Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year

by Return to Freedom Inc. , (DBA) American Wild Horse Sanctuary
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Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year
Run RTFs American Wild Horse Sanctuary for a Year

Project Report | Feb 28, 2022
New Life, Hard Work and Fighting for the Wild Ones at RTF

By RTF Team | Project Leader

Rosebud and Fig-photo Irene Vejar
Rosebud and Fig-photo Irene Vejar

Dear Friend of RTF,

There's nothing cuter than a baby horse

As we've explained previously, RTF has been a pioneer in the use of non-hormonal, reversible birth control as a humane alternative to endless family-shattering traumatic roundups on our public lands. Maintaining natural family bands and behaviors is a priority for us. 

Although this mode of population control is very effective, some mares do not respond and some births occur. This is a welcome "failure", as the loss of elderly horses, while sad, creates a void joyfully filled by the occasional new foal.

Fig was born Jan. 27 at our Lompoc, Calif., headquarters sanctuary. He is the first foal for his mother, Rosebud, who did very well during the birth despite Fig’s large size. She’s quickly proved to be a good mom and is very protective.

Rosebud, a beautiful strawberry bay roan, and Fig’s father, Jack, also a roan, are members of our Brislawn herd, a group of Spanish mustangs who arrived at our sanctuary in December 2018.

With the addition of a staff vet, Dr. Nicole Eller, Equine Staff and the horses have a consistent presence to oversee the health of the horses and herds. Thanks to a grant from Nature’s Defense Foundation, we were able to purchase portable ultrasound equipment and an autoclave to sterilize veterinary equipment. Dr Eller was also able to secure vaccine donations for a number of the horses! Having regular dentistry has helped many of the senior horses this winter.

Also, eight rescued colts have been gelded and are ready for training and adoption! Dr. Eller has also been able to review adoption and equine safety protocol, get genetic testing done on our Spanish Brislawn and Choctaw herd and get the Brislawn horses registered with the Horses of America registry. Dr. Eller updated our adoption page and we have found a wonderful home for a young mare and foal and two other Spanish mustangs, with interest in a few others as well. Thomas Smittle has gentled a number of horses to prepare them for adoption. He is currently working with five 5- year-old recently-gelded Gila horses and 2 recently-gelded Spanish Brislawn colts.

There is so much that happens at the sanctuary each and every day, but this is a glimpse into some of what has been happening!


With RTF Ranch Manager Jason back onsite, a number of ranch projects have been in the works since we last wrote. From ongoing fence repair, completing the re-fencing of the perimeter of the oak forest, to reseeding 40 acres of flat pasture for grazing, clearing out the equipment and supply area and maintaining equipment, Jason keeps ranch staff organized to complete daily ranch operations and projects.

Previously, a number of Choctaws were brought to RTF’s Jalama headquarters, due to a fire evacuation at Sindisa Sanctuary in Northern California. Jason transported them back recently after fire season, and into a newly cleared area up at Sindisa.

We received a very large donation of cedar fencing from Home Depot, some of which will go up at our San Luis Obispo satellite location.  RTF is grateful for these in-kind donations of needed materials.


As well as caring every day for nearly 500 wild horses and burros, RTF is a strong voice on the national stage working to protect whe Wild Ones still roaming freely on the range, to protect those rounded up and vulnerable to a failed adoption program, and to stop the brutal transport and slaughter of America's horses.


In early January, the Bureau of Land Management announced that it would remove “at least” a record 19,000 wild horses and burros from the range during Fiscal Year 2022, which began in October, while treating just 2,300 wild horses and burros with what it described only as “various forms of fertility control.”

This comes on the heels of BLM removing 13,666 wild horses and burros from their home ranges while treating with fertility control just 1,160 in Fiscal Year 2021. The agency estimated there were about 86,000 horses on BLM-managed public lands in March 2021.

RTF believes these removals are excessive and irresponsible -- not least because BLM is not equipped or prepared to care for another 19,000 captive wild horses and burros. The agency’s short-term holding corrals are already overcrowded. As of December, 59,007 wild horses and burros were in off-range holding, including 20,097 in overcrowded off-range corrals, 37,760 on pastureland and 1,150 on public pastures.

BLM is following an aggressive removal plan put forward to Congress in 2020, a plan focused on reaching an arbitrarily low “Appropriate Management Level” of fewer than 27,000 wild horses and burros across 10 states before implementing fertility in a real way.

RTF holds that the immediate use of safe, proven and humane fertility control to phase out future removals is long overdue. We continue to lobby Congress to hold BLM’s feet to the fire on its implementation. Otherwise, the agency will continue throwing good money after bad, removing wild horses and burros from their home ranges while failing to address reproduction.

In addition to engaging lawmakers and congressional and White House staff, RTF continues to meet with top agency officials and with other rangeland stakeholders in an effort to build support for immediate of fertility control. If mares are not treated with fertility control to slow reproduction on the range and released, these roundups will be followed by the increases to the herd populations, and then, as usual, BLM returning to remove and place more wild horses in off-range holding.

RTF remains active on a number of related issues, including calling for an outside investigation of BLM’s $1,000-per-horse Adoption Incentive Program. Under pressure from RTF and others, the BLM has made some changes intended to better protect wild horses and burros from ending up in bad homes or being sold into the foreign slaughter pipeline. More needs to be done, however – including replacing cash incentives with vouchers for veterinary care and training.

RTF also remains a leader in the fight to end horse slaughter. As of this writing, the SAFE Act to ban horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughter has amassed 211 bipartisan cosponsors in the House -- just seven shy of a majority -- but has not yet been voted out of committee. Last year, 23,431 American horses were shipped to slaughter in Mexico and Canada.

RTF supporters have sent thousands of letters to Congress on topics ranging from fertility control implementation to calling for improved humane handling standards and greater transparency regarding the handling of wild horses and burros. To join them in taking action, see “8 ways to help America’s horses” on our homepage,

None of the work you have read here or over the years, whether on the ranch or in the halls of government, would have been possible without you and our other our loyal supporters. When you support RTF, you are really supporting the wild horses and burros we all love and respect, and we are so grateful. 

For the Wild Ones, and those who stand by them,

All of Us at RTF

Filling a deep ravine from erosion caused by storm
Filling a deep ravine from erosion caused by storm
RTF Lompoc burros say hello-photo Meg Frederick
RTF Lompoc burros say hello-photo Meg Frederick
Choctaw horse fire refugees head home
Choctaw horse fire refugees head home
New autoclave in the vet room!
New autoclave in the vet room!
RTF SLO horses relax-photo Patti Walsh
RTF SLO horses relax-photo Patti Walsh


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Oct 29, 2021
From the Desk of the RTF Horses and Burros

By Team RTF | Project Leader

Jun 22, 2021
Halfway Through an RTF Year

By RTF Team | Project Leader

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Project Leader:
Jack Carone
Lompoc , CA United States
$377,841 raised of $1,000,000 goal
7,343 donations
$622,159 to go
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