Return To Freedom Thu, 05 May 2016 06:17:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Celebrating Love on Mother’s Day 2016! Thu, 05 May 2016 02:03:49 +0000 DSC_7986

Mother’s Day is just a few days away. While you celebrate the very special bond you share with your mother, wild horse and burro families will be doing the same at Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary!

Mothers shape the character of the young foals from the moment they are born – wild horses and burros are nurtured and educated by their mothers, the herd and also benefit from the vital role of the band stallion as well. The love, loyalty and protection a mare gives her foals as unconditional as the love we share with our mothers.

Thanks to you and all of our compassionate supporters, Return to Freedom has been able to provide a safe environment where captured wild horses and burros can live as natural a life as possible.

In honor of Mother’s Day, please consider giving your mother a very special gift – by sponsoring a horse or burro in her name …


Scarlet and Majesty. Photo: Melony Smith

Scarlet and Majesty. Photo: Melony Smith

Scarlett is a beautiful red roan mare. In 1998, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed a total removal of all wild horses living on the Hart Mountain Refuge in Southern Oregon. All 279 horses were removed. These horses are a combination of Spanish barbs, morgan, and draft horses that helped early ranchers carve an existence out in these remote and rocky areas in the Great Basin. Scarlett lives with 45 other Hart Mountain horses at Return to Freedom’s, American Wild Horse Sanctuary.

You can make a donation to Scarlett in honor or in memory of your mother on paypal here!



Chela, Calico Blue Roan Mare.

Chela, a Calico Blue Roan Mare.

Chela, born in 1998, is a beautiful blue roan mare who is now safe at Return to Freedom’s Wild Horse Sanctuary. A survivor of the 2009 Calico Roundup, where nearly 2000 wild horses were captured. Chela lost her family, her foal and her freedom on December 31, 2009. She is from the Black Rock West HMA in the Calico Mountain Complex, Northwestern Nevada.

You can make a donation to Chela in honor or in memory of your mother on paypal here!


Black Mountain Burro mother and foal at the sanctuary

Black Mountain Burro, mother and foal at the sanctuary ( Photo: Steve Paige)

The Black Mountain Burros were captured from their Herd Management Area in Arizona in 2015 and brought to Return to Freedom. The “jennies” arrived pregnant and 4 baby burros were born at the sanctuary.

You can make a donation to Lizzie and her daughter Carly in honor or in memory of your mother on paypal here!


Download these photos on card stock or email them to your mother! For donation’s over $20 we will send a handsome certificate for your mom!

RTF-SLO-7318 2


Stella and Celine Photo by: Susan Papa

Stella and Celine, Photo by: Susan Papa

House Committee Approves Provision to Block Horse Slaughter In U.S.A. Wed, 20 Apr 2016 10:02:34 +0000  Some Good News For America’s Horses- On to The Senate

No horse slaughter 2017

The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted to keep the provision in the agriculture appropriations bill, which prevents federal funding for horse slaughter house inspections. The bill was introduced by Reps. Sam Farr, D – Calif., and Charlie Dent, R – Pa., and passed by a  slim margin in a 25-23 vote Tuesday April 19.

Check the list below and if your Congressman/woman voted to protect the horses, take a moment to shoot them an email and thank them.

Congressional legislators who voted in favor for the language were: 

Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Michael Honda (D-CA),  Steve Israel (D-NY), David Jolly (R-FL), David Joyce (R-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), David Price (D-NC), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Tom Rooney (R-FL), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Peter Visclosky (D-IN), Kevin Yoder (R-KS).

Legislators who voted against the bill were:

Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Ken Calvert (R-CA), John Carter (R-TX), Tom Cole (R-OK), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ),  Kay Granger (R-TX), Tom Graves (R-GA), Andy Harris (R-MD),  Jaime Herrera Buetler (R-WA), Evan Jenkins (R-WV), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Scott Rigell (R-VA), Martha Roby (R-AL), Hal Rogers (R-KY), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Chris Stewart (R-UT), David Valadao (R-CA), Steve Womack (R-AR), David Young (R-IA).
Not voting: 

Henry Cuellar (D-TX), John Culberson (R-TX), Chaka Fattah (D-PA).

The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider a similar amendment to the budget bill.

If your Senator is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, you can write them a personalized email respectful in tone, introducing yourself, as their constituent. Let them know that when the Senate  votes on the 2017 appropriations bill, you will count on their support for America’s horses and urge them to vote for any Amendments which will continue to defund horse slaughter operations.  As their constituent you expect them to represent how your tax dollars are spent and you stand with 80% of Americans who do not want to their tax dollars to subsidize horse slaughter. Americans do not eat horses and we respect them as a vital part of our living history.

