As a young girl I was horse crazy, luckily my parents bought me a pony when I was seven. I remember the first time I learned about a wild horse round up, I was and vising my Grandparents in Reno, Nevada on the evening news was a piece on a round up that was occurring the next day, just a canyon away from where they lived and I remember the adults discussing how the horses would be sent to slaughter. I was beside myself with grief, how could someone do this to these beautiful wild horses? I made no sense to my seven year old heart and mind.
Southern California is blessed by an extraordinary American Wild Horse Sanctuary, a non-profit animal sanctuary and educational retreat center. Return to Freedom, Located just two hours north of Los Angeles nestled in a mountainous valley above Santa Barbara, is home to 400 wild horses and burros. The Sanctuary is the culmination of the life long dream of founder Neda DeMayo to preserve the heritage and national treasure the American Wild Horse, the Mustang.
The first modern horse was brought to the new world by the Spanish Conquistador, Hernan Cortes in 1519. In search of gold, 13 horses were brought for transportation. By the time the explorers finally departed, Native American’s inherited a treasure, the horse. The blessing of the horse changed the lives of the Native people forever and with time they became master breeders and developed the distinctive American breed’s like the Appaloosa.
Neda DeMayo, explains in a documentary film the the blood lines and DNA of these horses dates back thousands of years and once they are gone they are gone forever. She further explains “The wild horse is part of the natural environment and an irreplaceable diversity to the chain of life and deserves to be preserved in it’s natural habitat”.
The American people owe a great debt to this beautiful animal, with it’s nobility and strength helped to build America over the next 400 years until the invention of the Model T in the early 1900’s quickly made transportation by horse a distant memory.
In 1900 over two million wild horses roamed the west from Wyoming to California and today there are fewer than 20,000 roaming free on the range. There is another 50,000 held by the BLM in holding pens and a lucky few have been rescued by Sanctuary’s like Return to Freedom. The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burros Act was passed by congress and The Bureau of Land Management was put in charge of the fate of the Mustang. A BLM meeting will occur in Salt Lake City on October 29-30 2012 to discuss the further management of the free roaming wild herds.
To support the wild horse and preserve this national living treasure you can become a member of Return to Freedom. Participate in a wild horse photo safari, like the one attended to photograph the living beauty in this blog post or adopt a wild horse. Attend a Los Angeles fundraiser for Return to Freedom on Saturday Novermber, 3 2012.