Volunteers of the Month

SAFE is incredibly fortunate to have such amazing volunteers. Each month, we select two exceptional volunteers to honor as our Volunteers of the Month. We ask them to share their stories, including why they decided to start volunteering at SAFE and who their favorite SAFE horses are. It’s a unique insight into what its like to volunteer here. Click here if you’d like to learn more about our volunteer program.

November Volunteer of the Month: Kristina Oden

Congratulations and huge thanks to our Volunteer of the Month for November: Kristina Oden!! Kristine came to SAFE as an adopter in 2017, and stayed on as a volunteer, using her photography skills to document the progress of our rescued horses! Let’s get to know her better:

How and when did you first get involved with horses? 

I’ve grown up with horses my whole life.  My mom loves horses so I grew up doing 4-H, competitive trail riding, and endurance riding.  

Do you have one now you want to tell us about?

I adopted Bridget from SAFE back in 2017.  We actually started out looking at Prince because my mom and I had owned Morgans in the past but Bridget ended up being a better fit since I have small children.  Bridget lives on our property along with her mini companion Oreo.  Our house is close to the pipeline so we are able to ride to it and the Kathryn Taylor Equestrian Park.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE?

SAFE gives me a wonderful opportunity to practice my photography.  I love SAFE’s mission and how much they care for the horses but are able to make the tough decisions about what it best for their horses.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why?

Probably my favorite horse so far has been Wind.  I loved photographing her.  She had such gentle eyes and always knew how to find the light.  In general though I am fond of petite mares like Cameo, Cassidy, and Fancy.  

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us?

Right now I am a stay at home mom.  Remote learning is keeping me pretty busy but fortunately I can still find a few moments here and there to slip out to SAFE to take photos.

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up?

My mom and my husband make volunteering at SAFE a possibility.  Without them I would not be able to do it.

Thank you so much for all that you do, Kristina!! We’re so lucky to have you on our team!

October Volunteer of the Month: Michayla Conrad

Jill and Michayla, photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I grew up with horses and spent almost every day with them until I became allergic when I was around 11 years old. The reactions I would have were pretty severe, but they have since calmed down to the point where I can volunteer at SAFE without having any health concerns (yay!). I do not currently have a horse, so I live vicariously through my sister who has a ranch out in Colorado and is living the dream. Not having a horse of my own also means that I get to give all my love to the horses at SAFE.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? I initially gained interest in SAFE because of the horses, but the people are really what makes it so special… It feels amazing to be part of this community at SAFE! Both the people and the horses contribute in making the barn one of my happy places.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? It’s hard to choose just 1! I would say that since she’s arrived my favorite horse has been Jill. I’m completely smitten by her and I would adopt her today if I could (and give Dylan all the training he would want with her!). She has this natural calm about her and her personality is so in sync with mine. She’s also smart, resilient, humble, trusting (after you earn it), ADORABLE, and holds space really well. Okay, I’ll stop gushing about her… It’s just such a joy and comfort for me to be around her, and I appreciate any and all of the time I get with her.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I’m a slight workaholic, I enjoy reading immensely, and whenever my schedule allows I backpack into the mountains. I also went to school for and have jobs that revolve around herbalism, so I spend a lot of my day-to-day life talking about, writing about, and/or hanging out with plants.

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up?

Jill and Michayla, photo by Sundee Rickey

My friends who accept the state of my appearance if we make plans right after my shift, and also my better half who accepts the fact that I never sleep in and that my Saturday mornings are permanently taken.

Friendship Lights Our World!

Our barn bathroom was sad. It had a hole in the ceiling. It was unsightly and a bit drafty. Friends of SAFE to the rescue! SAFE Saturday Volunteer, Sarah McGarr, asked her talented friend, Andrew Perti to come and take a look. Andrew grabbed his tools and went right to work. With Jeanne’s help and a few trips to the hardware store- our barn bathroom is beautiful and whole! Not only did he plaster the ceiling but painted the entire room. Then while waiting for things to dry he repaired the flood lights on the covered arena and installed a new switch and outlet, that was an added bonus. Andrew lives in Washington DC and was visiting his good friend, Sarah.  When asked why he generously shared his vacation time his expression (behind the mask) clearly replied …why not? “I’ve got a soft spot for nonprofits.”

SAFE is so fortunate to have our enthusiastic volunteer, Sarah, who introduced us to her skillful friend, Andrew. Hooray for friends! Thank you both!

Beautiful new bathroom!