1) To Find your Senator Click Here:

You can find out if they are on the Appropriations Committee

The fate of America’s horses is ultimately in their hands but we can all make a difference.

Stop Experimenting on Wild Horses and start Experiencing Them Tue, 19 Apr 2016 03:05:48 +0000

BLM AGREES TO BEEF UP LIVESTOCK RANGE CONDITION REPORTS Mon, 18 Apr 2016 11:25:54 +0000 Data Quantifying and Qualifying Grazing Effects on Land Health Belatedly Restored

Posted by PEER on Apr 18, 2016 | Tags: BLM, Grazing Reform

WWP_Little_Lost_River_Valley_GRSG_habitat_ID-2Washington, DC — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has agreed to restore key data to reports measuring how well vast federal rangelands are protected from damaging overgrazing in response to an administrative complaint filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The restored data reflects whether overgrazing or other factors are degrading the condition of 150 million acres of federal rangelands across a 13-state area covering most of the West.

The PEER complaint was filed in December 2014 under the Data Quality Act, which requires federal reports – especially those that are statistical in nature – to be complete, unbiased and of the highest accuracy and utility. The complaint targeted BLM’s 2013 Rangeland Inventory, Monitoring, and Evaluation (RIME) report, released a month prior, which is supposed to detail which lands are failing to meet range health standards for water, vegetation, soils and the ability to support wildlife. That 2013 report, and subsequent reports, omitted key data displayed in previous reports which showed –

  • The number and land area of grazing allotments meeting and failing rangeland health standards;
  • The reasons for violations of land health standards, such as whether it was due to overgrazing or from other causes; and
  • Whether land conditions are improving or declining or whether BLM is taking any management steps to restore degraded rangeland.

“Without this data, it is difficult for Congress and the public to measure the success or failure of BLM’s rangeland management,” said PEER Advocacy Director Kirsten Stade, who had labelled the incomplete report as “RIME without reason.” “We found it hard to believe that something as slow-moving as grazing livestock could not be adequately monitored.”

BLM initially rejected the PEER complaint but granted its appeal in a letter dated February 12, 2016. In subsequent communications, BLM indicated that it will correct not only the 2013 RIME report but the 2014 and 2015 editions, as well. The BLM had blamed a failed computerized mapping system as the reason it had stopped displaying import landscape health data.

BLM claims that it will develop new data reporting and mapping standards later this year, but has rebuffed suggestions that the agency put these changes out for peer review. Moreover, the agency has yet to provide much insight into what format this reporting system will take. BLM did not respond to an offer for free use of the Grazing Data Interactive Map developed by PEER, which web-displays data from BLM’s Land Health Status record system overlaid with high-resolution satellite imagery, permitting users to actually eyeball the land health conditions.

“PEER is tracking the disturbing trend of worsening range conditions across the 20,000 BLM grazing allotments,” added Stade, noting that much of the missing data covers the period when drought conditions across much of the Sagebrush West worsened. “We are concerned that BLM is poised to repeat the same mistakes by developing a new monitoring system behind closed doors that obscures rather than reveals the real conditions on public rangelands. Why should data about public lands grazing be kept secret?”

Read More From PEER:

PEER: Wild Horses 

Read BLM letter granting PEER appeal

See the PEER Data Quality Act complaint

Visit the PEER Grazing & Mapping website

Look at PEER’s successful appeal

View BLM emails explaining further relief

]]> Wyoming’s Wild Horses under siege: Still Time to Take Action Sun, 17 Apr 2016 23:32:45 +0000

The Giving Grid- a Fun way to donate to help the Sanctuary! Wed, 13 Apr 2016 08:56:12 +0000

Promises Kept – Sarge’s Mare arriving to Return to Freedom Now Wed, 13 Apr 2016 02:42:19 +0000 Promise leaving BLM corrals today, April 12, 2016

Promise leaving BLM corrals today, April 12, 2016

We kept our promise… she is on her way. Promise is on her way to Return to Freedom now!

A few short weeks ago, we wrote about a stallion named “Sarge”.

One year ago, Sarge’s lead mare with their colt by her side, was captured- never to be returned to the range. A few months later, Sarge was also taken from his home range and, at 15 years old, taken to a BLM holding facility for adoption.

Sarge finally arrived at Return to Freedom and settled in quickly.

We were able to track down his lead mare – known to us only as #1489– we had her shipped to  A California BLM facility and as I am writing this, RTF Equine Program Consultant, Shelly Martin, is on her way back to the sanctuary with precious cargo!  We have named her “Promise”, because we promised.

She was the lead mare to Sarge’s band and actually helped him drive other stallions away.. separated a year ago after the round up at Fish Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) in Eureka Nevada… they have found their way back together.

