me that she thinks Zan was just waiting for me. She is learning to trust and to let her sweet nature show through, and I tell her every day that she has found her forever home, and I will always love and care for her, and protect her. Oh, and the singing part – I sing to her every day (she’s partial to vintage Motown). She’s sassy and independent and curious – I call her Dora the Explorer. Come to think of it, those are my qualities too!

Attached are some recent photos – one taken in front of our home for a neighborhood ride, one of her at our very first trail ride (eleven miles and she did an amazing job, I was so proud of us both!), and a picture of her Christmas ‘stocking’ that I made. She was a good pony so Santa filled her stocking with carrots! On Christmas day, my precious ponies had warm oatmeal with raw sugar and apples.

I have to laugh because she and Raffy, my special needs Arabian boy, LOOOVE to roll in the mud. And always after brushing. I showed Zan the SAFE stall plaque that I keep in my tack room so she could see how beautiful and clean her little self can be.

Also, if you and Sara, Debi, Brittany, or any of my other friends at SAFE have 18 minutes [yes, really] to spare, here’s a link to the YouTube video I posted after the pre-Christmas snow. I’m sure you have never seen any other video of Ponies in the Snow ha ha.

While I will apologize for the lack of editing, and some shakey cam stuff, I refuse to apologize for all the cooing and laughing and kissy noises that I made for all those minutes. And oh, yeah, the ‘pocket cam video’ at about 14:00 for 90 seconds while I used both hands to feed the ponies apples – audio but no video!

Zanadu — Adopted!! 

Zan and Karen

Zan and Karen

A very dear and special SAFE horse was just officially adopted, and we could not be happier about this match. Congratulations to Karen on your adoption of Zanadu!

Karen originally contacted SAFE in October of 2012. She was interested in Zan, but open to other horses. She wasn’t quite ready to adopt at the time, just starting to think about it. She and her husband had put an offer in a property, but the deal fell through. In January, she contacted us again. They had just purchased a property and she was still interested in Zan but had a barn and fencing to construct. Zan was on rest from her knee surgery in December. Fencing and barn were complete right about the time Zan was ready to start meeting potential adopters. Having shown Zan to dozens of potential adopters, we were cautiously optimistic. Karen, having been waiting to meet Zan for nearly 6 months, cried when she saw her “in person” for the first time.

Zan and Raffy

Zan and Raffy

Zan has made herself right at home in the beautiful barn and pasture Karen constructed just for her. And Karen sings to her every day! Zan also has a new best friend, an older gelding named Raffy.

Welcome home, Zan!! 

Today, Zanadu completed her 30 days of post-op rehab care at Northwest Equine Stewardship Center. She returned to SAFE Harbor Stables this afternoon, where she was greeted with enthusiastic whinnying from all of her friends. Zan still has a long road to recovery but is making progress. She is now up to 30 minutes of handwalking per day, and today marks the first day since the surgery that she has small paddock privileges. I imagine she is very, very happy to be back at SAFE Harbor!

Zanadu’s surgery is a success! 

We are very happy to share the news that Zanadu’s surgery, which took place yesterday at Pilchuck Vet Hospital, was a success. In fact, Dr. Bryant said that it went better than he had expected. The bone chip was very large, coming right off the corner cleanly. He was most pleased about the overall condition of the joint, he said it looked to be in great condition overall. He feels strongly that this will improve her athletic ability in the long term. Zan was released from Pilchuck this morning and was delivered to NWESC for her first month of rehab. She’s have about three months of rest while she heals, and then will start back into work to regain her strength. It’s our hope that she will be ready for adoption by early 2013. We are so grateful to everyone who helped make this happen for Zanadu — especially the Adams family who donated the money needed for this surgery — and for all of you who sent good thoughts her way! 

Zanadu’s angels 


Zan’s been a SAFE horse since June of 2010, and she’s come a long way from the unhandled and underfed filly she was when we first met her. Restarted under saddle by professional dressage trainer Andrea Lucianna, Zan became a superstar riding horse — willing, easy, hard working, and so pretty to look at. Since graduating from training, Zan has been ridden extensively by select SAFE volunteers. She’s competed at several schooling shows in both Dressage and English Pleasure. She’s even been to the ocean. Through it all, she’s proved herself to be level-headed, teachable, and fun to ride.

