Nov 27, 2018

Hard Work and Gratitude

Gila Herd Members
Gila Herd Members

All of us at Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary are grateful, every day, to the caring people who have donated to keep this mission going strong.

Sanctuary

As well as the other important projects necessary to keep this large project in motion, in every other spare minute we are clearing our river edge of brush, and removing the over-growth near our creek beds as a pre-fire control. The recent and tragic California fires underline the necessity of this ongoing task.

From October 8th to the 22nd, our Ranch Manager and another hand transported the rescued Gila herd (from last year’s historic rescue) from Bieber, CA to Alturas, CA, using the ranch pick-up and 24-ft stock trailer. They corralled 108 horses—stallions, mares and colts and an older horse, hauling two loads a day to move them. The whole transport, a very big job, was done with no problems and also well under budget. This is important to us, as we are respectful of the funds our loyal donors sacrifice to give. Our thanks to them, and to Jason and Thomas for a job well done! (see the related video, narrated by RTF Founder Neda DeMayo, at the link.)

Our ranch hands also have done maintenance on our 20,000-gallon water cistern.  The long California drought requires us to haul water from another location to fill our tanks, so we treat water like gold here at the Sanctuary.

We also began working with our satellite ranch in Los Alamos to initiate a small hay production of approximately 20 acres to cut our hay costs and as a hedge on the availability of good hay, for which there is increasing competition.

On alternate days. two hands from RTF also drove to our San Luis Obispo satellite location to feed hay and check the horses’ water.  We maintain and oversee 75 animals on this sprawling ranch.

Although we have just a small team to do all this work, they are not only knowledgeable, but fiercely loyal to our Sanctuary residents, consistently going above and beyond the call of duty, making the most of our supporters’ donations.

Advocacy

As well as operating the Sanctuary, Return to Freedom continues to lobby lawmakers and government officials in Washington, D.C., and to strengthen grassroots support on behalf of wild horses and burros as well as opposing horse slaughter. 

RTF supports the use of safe, proven and humane fertility control, as used at our sanctuary, to move government agencies away from the inhumane, costly and ineffective rounding up and warehousing of wild horses and burros, instead providing them with a secure future on their rightful range.

In September, Return to Freedom’s biologist and conservation science program coordinator, Celeste Carlisle, was appointed to the nine-member National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. Carlisle, who manages RTF’s fertility control program, will represent advocates on the advisory board. At the board’s meeting in October, the board voted 5-2 to support killing healthy wild horses and burros and allow unlimited sales to reach government population targets (with Carlisle and Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation opposed). Carlisle and Kathrens also opposed permanent sterilization. RTF’s Carlisle did succeed in persuading the members of the board to vote 4-3 to say the board prefers “nonlethal management options for population control purposes when possible.” 

Return to Freedom is also active in a pair of lawsuits, joining other advocacy organizations to file suit to stop the planned unrestricted sale by the Forest Service, without any prohibition against kill buyers, of wild horses captured at Devils Garden Wild Horse Territory in Northern California. RTF has also worked with potential buyers and adopters that want to provide homes for captured horses so that they won’t go to slaughter.

RTF has also joined other advocates as interveners in a suit filed by Beaver County, Utah, which would threaten wild horses and tie the hands of those that manage them. The county wants to force the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to immediately remove “excess” wild horses from the Sulphur Herd Management Area. RTF and the other advocates are seeking to protect the historically and genetically important Sulphur wild horses from removal from their federally designated habitat and, importantly, to preserve BLM’s ability to manage the wild horse population on the range by using tools like safe, proven, and humane fertility control vaccines.

We say it often, because it’s true, that we can’t do any of this work without the help of many caring people. We can’t all be in a truck moving wild horses, or in Washington, DC, in the halls of government, but we can all help make their care and protection possible in our own ways.

Thanks from all of us at Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary. 

Gilas On The Move
Gilas On The Move
Gilas Have A Drink
Gilas Have A Drink
Celeste Carlisle
Celeste Carlisle
Adoption Webinar Invitation
Adoption Webinar Invitation
Devils Garden Roundup 2016 Photo: Steve Paige
Devils Garden Roundup 2016 Photo: Steve Paige

Links:

Oct 31, 2018

Video Field Report: RTF Relocates the Gila Herd

Thank you for your generous support to Return to Freedom for the continued care for the Gila herd. We would like to share this update, Video Field Report: RTF Relocates the Gila Herd, with you chronicling their relocation to a new leased property--we hope you enjoy it!