Shelly should be pulling in any moment, we hope before dark.  She said Promise was pretty nervous and we have prepared a nice size corral and shelter for her right across an alley in sight of Sarge. Once she settles down and is through a quarantine period, they will be released onto 2000 rolling acres… together.

Mission accomplished!

We will keep you posted!!

Shout out and special thanks to those who made this possible, Laura Leigh/Wild Horse Education, Chris Fairbanks, Clare Staples.

UPDATE, Click here to watch video: Promise arrives


Donate to Support horses like Sarge and Promise

You can help with a one time donation online or by mail. All donations no matter how large or small, are needed and appreciated! your support makes it possible to provide sanctuary for a lifetime, educational programs, national advocacy and conservation.

To mail your donation to Return to Freedom, please make your check or money order payable to Return to Freedom and mail to: Return to Freedom, P.O. Box 926, Lompoc, CA 93438




Update April 11, 2016, Senate passes bill to protect Salt River wild horses Tue, 12 Apr 2016 06:57:42 +0000
Photo Courtesy of Salt River Management Group

Photo Courtesy of Salt River Management Group

The Senate passed legislation today in a landslide vote of 27-2  that will provide protection to the wild horses that have been living near Arizona’s Salt River.

HB 2340, provides a mechanism to manage the herd of approximately 100 horses that live around the Lower Salt River and Saguaro Lake in a cooperative partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the State Department of Agriculture , the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department and the public.

Rep. Kelly Townsend of Mesa, Arizona sponsored the proposal that will make it illegal to harass, shoot, kill or slaughter a horse that is part of the Salt River herd.

In February, the bill passed in the House where it will now return for final amendments before it will be signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey.

The preservation of the Salt River horses has had unrelenting support from the Salt River Management Group, The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) , local and national advocates, and the Arizona community.

Thank you ~ we all have something to celebrate!

Find out more

News Links:

Montecito Bank & Trust turns 41, Awards Anniversary Grants to Local Nonprofits Mon, 04 Apr 2016 03:10:43 +0000 On behalf of all of us at Return to Freedom, we thank Larry Edwards for the nomination, for the Montecito Bank and Trust Anniversary Awards. Special thanks to Wendie Malick for making the PSA!

MBT grants award webThis Article was Published 3/22/16, Noozhawk, By Jamie Perez for Montecito Bank & Trust.

Montecito Bank & Trust celebrated its 41st anniversary in familiar fashion Thursday, March 17, awarding Anniversary Grants to 10 local nonprofit organizations.

Each year for the past 24 years, the bank has celebrated by giving its associates the opportunity to nominate and vote for the organizations that receive the special Anniversary               Grants award and $2,000 towards continuing their missions.

Janet A. Garufis, president and CEO said, “Anniversary Grants is one of my favorite MB&T events. Since our beginning on March 17, 1975, giving back to our community has been one of our most important corporate values. What better way to celebrate MB&T’s 41 years of success in serving the banking needs of our communities than by inviting our associates to nominate and select the community organizations that will be recognized.

“I am so proud of our dedicated employee volunteers,” she said. “They’re out there every day, on the job and giving of their personal time as well, fulfilling our corporate mission and vision of making the communities we serve better places to live and work. Their passion for our Anniversary Grants tradition is an inspiration!  We are also especially grateful to Cox for their contribution of promotional videos for each of our Grantees. The longstanding partnership is truly valued.”

 Montecito Bank & Trust congratulates the Anniversary Grants Class of 2016: Angels Foster Care of Santa Barbara, Atterdag Village of Solvang Auxiliary, C.A.R.E4Paws, Child Abuse Listening Mediation, Dons Net Café, Easy Lift Transportation, Inc., Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) – Central Coast Council, Old Yeller Ranch Rescue, Return to Freedom and Santa Barbara Choral Society.

The bank would also like to offer a special thanks to its corporate partner, Cox Communications, for generously producing a short promotional video which showcases each of the recipients’ extraordinary work.

In addition to the funding, Anniversary Grants recipients appreciate these Cox videos as an invaluable resource to continue their fundraising efforts.

​— Jamie Perez is the community outreach and events manager at Montecito Bank & Trust.

More News on MBT Anniversary Grant Awards

For the Love of a Horse Named Sarge ~ A Promise Fri, 01 Apr 2016 00:57:20 +0000 sarge


Dear Friends,

We talk a lot about wild horses-plural…

But as I look out at the horses living peacefully here at the Sanctuary, it’s clear that, like us, these are distinct individuals, who in turn make up family bands and herds. Their family groups are as sacred to them as ours are to us, and this terrible loss is the invisible suffering of the horse families rounded up from their rightful ranges and splintered-forever.

Like Sarge…

Sarge was part of a herd living in Nevada, a state with more wild horses than all the other states combined. He was a band stallion who fought loyally to keep his family together, year after year. For his last 4 years on the range, he had forged a deep bond with his lead mare. This bay mare fiercely helped Sarge fight off other band stallions!