But adoption has eluded our dear Zan…she’s come close a few times, but that perfect home that she deserves so much has never quite appeared. Looking at Zan with our eyes instead of our hearts, we understand what the problem has been. Zan has a slightly enlarged knee from a past injury. She’s always been perfectly sound, but we caution potential adopters that this young horse may end up facing arthritis and need joint injections and maintenance sooner than most horses. Unfortunately, that uncertainty has been enough to scare off her potential adopters.

Recently we showed her x‑rays to Dr Bryant at Pilchuck Vet Hospital and asked him for an evaluation. He told us that Zan had bone chips in her knee joint, and that she looked to be a good surgical candidate. The price quoted for the surgery was $2300–2800 — not a prohibitive amount of money, but certainly more than a horse rescue could justify paying for itself. 

Enter the Adams family. Brenda and her daughter Krista were invited to SAFE Harbor Stables as part of our Directors Luncheon (tickets were auctioned off at the SAFE Horse Show). There they met Zan and heard her story…and immediately, they decided that they were going to help this horse. Yesterday, we got the joyful news…by combining a donation with matching funds from the Microsoft Workplace Giving Program, the Adams family — Mike, Brenda, and Krista — would be donating the entire amount needed to pay for Zan’s surgery!

So if you heard cheering coming from Woodinville yesterday afternoon, well, that was us, celebrating Zan’s good fortune and the Adams’ generosity! We’ll have more to share after we get Zan’s surgery scheduled and we know what is in store for her in terms of rehabilitation, but already we are looking forward to the day when we can announce that Zan is on her way to a wonderful new home and a wonderful new life, thanks to Mike, Brenda, and Krista Adams!! 

Zan at the SAFE Show! 

A big thank you to volunteer Lara B for riding Zan at the SAFE show. They made a lovely pair! Here’s Lara’s report on her weekend with Zan:

When we entered the dressage ring on Saturday, I’d only ridden Zan a handful of times. I found her to be an uncomplicated and confident mare, eager to work and game for almost anything. During her time at SAFE, she has had an extensive education, and she responds to subtle cues. She was a star in our Training‑3 ride, scoring a 67% and a second place ribbon. Zanadu is definitely a mare (somewhat opinionated and not always cuddly), but she’ll give every request her all. She likes to think about each task at hand, which made her feel and act like a true partner. She was a pleasure to work with in every class, from dressage to trail, and by the end of the weekend, I was sold. Zan will make someone an excellent all-around horse, and I hope they come to claim her soon.

Here are some gorgeous photos of Zanadu and Lara at the SAFE Show! Thank you to Liz Stabbert Photography for these great shots!!

More photos of Zanadu at the SAFE show taken by Karen Wegehenkel can be viewed online here!

Zanadu — Photos from the SAFE Benefit Show Aug 6–7th

Zanadu’s professional photos taken at the SAFE show.  Photo credit to Liz Stabbert and Karen Wegehenkel.

To view all of Karen Wegehenkel’s photos of Zanadu, click here.

To view all of Liz Stabbert’s photos of Zanadu, click here.

Lovely Zan 

Equine photographer Karen Wegehenkel was kind enough to come out to the SAFE farm last week for a photography session with Zan, Dexter, Annie, Summer and Bucky. The results are simply stunning. We’ll be sharing some of these images with you over the next few days. Let’s start with the lovely Miss Zanadu: (click the photos to enlarge)

