Success Stories

Nothing warms our hearts more than knowing that the horses that have been in our care have made successful recoveries and also found their forever homes. The staff and volunteers here at NWESC do the work that they do for the rewards that other people and the horses themselves reap. We are pleased to share some of their stories below...

Mr. Pibb (aka Mr. Wonderful)

Piper (formerly Paprika)

Pistol (formerly Scooter)

Mariposa and Bailey


Mr. Pibb (aka Mr. Wonderful)

Laura and Mr. Pibbby Laura Yen

The big brown puppy dog of my barn, how I love you!!

I met Mr. Pibb, a 24 year-old Quarter/Morgan when he was a foster horse at a barn where I spent time. He had been rescued from a home where he had starved to the point his body score was a 2. He had a huge parasite load and it was unclear if the people had fed him. Despite all of this the people had continued to ride him and he had on new shoes. Mr. Pibb had been rescued by SAFE and taken to NWESC for rehabilitation, where he got back to a good weight and health before going off to a lovely foster home.

I had volunteered for SAFE in the past, and when Mr. Pibb needed someone to help look after him some of the time at the barn (aka. clean his stall) I jumped right in, not suspecting what would come of the relationship. Pibby was greying through his liver-brown coat; he was sweet and kind and gentle; a bit of an oaf, in an endearing sort of way. He was quiet and calm and he spent his time grazing in the pasture or munching quietly in his stall. He didn’t mind being handled and seemed to trust easily, which amazed me considering his past. There was a young girl that would come and groom Pibby from time to time and he would stand perfectly still so that his friend was safe and he clearly loved the attention she gave him.Mr. Pibb Before

During this time I had been searching to find the right horse for me. One who needed me as much as I needed them. I had realized from a previous experience with a horse who was beyond my level of expertise that the love I have for horses is about the sweet kindness that comes from the bond between the right horse and the right person, and that match is everything. After interviewing several horses, it dawned on me that the perfect horse had been there all along, staring at me from across the barn aisle as I struggled with my decision. I think Pibby knew before I did. He had gone from looking at me skeptically to looking at me with the wisdom of a great teacher. Once we did a riding lesson together to make sure we spoke the same language, the deal was done. There was no going back, I was in love.

When the day came to take Pibby home, he jumped in the trailer as if to say, “what took you so long?” We had some adventures in the beginning like, ‘Pibby’s Great Escape: Country Mr. Pibb AfterRoad Take Me Home’ and ‘Pibby, A Goat’s Worst Nightmare: The Story of a Horse Who Likes to Play Rough’, but in the end this angel of a horse has been my dream come true. (And his goats love him through a fence line!)

Pibby welcomes me home at night by racing along the fence with my car, and waits at the barn with his head out the stall window. He hangs out with me when I work in the barn or the pasture with a look of, “what are we working on today, mom?” He is the most amazing animal, and I am so thankful for him, and for NWESC and SAFE for saving and rehabilitating him. I can’t imagine life without him.

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What's Luck Got to do With It - Piper (formerly Paprika)

Grazing HorseSome of you may remember one of our first rescue horses, Paprika, whom we took in from a notorious horse hoarder along with 7 of her herdmates.  Paprika (Piper as she is now known) was underfed, wormy and lice ridden. Of course, she also had a baby at her side.  From the first moment we met her, Paprika was an instant favorite. She is a sweet and gentle mare that has the most amazing trot that made each of us imagine ourselves on her back, in full dressage show gear, riding that floating trot across the arena to the amazement of all – and for one person, that would become a reality.

Ally, a horse rescue's dream adopter, met Paprika (let's just go with her current name Piper) when Piper was at Cowgirl Spirit Horse Rescue getting some miles put on her and readying her for adoption. Ally was immediately as entranced with Piper as we were.  She eventually adopted Piper and the team went on to show in dressage and claim the coveted blue ribbons. The fact was that no one was surprised. Everyone could see what an amazing horse Piper was, and what a beautiful pairing she made with Ally, who is a fantastic rider. They are a perfect match.

So begins the story of luck – both bad and good. Bad luck for Piper to end up with a hoarder who did not take care of her. Then good luck that Northwest Equine Stewardship Center (NWESC) could intervene and care for Piper and her baby to provide them the medical treatment they so desperately needed.