Sarge's lead mare and colt, home on the range, 2015. Photo CreditL Laura Leigh/Wild Horse Education

Sarge’s lead mare and colt, home on the range, 2015. Photo Credit: Laura Leigh/Wild Horse Education

Advocate Laura Leigh had been photographing the Fish Creek herd and watched this devoted and fearless mare help Sarge chase off intruding stallions.

Sarge, easy to spot in the wide-open valley as you pull into Fish Creek, became a pawn in the long conflict between special interests and advocates who love the horses.

As a young colt, he was removed from the range without permission, and dumped back on the range, alone, two years later.

Then, this past February, Sarge’s lead mare with their colt by her side, was captured- never to be returned to the range. A few months later, Sarge was also taken from his home range and, at 15 years old, taken to a BLM holding facility for adoption.  Although there were more than 200 Fish Creek horses in holding looking for homes, only Sarge was offered on the internet for adoption, presumably to create a stir, and it worked…

As a “celebrity”, fierce competition for him drove the bidding to a record price, especially for a 15 year-old, clubfooted stallion with broken teeth. Happily, the wild horse advocate, Chris Fairbanks who won the bid was determined to send Sarge to Return to Freedom. With additional support from a compassionate wild horse advocate following the drama unfolding on social media, Sarge was transported comfortably to the Sanctuary!

But Sarge’s ordeal was not yet over. Special interests tried to stop his sale, even as the trailer arrived to free him.

Happily, in the end, Sarge would leave this madness behind…

Why did the Fish Creek horses have to leave their home? With the increasing impact of the drought, the horse population grew too large to maintain a healthy range to sustain both the horses and the privately owned livestock grazing there.

Of course, the horses don’t know why humans do what they do. They only know the trauma of the roundup and the loss of everything they cherished in their world. Sarge only knows loss.

Sarge, out of quarantine and ready to rock and roll!

Sarge, out of quarantine and ready to rock and roll!

Sarge finally arrived at Return to Freedom and settled in quickly.

Soon, with the help of you and many horse defenders like you, we have been able to track down his lead mare shown here in her holding pen-known to us only as #1489– and next week, we will reunite Sarge with his loyal mare. We have named her “Promise”, because we promised.





Donate to Support horses like Sarge and Promise

You can help with a one time donation online or by mail. All donations no matter how large or small, are needed and appreciated! your support makes it possible to provide sanctuary for a lifetime, educational programs, national advocacy and conservation.

To mail your donation to Return to Freedom, please make your check or money order payable to Return to Freedom and mail to: Return to Freedom, P.O. Box 926, Lompoc, CA 93438


I wish so much you could be there-but we will document that happy day, and to share it with you down the trail!

I can’t say strongly enough just how much a part of Return to Freedom you and our other friends are, and how grateful we are to have you on our team.

When we stand there at a roundup, watching with horror and sadness the ear-splitting helicopter overhead chasing horses from their freedom and loved ones, you are at our side, bearing witness with us.

When we get a call asking if RTF will step in to save a horse like Sarge, so that he can live in the safety of the sanctuary, you whisper in my ear, “YES, we can do it!”

Your support inspires us to go the extra mile to track down and reunite some of the fragmented families in holding pens and to push for humane solutions to keep our wild horses and burros on the range.

It’s only knowing that we have always been able to count on our supporters that allows the RTF team to forge ahead with confidence that our friends have our backs.

Now, more than ever, the horses need us–all of us–to pull together and implement solutions that keep them where they ought to be-happy, healthy and together-running freely under the big sky.

We don’t take your help for granted.

I do hope that the progress we are making, not only for Sarge and the other RTF residents, but for all the 50,000 nameless horses in government holding facilities and those at risk of losing their freedom and families on the range, inspires you.

We hope you know that everyone who makes a donation, and /or calls and writes letters to their Representatives, is an important part of the bright new day we work so hard to create for our American wild horses and burros.

It’s the only way we can win the battles ahead for all the other horses like Sarge and Promise.  Please stand with us.

We need you.

To the Wild Ones, and to the people like you, who love, respect, and fight for them,

Neda DeMayo, Founder and President

To Help Return to Freedom support horses like Sarge and Promise, please make a contribution today!


P.S. My deepest thanks to all who have sponsored RTF horses and burros! There are still sanctuary residents who need a special someone to speak for them.

Please visit and to find a new friend who will appreciate every bite of hay and the rest of the loving care provided by your gift!


RTF_TeesVisit our store for clothes, books, posters and great gifts, and to help us take care of the nearly 400 horses at our sanctuary! You can shop and help us continue our work on behalf of America’s horses at the sanctuary and to protect them in the wild!