Update — May 24, 2011 

Zanadu’s potential adoption unfortunately fell through. Some concerns over her soundness in her right knee were raised by the vet which caused the adopter to back out of the adoption. We had Dr. Hannah out the following week to further evaluate her knee, which is slightly larger than her left. Dr. Hannah saw no lameness on the lungeline, but she did show a mild, Grade 2/5 lameness with flexion. She took some xrays and conferred with Dr. Bryant at Pilchuck. The xrays show a bone chip as well as an area of arthritis. This will probably cause her some soreness at some point in the future and require some maintenance (joint supplements, Adequan, joint injections) to keep her comfortable. She’s not going to be a jumper or do anything super strenuous, and potential adopters should be made aware of the issue, however she is still fine for low-level dressage, flatwork, trail riding, pleasure riding, etc. Dr. Bryant did say that the arthritis was in an area where surgery to remove the chip and clean up the joint could be an option to give her a little more time before she would need joint maintenance, however as she is sound now that is not an option that SAFE plans to pursue for her. Dr. Hannah also flexed her left hind leg which has the old barbed wire injury on it, but she showed no positive response to flexion on it and it does appear to be superficial scar tissue only. Photos of her knee and left hind pastern below.

Annie & Zan — April 17 

Annie and Zanadu were stars this weekend! Annie had a potential adopter come and ride her on Saturday as did Zanadu, who was ridden in a lesson with our trainer. Both rode the horses really well and would make really great matches for them. They both plan to come back and ride again so we’ll see!  Zanadu also attended a Parelli clinic with another potential adopter, the same clinician that worked with Dexter a few weeks ago. That also went really well, so we will cross our fingers!

Zan Update — April 3 

Zanadu was a popular girl this weekend, having two potential adopters come and meet her this weekend.  She has been a little grouchy lately on the ground, not sure if it is related to coming into heat or what.  She’s fussy and overly sensitive about being groomed before she is ridden, but after that she is much happier and more settled.  Holly also had two visitors this weekend, so hopefully we might see a pending adoption on at least one of them soon!

Zan Update — Feb 20, 2011 

Sara had a lesson on Zanadu today that went really well. They are using trot poles to help with canter departs and it seems to help her a lot. No more kicking out in the departs and she is picking up the correct lead right when asked, not rushing into the canter like she was before. I didn’t get any pictures, but did get some video, which I will post tomorrow once I figure out how to get it off my phone.

Annie and Zanadu Update — Feb 13, 2011 

Today was lesson day at the farm today.  We had a potential adopter come out to watch Zanadu and Sara in her lesson today.  I missed the lesson but Sara reported Zanadu did great today, no bucking or kicking out in the canter at all today and the trainer set up trot poles to help with her canter departs and it really helped a lot.  Annie was also reportedly very good for her lesson — a change in saddle pads seemed to make her a bit happier and free up her shoulder a bit — we think the riser pad we were using on her may have been causing the saddle to fit too tightly in the shoulders.

SAFE Journal — Feb 12, 2011 

Another busy day at SAFE! This morning Allison, one of our volunteers and myself hauled Annie and Zanadu up to the Evergreen Fairgrounds in Monroe where they participated in an event for the Snohomish County 4H called Equine-O-Rama. Dr. Hannah Evergreen gave a talk about her non-profit, Northwest Equine Stewardship Center, and talked about the process of rehabbing a rescue horse. I spoke a bit about SAFE and Geri Vincent from Equine Aid was also present with one of her rescue horses, Scarlett, as well as her donkey and mascot Petey.  Annie was a superstar and absolutely loved the crowd of admirers that gathered around her after the talk.  Zanadu also got a lot of attention, although she was perplexed as to why we hauled down there just to stand around and thought we really should be doing something.  She also was VERY interested in Petey!

While we were busy at Equine-o-Rama, our volunteer Abby gave a farm tour and talk for a couple of students from Bear Creek School’s Equestrian club.  Thank you Abby for handling this for us since we couldn’t be in two places at one time!

Tia seems to have settled down and is no longer agitated as long as she is in her stall, but her left eye is still bothering her quite a bit and very swollen and oozing.  She may have banged it during her bout of anxiety, or its possible she is having a uveitis flare-up.  It is also possible that her anxiety is caused by the fact that she is losing sight in her left eye as well.  For now we have held off on giving her the steriods and are hoping that she remains calm.  The good news is she couldn’t be in better hands at NWESC.