But the good luck continued with Cowgirl Spirit agreeing to take Piper on and then by Ally adopting Piper! But as the saying goes, ‘all good things must come to an end’ and in Piper’s case that occurred. Piper somehow ended up with a bone chip that needed to be surgically removed.  Then, shortly after completing her recovery from that surgery, she was diagnosed with EPM. However, with luck back on Piper’s side she is quickly recovering and is now down to her last dosage for treatment!Piper and Ally

Now, your first reaction might be....well, that was certainly a lot of bad luck, and you would be correct. However, in those dark days is sometimes where something more important shines through. In Piper’s case this was Ally's unwaivering commitment to her. While Ally is hoping for a complete recovery that will allow the team to once again grace the show arena, she is committed to the fact that even if they can't, Piper has her forever home. In my book, THAT is the best luck of all because Piper is loved unconditionally, in sickness and in health (remember when I said that Ally is a horse rescue's dream adopter?).

Piper is truly loved. Isn't that what it's all about? No matter what else happens, that is the best luck of all. And that's what luck has to do with it.

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The Story of Pistol

by Lorinda Hays

Pistol (formerly Scooter)90 days. That was the time frame I would tell clients they should leave their young horses with me in order to be “broke”. It’s also the amount of time I would try and have my seasoned show horses back in the barn after their winter vacations, before the first big show. 90 days is just the right amount of time for a lot of good to happen.

Exactly 90 days ago on June 17, 2012, I adopted Padrons Secret from S.A.F.E. I had heard about “Scooter” from my dear friend Heather, who works at NWESC. She had repeatedly asked that I consider this horse or at least come and meet him to evaluate him as, in her words, “He needs you.” As we were finally closing on our new horse property in the next couple of weeks and the possibility of having a third horse was very real, I agreed to go and at least meet him. I knew he had behavioral issues, but I also know that Heather has good instincts on horses and if she thought I could help…well I had to see.

I exchanged a few emails with someone from the rescue, and she filled me in on Scooter’s history. He was seized in November 2011 from a breeder in Pierce County and was locked in a chain link enclosure that had mud so deep that it had to be cut apart to rescue him. He was filthy and starving and scored a 2 on the body condition scale. He was deemed extremely ‘studdy’ and aggressive, in addition to having had minimal handling when he arrived at NWESC in February, and was a stud who was gelded immediately. The rescue had hoped that by gelding him, his behavior would start to change but as of the time when I went to go and look at him, that hadn’t happened yet.

Heather was brutally honest with me in that this was an extremely hard case. Not only did Scooter have serious behavioral issues, he also had some physical, the S.A.F.E. Board had actually met and considered euthanizing him for safety and health reasons. While they were devastated to have to consider such an ending, they felt that his many years of being isolated and neglected had created emotional and physical damage that far exceeded their ability to heal. While I was welcome to meet him, I was also warned that they couldn’t guarantee that he would be available to adopt.

About a week later, I met Scooter. The moment I first saw him, I think my mouth literally dropped open - he was gorgeous! I have worked with many Arabians, and could recognize his breeding instantly. He looked very much like his sire Padron with the classic dished face, perfectly shaped ears and huge expressive eyes. He wasn’t tall, but he was well-built with large, sloping shoulders, a short back and an incredible hingy neck. Even with no bridle path, remnants of winter hair and having just completed a vigorous rolling session, he oozed Arabian beauty. His one blue eye was a bit odd, as that is not breed characteristic for Arabs, but somehow still suited him well and added to his overall appeal.

Heather brought him over to me and he had the classic “don’t mess with me I’m a stallion” look on his face, ears pinned. He just hadn’t quite figured out that he was indeed a gelding at this point. Heather patiently explained that this was just one of his behavioral issues that made him appear less than suitable for adoption. Having worked with my share of grumpy horses I simply ignored his greeting, and carefully began to stroke his neck. Another of his issues was that he hated to be groomed and even touched it appeared. He would swish his tail, wiggle and move away if you even attempted to touch him anywhere behind the withers. He tolerated the neck stroking and eventually seemed to forget that I was there as we continued to talk. I was told that he didn’t lunge, had never been turned out anywhere other than the round pen and was a monster in his stall - squealing and backing up to the walls to kick almost constantly.

