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.

MyNorthwest: Redmond Rescue Organization Fighting to Save Equestrian Lives

Redmond Rescue Organization Fighting to Save Equestrian Lives

Originally published April 21, 2017
By Kim Shepard, Redmond Reporter

Click here to view story on the My Northwest website

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.”

Link to article: http://mynorthwest.com/607592/redmond-rescue-organization-fighting-to-save-equestrian-lives/

Redmond Reporter: Playing it SAFE Around Horses


Playing it SAFE around horses: Equine rescue organization moves to Redmond

Originally published April 13, 2017
By Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter

Click here to view story on the Redmond Reporter website

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.


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.


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 teer@safehorses.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.


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 videos

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.

video: https://ahomeforeveryhorse.com/rescue-news/save-forgotten-equine-safe-overview-55178

Anakin’s Story:
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.
video: https://ahomeforeveryhorse.com/rescue-news/save-forgotten-equine-safe-anakins-story-55179

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.
Video: https://ahomeforeveryhorse.com/rescue-news/save-forgotten-equine-safe-intake-shelter-horse-55180

A Home for Every Horse Visits Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE)

A Home for Every Horse Visits Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE)

published June 28, 2016
written by Mariah Hammerschmidt

Link to Article Online

anderson_06_28_2016In 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.

From Slaughter Trailer to Dressage Champion: 5 Reasons to Adopt a Rescue Horse

Blog-LogoPublished March 2015 by Double D Trailers’ Blog

Bonnie Hammond loves her work with the SAFE horse rescue.

Bonnie Hammond loves her work with SAFE horse rescue.

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.


This is SAFE Rescue horse, Phoenix, learning to load onto the trailer.

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!”


Delilah’s before and after pictures show her journey from starved mare to dressage champion.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.’”
  5. 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.

Seattle Times: After donations, sick horse Anakin making steps towards recovery

After donations, sick horse Anakin making steps towards recovery

Originally published February 2, 2016
By Jessica Lee, Seattle Times staff reporter

Click here to view story on Seattle Times website

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.”

KOMO-4: Anakin’s remarkable progress: ‘He’s really come a long way’

Anakin’s remarkable progress: ‘He’s really come a long way’


Click here to view the news story on the KOMO-4 website!

WOODINVILLE, Wash. — A local horse that was near the brink of death in mid-December is making remarkable progress.

20-year-old Anakin was incredibly weak and thin when he was rescued from a small farm in Lewis County late last year. His hips and all of his ribs were exposed.

He’s gained about 100 pounds since then and is now able to stand up on his own, said Bonnie Hammond, Executive Director of the horse rescue group Save a Forgotten Equine (S.A.F.E.).

“The brightness, the personality is coming through,” Hammond said. “He’s showing joy for life again, and that is a wonderful, wonderful thing to see.”

Anakin spent several weeks at Cedarbrook Veterinary Care in Snohomish following his rescue. As he started to feel better, he would try to lie down on his own, Hammond said. But he was too weak to get himself back up.

“His hind legs were so weak from the starvation that he went through, that he didn’t have the strength to push his hind end up,” Hammond said.

Anakin was transferred to Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish, which has a stall with a hoist attached to the ceiling.

The hospital called Hammond every day to update her on Anakin’s status. After several weeks of care, Hammond received word from one of Anakin’s doctors that he had gotten up on his own.

“When we listened to that (voice)mail, we cheered and we cried and we were so relieved that he had gotten to that point,” Hammond said. “We were going to be able to give this horse the thing we most wanted to give him and that’s a second chance. And boy, that was a relief.”

Some of Anakin’s bones are still visible, but his progress has been remarkable, Hammond said.

“He has a couple hundred more pounds to go,” Hammond said. “We feel he’s out of the woods in terms of his stability, but he has a long way to go.”

Anakin is fed 4 meals a day. S.A.F.E. employees and volunteers have taken him on daily walks for the past 2 weeks to keep him mobile.

“It’s really been cool over the last week or so to see his attitude and personality develop a little bit more,” said S.A.F.E.’s barn manager. “He’s gotten more comfortable with the barn.”

“He’s really come a long way in the last 7 weeks,” Hammond added.

Most of Anakin’s vet care has already eaten through the $11,000 viewers and admirers have donated for his recovery, Hammond said.

Hammond believes it’ll take at least another 4 months before Anakin is back to full strength.