Delilah and Baxter both went on trail rides this week at the Pilchuck Tree Farm!  Both did great, Delilah was relaxed and on a loose rein and Baxter was also extremely good.  Sara was able to ride him in a lesson on Thursday, he gave her one buck at the canter but she rode him through it.  Delilah did have one mishap with her rider this week.  She doesn’t like cantering to the left much and her steering is still kind of rough, and at one point she decided to flip her leads (a clean change!) and just go right and her rider continued going left without her.  Oops!  But her rider landed on her feet and Delilah just cantered on to the right seeming not even to notice she had lost her rider.  No big deal, just get back on and back to work!

Corona is doing very well.  Dr. Hannah has spoken to the vet who saw him earlier this week and she feels like the injury is relatively minor once we get the infection under control.  We have had several people contact us that know him from his show days and received the below pictures of him.  Doesn’t he look wonderful?  We have high hopes for his adoptability once he finishes his rehabilitation and is ready for adoption.

Lastly, we have heard that the PBS story on Bucky B Lucky will air on Friday, February 18th, at 7pm.  This will be on channel 9 and in HD on channel 109.  We are hoping to set up some viewing parties for those that want to get together with other horse folks and watch it with us, so more on that soon!

Zan Update — Jan 12 2011 

Zan and I rode last night, despite the wind. I decided to lunge her first to see how she felt with the wind whipping and let her adjust to the sound the arena roof makes with a big gust (it even made me jump the first few times I heard it!). 

She gave a few bucks on the lungeline but seemed to have her wits about her so I hopped on. At first she was on her toes a bit and kept trotting faster and faster (and breaking into canter). I figured this was as good at time as any to work on our transitions. We did lots of walk/halt/walk/trot/walk/trot/walk/halt in both directions. When she felt like she was listening we did a couple of trot/canter transitions in each direction. The right is easy, the left requires more work. To be fair, I think it’s me not asking quite right. She’s very sensitive to leg so I’m trying to get with the program of asking with my seat, while not losing my leg, without giving her a “bump” (which is my natural inclination). When I get it right- she just steps right into the canter- it’s just figuring out how to recreate that feeling reliably that’s the challenge! 

Zan Update from Jan 9 2011 

I liked Zan so much I called the trainer to see if she’d come down and give me a lesson today. 

While Zan was a bit of a nut on the lunge line yesterday (bucking and racing around before settling in) today she gave me a quiet, rythmic trot instead. I’ve been told this normal for her- she needs to be lunged if she has more than one day off- but otherwise it’s fine to just jump right on her. 

Andrea gave me the rundown of what they had been working on with her (encouraging a slower, more rhythmic, trot) how to get a nice canter depart (no kicking out today at all), how to push her steering buttons, how to keep her from curling behind the vertical and some work on better walk/trot transitions (up and down). 

My background is not dressage (and, a lot has changed even in the 10 or so years I took off rom riding) so I still feel a little like a pig on rollerskates but such an interesting process.

Zan videos from Jan 8 2011 

Jamie took some video of us riding. She does give a small buck/kick out going into the canter. She’s had over 60 days of professional training but *is* still green. Also, she has had over a month off. As you’ll see, canter was easier to the right than the left. 

She’s still a little green (note the buck into the canter) but also should note that she had had over a month off when this video was taken. When in regular work, that goes away pretty quickly.

Zan Update from Jan 8 2011 

Zan’s thread just does not reflect what a little gem she is. 

It’s been a dark icky winter so far and I have not been as motivated, as I should be, but the weather was crappy in the mountains and I was up early this morning (and bailed on riding last night) so I figured I’d try and get a few rides in today. 

Zan is simply a pleasure to be around. She’s a very good girl on the ground… easy to catch and handle. Good with her feet, blanket, fine with being sprayed (showsheen for her tail) and so on. She’s also fine in a stall and seems to get along fine with the other horses on the property. She is very easy to tack up- no issues with the saddle (she would prefer the girth go a little at a time but isn’t nippy or kicky about it) or bridle.

She is very forward at the trot, but not naughty. I did get a small kick-out each direction at the canter. Not in a balky way, just more of a “woohoo!” I think. She’s just not very complicated to ride. 