 

 

 

 

Andrew at work on the lights and wires in the smoke

September Volunteer of the Month: Pam Lloyd

Pam and Moon

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? As a preschooler, my mother enrolled me in dance class where I met my best childhood friend. Instead of dancing, we obsessed over horses. But her parents were relentless and installed a ballet barre–in their house! When we just loped around it, they gave in and took us to riding lessons. We took lessons together at Evergreen Equestrian Center until 6th grade, when she moved away. Missing her terribly, I convinced my parents that it would take a horse to fill the void she had left. Miraculously, it worked! I got my first horse and enjoyed many years of showing on the hunter/jumper circuit. Years later, I find that animals still help with the difficult things in life.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? I love being with the horses. I love being outside. And I love the physicality of horse-related work. But I also love that volunteering at SAFE is bigger than what it does for me, personally. The transformation of the animals is nothing short of amazing, and I am so honored to be a part of that.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? I will always have a soft spot for Slim (RIP). Despite the pain he was in, he was a gentle giant. The babies are also cute and rambunctious. Amelia is a sweetie. And I can’t wait to see how Piper turns out.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I’ve tried to make the best of COVID time by spending quality time with my daughters, working on my home-based business, and riding a leased horse several times a week.

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? My family is very supportive and enjoys hearing stories about the people and horses at SAFE. Interestingly, neither of my daughters has the horse-crazy gene. They spent their youth dancing, of course.

*Photo Note– sadly Pam injured herself (not at SAFE) and we were not able to do her VOM photo shoot in time for this post. We will catch up with her when she is recovered and look forward to updating with swanky photos courtesy of Sundee Rickey.

August Volunteer of the Month: Sue Coulter

Cyrus and Sue, photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I was obsessed with horses as a child, but we never had the money for me to ride, other than a few weeks at summer camp each year. I got involved in the hunter jumper world in my late 20s, when I had discretionary time and money. I bought my own horse when I was 30, an athletic Morgan who knew everything and taught me the ropes over fences. I spent a few years convincing my husband we should wait one more year before having kids. Of course riding slowed down a bit with a job and 3 kids, but I found there was always something to ride, and I usually had some kind of a half lease. I also started going to a guest ranch in B.C. during those years, with my kids, and have been there multiple times yearly for 20 years now.  I ride Western there, and it might be my favorite place in the world. The best benefit of my retirement at the end of 2018 is not having to rush at the barn. I am currently half leasing a lovely 8 year old Thoroughbred mare named Kate. She is a dark bay, and has lots to teach me, mostly about asking quietly.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? I love seeing the horses settling into living a great life, where they can be good citizens. I have learned so much watching Terry, Casey, Kaya, Dylan, and Joel provide them with a structure they can relax into, and go on to be productive happy horses. I am so proud to have even a small part in the work done at SAFE. I have also learned so much from Skye. She leads by example and I love her.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? After much deliberation, I decided it is Sienna. The why is harder. I have always been a dark bay fan, and she is a lovely chestnut. While she is well put together, she is certainly not the perfect conformation for someone my size. She is a wise soul though, calm and centered (except when not) and I find it so peaceful to spend time with her.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? Well, of course I spend time horsing around outside of SAFE. I ride Kate 3 times a week. I am a water fan, so kayaking and riding waves are high on my list. My daughter and I have a yearly backpacking trip.  I was a software engineer by profession, and prior to COVID 19 I volunteered at a local high school, helping teach some AP computer science classes.  I enjoyed that a lot and hope to go back to it when the pandemic eases.

Sue and Sienna, photo by Sundee Rickey

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? My husband and 3 mostly adult children have supported my habit over the years. My daughter still goes to the ranch with me every year and we rock the cowgirl dances!

July Volunteer of the Month: David Livingstone

David and Anderson, photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I always lived just a few miles from horses while I was growing up, but I never interacted with them. Since none of my friends were involved in horsemanship it never crossed my mind. My mom would talk about riding when she was younger and tell stories about an uncle of hers who caught and trained mustangs in New Mexico, but it didn’t seem like a world I could be a part of. Still, I think growing up in that environment and hearing those stories stayed with me.

A few years ago I moved from Seattle to Duvall, and seeing horses on a daily basis again sparked my interest. Plus, I knew I wanted to be around animals but I wasn’t in a good situation to adopt a pet. One day I saw a sign outside the local coffee shop seeking SAFE volunteers, and when I realized I had nothing to lose from giving it a try I decided to get involved.

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? I joke that I volunteer at SAFE instead of paying for CrossFit, but there’s so much more to it than that. I never feel out of place because we have volunteers at all skill levels and with all sorts of backgrounds, and I’m always learning little things about horsemanship and the community in general.

I’m a freelancer who works from home, and while I love the flexibility, it can be a bit isolating. It feels good to be a part of the Tuesday morning crew we call the Giddy Up and Go Gang, and meet new people when I fill in for other shifts or special events.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? Piper is my current favorite because she has such a strong personality and she’s full of curiosity at her age. Sometimes I’ll photograph the horses if I have free time after a shift, and her expressive face and buckskin coat maker her very photogenic. It’s been exciting to watch her mature and see her skills develop.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I like running, hiking, backpacking, and photography—pretty much anything that lets me get outside and set my own course. Someday, when I’m an experienced rider, I’d love to explore the Olympic Peninsula on horseback.