Pistol (formerly Scooter) Intake PhotoAs we continued to talk, I continued to pet him and applying massage techniques that I picked up from working with previous training horses. By the end of our visit, I was able to touch him on both sides, all the way to his tail. Not only was he tolerating it, he seemed to enjoy it. By this point, my son had even given his approval with a simple, “I like him Mom.” We thanked the staff at NWESC and S.A.F.E. volunteers that met with us, and started home. By the time I got there, I knew that this horse was meant to be mine. I also knew that he needed a new identity as “Scooter” was just not an appropriate name for such a special horse. My son suggested “Pistol” and that somehow seemed just perfect. S.A.F.E. felt comfortable with my interaction with Pistol and was thrilled with my proposal to adopt him and just like that…he had a chance.

When we brought him home, it was a bit nerve wracking as he had to adjust to having a stall/run combo with hot tape fencing and two gelding friends in the adjacent stalls. He was used to solid round pen panels that he could back up to and kick. He learned quickly that the fence was not so forgiving and after watching him do the same thing to the stall walls I opted for a well placed hot wire around the perimeter of the stall. He watched me string that wire, backed up to it one time and that was that. Smart boy!

I put him to work the very next day with small tasks that I thought he could excel at. Having worked with my share of “damaged” horses, I know that most times they are seriously lacking confidence - not only in themselves, but also in their surroundings. Giving them something to succeed at not only builds their confidence, but lays the foundation for them to start to trust you. Pistol desperately needed something to “own” as he was extremely insecure. I cross tied him, clipped him, lightly groomed him and lunged him the day after he came home. My instinct was that a horse like this was not bred to simply stand around in a dog kennel…he had likely been handled at least as a youngster. The more I worked with him and rewarded his good efforts, the less he acted like an aggressive stallion. By day 3 I had a saddle on him, by day 10 he was turned out with his gelding friends. Exactly 30 days after I brought him home, I rode him for the first time and he was a star! Heather had been right - this horse was exactly where he needed to be.

It has been 90 days since I brought Pistol home. He is an absolute changed animal. He is going well under saddle and is a natural born western horse. He is the first to greet me in the morning (ears up of course), and the last to retire to his hay pile in the evenings since he knows that if he waits around for me to lock up the tack room, it means Berry Good treats (his favorite) and scratches. He is polite, honest and 100% devoted to doing exactly what it is he thinks I want. He is completely non-confrontational in the herd and in fact, lets my 26 year old gelding boss him around continuously and also tolerates the 6 yr old gelding’s play antics with patience and only an occasional “get lost” face.

Pistol AfterHe is an independent, goofy horse that loves to gallop to the far end of the pasture every single day when he is turned out as if just to say, “Look at me!” before settling down to graze. He is easily the prettiest horse that has ever graced my barn and most evenings you will find me just standing there gazing at him in his stall. In all of my years of working with horses, I can’t ever remember a horse that I loved to just look at more. He is constantly amazing me with his appreciation for things like food and clean water. Sometimes he drools as I walk in with the grain bucket and always after he eats, he sips his water with his eyes half closed and a look of pure bliss on his face.

I hadn’t planned on adopting a horse, especially one that had such an unknown future but I am incredibly thankful that I did. As a horse professional, I feel that it’s important that we give something back and help those that can’t help themselves. This was my opportunity to do just that, and he has reminded me exactly why I do this. I encourage anyone who is thinking about acquiring a new horse to contact their local rescue and find out what is available. You will be glad you did!

A Message from NWESC

Lorinda and Pistol are a shining example of how the right networking and partnerships can work to find the perfect home for many rescue horses in need. While Lorinda and Pistol were the perfect equine/human match, another perfect match was formed many years ago between S.A.F.E. and NWESC. This match has resulted in countless success stories, each one touching our hearts and further fostering that special and unique relationship that we have.

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Fate Happens - The Story of Mariposa and Bailey

submitted by Valerie Wood

Mariposa and BaileyThis is a story about fate, love and commitment. Meet Bailey and Mariposa - a couple of thoroughbreds who found each other through unfortunate circumstances. Bailey, had been on the racetracks and had been retired due to a severe knee injury that sidelined him. He had been sent to a facility that promised to take care of him and send him to an adoptive home, if one could be found. The facility turned out to be one that was so poorly run that it was soon overrun with too many horses and not enough management. Unfortunately, some of these horses died and a huge rescue effort was undertaken to save the rest. While we are not sure of Mariposa's history, NWESC staff and volunteers met her and Bailey during our own rescue efforts to save these horses.

