Thoroughbred Anakin's story touched horse lovers nationwide, many of whom donated to help the horse recover.

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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.”