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up?

David and Anderson, photo by Sundee Rickey

My parents Pete and Eva taught me the importance of volunteering and staying active. My dad assists with search and rescue missions and co-founded an organization that maintains trails and organizes races, and my mom has helped with youth programs through church and served as a court-appointed advocate for children through the CASA program.

June Volunteer of the Month: Amie Smith

Amie and Millie, photo by Sundee Rickey

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Do you have one now you want to tell us about? Our family bought its first Morgan when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. His name was Abner and he was the kindest, most gentle horse! We used to go visit him on weekends at the stables close to our house in Southern California. I loved grooming him and riding him in the arena. Eventually we purchased some ranch property and acquired a few more horses. I have fond memories of trail riding and even participated with Abner in a few horse shows. A few years later my dad bought my sister and I our own horse – a Welsh pony named Ace. We loved him and would spend all our free time with him until we started taking more of an interest in boys and sports. Sadly I do not own a horse now, which is why I love my SAFE horses : )

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE? I just love the energy being around the horses at SAFE – they all have such unique personalities and stories!! Before I found SAFE, I was having these dreams about horses and realized that somehow, some way I needed to be around them again. I started searching the internet for opportunities to volunteer and found SAFE. I feel so blessed to be a part of the Wednesday a.m. crew! I look forward to seeing them as much as I do all the horses!

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? It’s hard to pick one horse – I fall in love with all of them! I remember when the draft horses Moon and Slim arrived at SAFE. I was so in awe of their size and gentle demeanor. I would go out to their paddock after I was done with my chores and just hang with them. I was so happy when Moon found her forever home and cried a river of tears when Slim had to be put down. It goes without saying though that I have an immense amount of respect for the difficult decisions that sometimes have to be made in the best interest of the horses here at SAFE. Then there’s Cyrus. When he first arrived at SAFE, I had never seen a horse so malnourished!! It was disturbing. But, as the months went by and he started putting on weight and coming out of his shell you could see just how beautiful he was! I was so drawn to him. I’m so glad he is back. I know it won’t be long before someone scoops him up!!

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? I love spending time with my family! I’m so fortunate that my daughter (employed at DocuSign) and son (attending UW) both live close by. We are a super tight-knit family. I also love practicing yoga, skiing, hiking, traveling the world and getting together with friends.

Photo by Sundee Rickey

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? I am thankful that my husband and kids support my desire to spend time at SAFE. They always reach out midday on Wednesdays to see how my time was with the horses and look forward to getting pics….. With everything going on in our crazy pandemic world right now, SAFE is definitely my “sweet spot” for sure!

May Volunteer of the Month: Sundee Rickey

Congratulations Sundee Rickey, our Volunteer Retention Manager, for being SAFE’s May Volunteer of the Month! Thank you for bringing your compassion and care to our SAFE family. We are better for all the ways you contribute; from barn chores, to team building, to making the Volunteer of the Month program special. You help us recognize and acknowledge the contributions of our volunteers, while working hard as a volunteer yourself. You bring us together. You keep us together. You warm our hearts with your sweetness and your smile. Thank you, Sundee!

 

How and when did you first get involved with horses? Horses have always been a part of my heart for as long as I can remember. Most of my childhood and teens always included horses, trail riding, competing in 4H and farm life. My aunt was a prominent horse trainer as well and involved my sister and I with her horses in the Kla Ha Ya Days parades in Snohomish, WA. I had a horse named Gypsy as a teen. She was a bay Arabian, so fast, and free spirited. Riding Gypsy was like riding with the wind, as one! You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl!
Do you have one now you want to tell us about? I first met Cameo at SAFE, she reminded me of Gypsy so I was partial to her and became her SAFEkeeper. I do not have a horse now, however, I really enjoy riding lessons with Taffy, a 26 year old quarter horse. Taffy and my riding instructor R-A, have taught me so much! Random fence line visits with a beautiful, friendly horse I have dubbed “Gypsy Girl” every couple months currently fills my heart as well (and I think hers too).
What do you like most about volunteering at SAFE?  The horse transformations and the power of healing LOVE from their human caretakers! The unified passion and vision all of the people involved with SAFE share for the health, safety and love of the horses. I feel I can truly make a positive difference in the lives of the horses and people. I really appreciate all of the growth opportunities offered and really enjoy our Tuesday AM-Giddy Up and Go Gang! We like to horse around a bit. 😉 Someone from SAFE once stated: You come for the horses…. and you stay for the people! This is so true. Horses, people, photography and nature. All of my favorite things!
Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? Each SAFE horse has a story to tell making them all my favorites for so many different reasons. I love them all. Cameo, Valor, Mina, Moon, Millie, Cyrus and Merry to start! 
What do you do when you are not horsing around? As my friends and family can attest, I am always up for any kind of adventure. Anything involving animals/nature, photography, gardening, networking friends together for planned adventures, Airbnb travel/experiences, volunteering and as much horsing around as possible.
Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in this write up? My mom, Betty, is the reason I am a country horse girl at heart. She is thrilled my volunteering has come full circle and brought me back to the horses again. My husband, Michael, is very supportive as well. He lets me “get my words in” about all of my horse adventures and is a great listener. My adorable 8-year-old great niece, Rhowynn, was introduced to SAFE as a SAFEkeeper to Rae for her birthday present. Rhowynn and I have enjoyed watching Rae grow up and now share a horse love bond. Thank you to Sista Shannon, Aunt Sue, Dad and all who have been so supportive!