With gratitude, 

All of us at RTF

 

About the Gila Herd

The horses were originally captured from Federal land in Arizona in 2003. At this time, the only horses still free ranging in Arizona from this herd are on Maricopa tribal lands and are intermingled with other breeds. These horses carry a history believed to stretch from wooden ships and Jesuit missionary Padre Eusebio Kino’s 17th century arrival in Arizona through a wild herd that lived in relative isolation in Arizona, was captured by the government after conflicts with ranchers, and was taken to a sanctuary in South Dakota that later fell on troubled times. In shades of earth and charcoal, striped legs and dorsal stripes, they look as though they’ve walked out of a cave painting, draped in the mystery of the ancient past. In February 2017, in an effort to maintain this herd intact and to reorganize the herd now made of 13 generations, RTF was asked to take 112 Gila horses (including pregnant mares). Thank you for joining us in the next chapter of their story.

Links:

Sep 17, 2018

Winter's Coming, So The Pressure's On

Daisy, Manzana, Estella and Midnight Dining
Daisy, Manzana, Estella and Midnight Dining

HAY, HAY EVERYDAY…

While we’ve been busy making sure the RTF horses’ hay is protected from the elements, we have also had to scramble to keep hay in it!

To those who have already chipped in for the Hay Shelter, our sincere thanks! 

Most may not realize it, but by donating here for the repair and completion of the hay shelter, our supporters also help us feed horses by freeing up our other funds for hay. It’s a double benefit. 

So a double thank you is in order.

Some needs pop up unexpectedly, and some arise just occasionally, but horses, like us, eat every day. And the only way that has happened dependably for 20 years, is that our RTF supporters chip in what they can, when they can, to fill our hay shed and give us freedom to work on big-picture issues.  

Some thoughts about the hay your hay shelter donation helps to protect….and why your donation to the shelter also helps us buy more hay…

Aside from water, hay is the single most precious commodity for a horse sanctuary like this one. RTF’s main location in Lompoc is not large enough to grow hay, and the recent years of drought have decimated what little forage there would have been in the past. Although our San Luis Obispo satellite location is larger, this past winter was very dry and we will need to begin supplementing their meals earlier this year with the bales of “green gold”. 

And every minute we have to devote to finding funds to buy hay is a minute our work to protect the wild horses still on the range and in government holding slows down. While we care deeply about them—ALL of them—the horses to whom we’ve made individual promises of lifetime care have to be cared for first. They are right outside our office door. 

As a business reality, the more money we have in hand when we call the hay supplier, the better we can stretch our donors’ hard-earned dollars. We are always aware whose money we are spending, and we honor that trust fiercely. 

Keeping that hay dry and protected is as important as buying it, and that’s where you can help now.  Winter will be here before we know it, and the weather will be less forgiving of an almost-complete structure. We still have building supplies to buy and laborers to pay, but if we can raise the rest of our goal quickly, we can get the shelter secure and sturdy for the less mild season ahead.

Whether helping to build the protective shelter or filling it, it’s as if you are on the truck with us, rolling through the pastures as grateful horses gather around excitedly for their much-awaited feast. 

As we continue our work to complete the indispensable hay shelter you are helping to make possible, we hope to “see” you on the hay truck, today, tomorrow, and as long as wild horses need us. 

With gratitude,

All of us at RTF

The Hay Shed- Doing the Job in Good Weather
The Hay Shed- Doing the Job in Good Weather
RTF Burros Appreciate the Protected Hay
RTF Burros Appreciate the Protected Hay
Volunteers Load the Hay Truck with Nice Clean Hay
Volunteers Load the Hay Truck with Nice Clean Hay
Hondo Eating Hay With His Friend Maisie
Hondo Eating Hay With His Friend Maisie
Joaquin and Ranger Chowing Down in Lompoc
Joaquin and Ranger Chowing Down in Lompoc
 
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