A holiday message from Return to Freedom

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Members of RTF’s Choctaw herd. Photo by Irene Vejar.

Dear Friends,

There’s much that we can learn from the natural world when we pause and pay attention.

Those who find the presence of wild horses inconvenient diminish them as an “invasive species” or “feral.” Driven by money or politics, critics ignore that horses evolved on our continent, emphasizing instead how, after being reintroduced, wild horses descended from runaways or cast-offs, here a cavalry horse or there a workhorse.

Sometimes, they dismiss wild horses as runty or otherwise inadequate: mutts, or worse.

Yet, the people who learn about, and grow to love, wild horses understand that the opposite is true: We know that the Spanish reintroduced wild horses to the land on which they first evolved, and that they returned to a natural state. We know of the vital importance of horses and burros to the story of our country. And we feel inspired by these proven survivors that are all the more beautiful because they come in myriad sizes and colors.

Spend even a short time at our sanctuary, or on the range, and you see that while wild horses squabble amongst each other and possess myriad personalities – stubborn or wise, troublemaker or peacemaker – they find a way to live together.

They look out for one another.

Likewise, the qualities of our nation’s remarkable wild horses often bring people of all ages, shapes, sizes, backgrounds – and even politics – together.

It’s not easy. Last week marked the 45th anniversary of the federal Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, yet we are still left wincing at video of helicopter roundups and news of climbing numbers in off-range holding. We read with concern about the growing demands of the energy industry, the political pull of ranchers, the way one species is pitted against another, and suggestions that we sell off or remove protections from public lands on which wild horses roam.

So we sign petitions. Make calls. Donate. We push proposals for humane oversight.

Together, we look out for wild horses and burros as best we can.

We are drawn to wild horses, and so we are drawn together — into the growing strength of our herd of wild horse supporters.

Imperfect though we may be, squabble though we might, together we work to make a better future for America’s wild horses and burros. We won’t quit, because wild horses don’t quit.

This holiday season — and every day — that’s worth celebrating.

Best wishes to you and your family,

Neda DeMayo and the RTF Team