Captured Calico Mustang Stallions Begin New Life Thanks To Return to Freedom

Pioneering approach seeks to re-establish family bands shattered in BLM roundup

A gorgeous buckskin Calico stallion was acquired this month by Return to Freedom, after he was shipped to Oklahoma and declined by the buyer who purchased him in an online auction. Soon he will join the 18 other Calico stallions and a mare and her foal, all rescued by Return to Freedom (RTF) in a pioneering effort to re-establish the family bands that were shattered in the Bureau of Land Management's roundup in Nevada's Calico Mountains Complex in January 2010.

UPDATE: OCTOBER 14, 2010

Mr. Buckskin & his friend just before they left Oklahoma on their journey back to Nevada

During his time in Oklahoma, "Mr. Buckskin" befriended a bay gelding who was also captured in Calico. BLM told us that Mr. Buckskin was calmed and comforted by this horse's presence, so Return to Freedom adopted him too. As I write this, both horses are in transport, making their way back to their home state of Nevada, where they will join the 18 other studs captured in the Calico roundup and rescued by RTF.

Preserving the Calico Mustangs

Many of the rescued stallions are senior studs who are known to have been the leaders of their family bands.

“These elder stallions represent leadership and wisdom for the Calico herds,” said DeMayo. “These noble horses, once free on the range and now held captive, symbolize the tragedy of the federal wild horse program.”

In July, Return to Freedom placed the winning bids for eight of the horses in an online BLM auction, said Neda DeMayo, founder and CEO. Ten additional stallions were acquired a month later from BLM after Return to Freedom learned that some intact Calico studs remained in BLM holding pens. In September, the nineteenth stallion, a gorgeous senior buckskin, was rescued by Return to Freedom after he was shipped to Oklahoma but declined by the buyer who purchased him in the online auction.

Return to Freedom, in a unique partnership with Soldier Meadows Ranch and Lodge, intends to create a wild horse preserve and return these horses to private lands adjacent to the home ranges from which they were captured in January. Return to Freedom will undertake a pioneering effort to re-establish family bands for the stallions by adopting and purchasing mares and matching them to stallions captured from the same herd management areas.

The proposal also includes the creation of a model program for on-the-range management of the wild horses that reside in the three herd management areas encompassed by Soldier Meadows Ranch's public grazing allotment. The proposal, which would provide a cost-effective model for on-the-range management of wild horses in order to avoid mass roundups and removals every few years, is being considered by BLM.

“This rescue is a gesture of restitution for what has been taken from these horses and an affirmation of our commitment to fundamental change in the BLM wild horse program,” DeMayo said.

Between Dec. 28, 2009, and Feb. 4, BLM captured 1,922 horses from five Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in the Calico Mountains Complex in northwestern Nevada. More than 140 horses died as a result of the roundup and an additional 40 heavily pregnant mares spontaneously aborted, according to DeMayo.

On September 1, 18 of the rescued stallions were moved to temporary quarters at holding corrals in Fallon, Nevada while they await creation of the Return to Freedom/Soldier Meadows Ranch Wild Horse Preserve. Read more about the stallions beginning their new life here.

The rescued horses include:

General (#1363), 22-year old band stallion. Captured on January 16, 2010 from the Warm Springs HMA.

Commander (#1334), 25-year old stallion. Loyal companion to General. Captured on January 16, 2010 from Warm Springs HMA.

True (#1322), 2-year old son of General. Captured January 16, 2010 from Warm Springs HMA.

Tomahawk (#1366), 12-year old stallion. Captured on January 16, 2010 from Warm Springs HMA.

Redman (#1385), 17 year old stallion. Best friend of Tomahawk. Captured on January 16, 2010 from Warm Springs HMA.

Ranger (#1307), 12-year old Buckskin stallion. Captured Jan 29, 2010 in the Calico HMA. Rescued by Return to Freedom after he was shipped to Oklahoma and his buyer in an online auction declined to take him.

Fog (#1308), 4-year old pinto stallion. Captured January 29, 2010 from the Calico HMA.

Mist, (#1361), 4-year old stallion. Captured January ?, 2010 from Black Rock West HMA.

Önder (#1711) 17-year old stallion. Captured January 2, 2010 from Black Rock East HMA.

Raya and Mia, Captured January 27, 2010, Granite Range

Beautiful paint mare and foal adjusting to temporary quarters at Fallon.

Photos taken by Laura Leigh show several of the ten stallions rescued by Return to Freedom after BLM's July online auction and before the agency gelded them. More details on ages, when and from which HMA they were captured to follow soon!

Elvis (#1347), 6-year old palomino stallion. Captured January 20, 2010, Warm Springs HMA.

Apollo (#1246), 7-year old palomino stallion captured. January 29, 2010 from Calico HMA

El Presidente (#1255), 6 year old stallion. Captured January 29, 2010 from Calico HMA

7 year old sorrel stallion (#1324), Captured January 20, 2010 from Warm Springs HMA

8-year old stallion (#1547), Captured January 20, 2010 from Warm Springs HMA.

Leaf (#1715), 8-year old stallion. Captured January 2, 2010, Black Rock East

8-year old stallion (#1262), Captured on January 29, 2010 from Calico HMA.

Tornado (#1535), 9-year old stallion. Captured January 20, 2010 from Warm Springs HMA

Phoenix (#1834), 2-year old stallion. Captured on January 5, 2010 from Black Rock West HMA

Black Moon (#1401), 7-year old stallion. Captured on January 20, 2010 from Warm Springs.

To support this rescue and the historic quest to reunite these majestic stallions with their mares and re-establish their family bands, please donate to Return to Freedom and specify "Calico Rescue Fund".