He’ll get there, Hammond said. He’s already proven he has the will to survive.

“He’s gonna be a beauty,” she said.

Anakin will be available for adoption once he’s healthy. S.A.F.E. plans to keep track of his progress for the rest of his life, employees said.

Click here for more information about Save A Forgotten Equine.

Seattle Times: Celebrated horse, found neglected and starving, faces uphill course to health

Celebrated horse, found neglected and starving, faces uphill course to health

By Jessica Lee
Published January 8, 2016 at 8:24 pm

Link to story on the Seattle Times website

With a starved frame, Anakin lacks strength to stand on his own. The 20-year-old Thoroughbred was found neglected in Western Washington early last month following a celebrated career in research years ago.

But now, several hundred pounds underweight, the former star is on an uphill trot to health. The Woodinville horse-rescue nonprofit, Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE), stepped in to care for the gelding, hoping he eventually gains strength to get up on his own.

“His will to live is incredible, considering the shape he’s in,” SAFE Executive Director Bonnie Hammond said. “Most horses would’ve given up a long time ago, but he’s determined to keep on living.”

Anakin started his life as a mediocre racehorse. At 3 years old, his fate seemed grim — he was sent to a kill pen — until a team of California researchers offered him a new career.

The group, from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, or Cal Poly Pomona, rescued him. Over the next 12 years, he participated in studies on locomotion and impacts on horses at high altitudes, among other topics, at the school’s Equine Research Center.

But when the facility’s director suddenly died, research funding grew scarce. The studies ended, putting Anakin’s future again in limbo, at age 15, until one researcher in the group took him in.

After that, his story is fuzzy. It’s unclear where and how he wound up in Washington malnourished. The Gray’s County Sheriff’s Office’s animal-control department is investigating the case with hopes of determining Anakin’s source of mistreatment.

Caregivers say he is making progress in terms of physical activity and appetite at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish County, though they estimate it will take three to four months before he returns to full weight and health, according to the horse’s profile on the SAFE’s website.

Some two weeks after he first entered the facility, caregivers were still using a hoist to get him up on his feet because his hind legs are so weak.

“I’m just hoping and praying that he’s going to start showing signs that he’s going to be able to stand up on his own,” Hammond said. “He didn’t get this thin overnight, and he’s not going to bounce back overnight.”

SAFE is accepting donations to support Anakin, which can be made online, by calling 206-331-0006 or by mailing a check to SAFE at 16509 164th Ave. N.E., Woodinville, 98072.

Jessica Lee: 206-464-2532 or jlee@seattletimes.com

Horse Collaborative: Anakin and the Anatomy of a Horse Rescue

Horse Collaborative Logo
Anakin and the Anatomy of a Horse Rescue
From the racetrack, to the research lab, to death’s doorstep

by Bonnie Hammond
Published Dec 16, 2015

Link to the story online at HorseCollaborative.com

Link to the story on Horse Collaborative’s Facebook Page

For us, Anakin’s story began early Monday morning with an email asking for our help. It was from a woman in Winlock, Washington who wanted to know if SAFE had room to take in an emaciated Thoroughbred gelding.

The horse had been rescued a few days earlier by her young boarder, and it had become clear to her that he was going to need much more than either of them would be able to provide or afford. While SAFE’s intake team was discussing how best to help, a second email arrived. The horse was down on the ground and was unable to get back to his feet.

Two days prior, they had faced a similar situation with Anakin, and the Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART) had been deployed to the property to hoist him to his feet. Now, Anakin was in trouble again. He’d laid down to rest and his weakness, combined with the wet, over-saturated ground, made it impossible for him to stand up. He was stiff, cold and tired, and there was more bad weather on the way.

Once again, WASART answered the call and sent a team out to assist Anakin a second time. Using a Häst tripod, a Becker sling and a large group of manpower, WASART responders safely returned Anakin to an upright position. (The story and photos of this rescue operation are amazing, so if you’ve not seen them, visit WASART’s Facebook page to experience this incredible feat of rescue, and consider making a donation to this all-volunteer organization.)

More than one rescuer commented on Anakin’s demeanor during the complicated procedure. He was calm, relaxed and fairly unconcerned about what was happening. WASART responders often find that horses who have been through such an ordeal will eventually just give up and give in to exhaustion. Not Anakin. Clearly this was a horse with a strong will to live. Continue Reading on HorseCollaborative.com