Mariposa and Bailey were rescued from an animal hoarder who had secreted them away to a different property with 6 other horses. They were thin, malnourished and full of lice and worms. In addition, Mariposa had a foal at her side (Buddy). Throughout their stay with us, Mariposa and Bailey became quite attached to each other. At a distance it was difficult to tell them apart (same color, same non-existent forelock) and if separated, they clearly suffered great distress even though they had other friends with them in the pasture.

They were truly bonded.

While no one wanted to separate these two gems, it was also a known fact that the odds of them being adopted to the same home were slim. We understand that horses are expensive and since each horse had some issues (Bailey's knee and Mariposa's trust issues)we never dreamed it would be possible for someone to take them both on, and it broke our hearts to imagine it.

Then something wonderful happened! Anne H., who for so long had been a driving force for NWESC (feeding, medicating - whatever needed to be done- rain, snow or shine) started developing such a strong bond with Mari and Bailey that she firmly believed they should stay together and should be adopted out as a pair. We so wanted that to happen but we knew in order to place these horses, we just couldn't make that a stipulation to adoption as we felt that it would be almost impossible to find such a home. However, Anne was so committed to finding them a home where they could stay together, that she decided that she would be the needle in the haystack!! She decided that she would give these horses a home with her so they could live out their lives as a bonded couple and everyone at NWESC were so very grateful to Anne.

Anne is so devoted to Mariposa and Bailey that she has just worked wonders with these two, especiallyBailey Mariposa who had some significant trust issues. When I went to visit Anne and her two charges I was just stunned at how beautiful they both looked. It is quite obvious to see that they are clearly happy and content.

Anne, you are our hero! There just could not have been a better home for them. Taking on one horse is a huge commitment, but taking on two - especially to keep them together so they can grow old together with lots to eat and all the love they could hope for - is what keeps us going. Happy anniversary Mari and Bailey! And here's to many more to come!!

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Summer's Story

Summer's Before PhotoA thick mist was coming down when the bay mare stepped off the trailer. Her head hung low, her steps were slow and calculated and everything around her was once again new and frightening. Despite her fear and pain she walked placidly to a stall filled with deep shavings, clean water and a small handful of hay.

She was starving to death and her survival was questionable. She was covered in lice, had open sores and was suffering from rain rot. But her eyes…her sad chocolate eyes held hope in them and despite her pain and emaciated state, her quiet demeanor and polite ways quickly won over the hearts of everyone who was graced with her presence. And so begins the story of Summer.

Summer arrived at NWESC on May 9, 2012. Her story, unfortunately, was not uncommon. She had been seized by Animal Control and transferred to Pasado’s Safe Haven, a local equine rescue, for further treatment. Due to her emaciated state (rating a 1 on the Hennecke Body Score Scale), Pasado’s quickly contacted NWESC to see if we would be able to help save her.

Summer came to NWESC in a deplorable condition. She needed to undergo a refeeding program to help build her weight ever so carefully. She immediately went under strict quarantine for a severe lice infestation and she needed immediate treatment for her open sores and wide spread rain rot. Yet, through it all Summer was a true lady, nickering softly for hay at feeding time, politely stepping aside to allow staff into her stall with her and savoring every moment of attention and softly spoken words.

Despite her condition – one vet commenting that she had never seen a horse this thin still alive – Summer fought a quiet battle to regain her weight and conditioning while thriving on the love she received on a daily basis from the staff at NWESC and Cedarbrook Veterinary Care.

On June 30, 2012 Summer returned to Pasado’s where we learned more about her history. Summer was a tattooed, off-the-track Thoroughbred. She raced a total of three races winning a mere $126. But the surprise was saved for last. You see Summer was named by NWESC staff as she arrived in our care at the beginning of summer. Her history was unknown to us, but now we learned that her sire’s registered name was Come Summer and we realized that we couldn’t have picked a more appropriate name for her.Summer's After Photo

With the summer season coming to an end, we are happy to share that Summer’s life is just beginning again. She remains in the care of Pasado’s, where she will receive the love and attention that she deserves while waiting to find her forever home.

Her story is a remarkable one – from a horse that shouldn’t have survived to the horse that is now thriving. Through the collaborative work with Pasado’s Safe Haven and NWESC Summer’s legacy lives on and she is now featured as one of our success stories, but really…her story has just begun.

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