I’m hoping maybe to do some schooling shows on her, if she lasts that long. She is just ready to go and I think the first person who comes to look at her will take her home. 

Zan Update from Dec 5, 2010 

Update from SAFE Volunteer Coordinator, Allison Sheka:

I took Zan out yesterday for a good grooming and photo shoot. She stood nicely in the crossties and has good manners on the ground. She was shy about being caught, but came around with cookies. I put her in the arena to run around a bit and she is a SUPER CUTE mover. She bucked and cantered around and showed us her pretty trot. She had her tail up in the air like an Arab, and she was adorable. Super super sweet little mare!

Photos — click to enlarge

Zan Update from Dec 1, 2010 

Unfortunately, Zan’s pending adoption has fallen through. This has nothing to do with Zan herself, but rather a change in the status of the family that was planning to adopt her.

Zan has returned to SAFE and she looks great. We are hoping to get a rider on her ASAP and get some pictures and video, but all reports from the trainer was that she is a super horse that turned out to be surprisingly nice. Nice mover, sensitive and forward but not lazy or spooky, very willing and sweet. Walk/trot/canter, goes nicely on the bit, does some leg yields, etc. Didn’t get her out on the trails due to weather but ridden out and about on the farm and did great. Pastured with several other horses and gets along well with others. I’ve got a volunteer rider for her so hopefully get some pics/video in the next few days.

Zan Update from Oct 17, 2010 

Zan has turned out to be a really super riding horse. Our trainer reports she is super cute under saddle, with a really pretty trot, naturally on the bit, very sweet. She’s solid walk/trot/canter now and while in training, she caught the eye of a young girl that takes lessons with our trainer. For the last couple of weeks she has been taking lessons on Zan and even though she’s a beginner, she’s doing really well with her. So well that they have decided to keep Zanadu as a foster-to-adopt situation. She will keep her in partial training and ride her mostly in lessons for now, and another more advanced girl will be riding her a few days a week as well. 

If this works out, it will be an inspiring story, as this girl has been though some very tough times this past year and SAFE would love to have one of our horses play a part in helping this girl heal. So cross your fingers, toes, and anything else you can cross for this adoption!

Zanadu training update — September 20, 2010 

Good news on Zanadu — she is now going well at a walk and trot in the big arena. She is much more confident now and very cute under saddle with a nice trot! She is also loving the work and the attention and comes running to the gate when its time to work! She should be ready to come back from training mid-October and will be available for adoption then!

Zanadu training update — September 9, 2010 

Update on Zanadu: her trainer reports she is coming along — a little slower than expected as she was a little nervous about the mounting part — but is now trotting under saddle following another horse. She had a couple big spooks the first time but settled quickly. She will be finishing up her 60 days of training mid-October and available for adoption then.

Zanadu Training Update from Aug 21, 2010 

Zanadu went up to training a week ago. So far she has learned how to lunge, wear a saddle/bridle, and lunge with the saddle and very loose side reins. She was fine with the saddle on Day 1 and 2, Day 3 she had a little bucking fit but got over it pretty quickly. She tested a little bit and got a little sassy on the lungeline at first and coming in at the handler but once corrected completed stopped the behavior. Other than that though, she’s been super easy to start, very quiet and sweet. She has a couple of teenage girls that are her fan club right now. Next week they will start leaning over her back and hopefully be on her by the end of the week.

Zanadu Background & History 

Zan is a 5 year old unregistered chestnut paint/pinto mare surrendered to SAFE by her owners due to financial distress. Zan was previously rescued from a feedlot in Eastern WA (not sure if it was CBER, if anyone recognizes her, please let me know!). It was some time ago as she has been with the owner that surrendered her almost 2 years ago, and prior to that she had two foals (one of them a mule). She is not broke and has only been used as a broodmare. She is slightly underweight and does have some rain rot/skin fungus issues due to lack of shelter. 

Zan was surrendered along with another mare named Calamity. 

These horses have not had any vet care and the last time they saw a farrier was July of 2009. Zan appears sound but does have an enlarged right front knee and a swollen left hind fetlock/pastern.

First photos of Zan:

Zan arrives at SAFE