March Volunteer of the Month: Sara Hummel

Sara Hummel, chores and more! Thank you, Sara, for all you do for the SAFE ponies and people! You have been a life-save this winter, turning up whenever we need you. You are always there ready to work hard and you never lose your smile. Congratulations!

What do you like most about volunteering with SAFE?  I love the amazing community of volunteers and staff who are all there for the same reasons; loving and caring for these amazing animals coming from some pretty bleak circumstances, all in an effort to rehabilitate their bodies and minds in order to place them in the loving homes they each deserve! 

Photo by Sundee Rickey

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? If so, why? It’s so difficult to pick just one! At this time I’d have to say I’m torn between Millie and our pair of giant toddlers, Merry and Jollie. For all three it’s because they are such sweet, curious, affectionate creatures who just want to be loved and adored. Although, 1,100 pound curious-George toddlers can be a bit oblivious of their size 🙂

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? When I’m not at SAFE I enjoy finding new hiking and camping adventures with my 11 year old Labrador, spending time with good friends, cooking, reading and continuing my endless journey of self improvement.

Do you have family or special people in your life who support your volunteer work that you would want us to mention in your write up? My family and best friends all support me in my volunteering endeavors at SAFE and often express joy in seeing all of the ways my time with the organization is undeniably changing my life for the better!

February Volunteer of the Month: Lisa Pascualy

Valor and Lisa, photo by Sundee Rickey.

February is a month to share the love. We are pleased to announce our February Volunteer of the Month is someone who we all love to be around, Wednesday PM Shift Lead all-star, Lisa Pascualy. Thank you for all the ways your share your compassion for horses and people, Lisa. And congratulations! Here is some interesting info about Lisa:

How did you first get involved with horses? I assume most SAFE volunteers are like me and have loved horses for as long as they can remember. The first horse of my own, sort of, was “Black”, a jet black gelding of an unknown breed that my older sister brought home from summer camp. I was twelve years old and since my sister was in high school (with other interests) I quickly and happily stepped in as Black’s “owner” and care giver. Black was a little dangerous to ride and was notorious for taking the bit in his teeth and charging ahead at a full gallop. Those were the days when parents didn’t micromanage their kids, and I was able to convince them that we should buy him from the camp for $250. The camp wrangler told me I “drove a hard bargain” and readily (and perhaps a little too quickly) accepted my offer, Unfortunately the vet check revealed that Black’s hooves had two deep vertical cracks and the likelihood of future lameness was inevitable. Sadly, Black went back to the camp the following summer.

How did you find SAFE? I stumbled upon the concept of horse rescue and rehoming on Facebook, My online research took me to another horse rescue organization where I worked for over a year before I discovered SAFE. Initially, I just wanted to be near and care for horses, which I still love to do. However, SAFE’s mission, professional structure, and committed and kind volunteers are what has made me a dedicated and happy volunteer for almost three years. My regular crew of five volunteers on the Wednesday pm shift (Jan, Rob, Ava, Makenna and Jill) are extremely competent, kind and a lot of fun. An added bonus of my work at SAFE is the occasional request I receive to research and answer legal questions around horse rescue issues.

Do you have a favorite SAFE horse? I love to know which horses are people’s favorites at SAFE. and it’s a question I often ask other volunteers. I don’t always have a favorite horse, but  two have stood out over the last several years. Sage, one of my all time favorites, was so sweet and gentle and a little bit like a big puppy dog. l am sure she helped What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? a lot of young humans at the therapy camp where she found her forever home. My current favorite is Valor. I am drawn to the sweet and affectionate horses at SAFE.

What do you do when you are not horsing around with us? When I am not volunteering at SAFE, I dabble with writing children’s stories, manage real estate and travel the globe (near and far).

Are there special people in your life who support your volunteering? My husband and three adult children love hearing about my adventures at SAFE and all but my oldest son have visited and met the horses.