Can you help us get this wild family back together again?

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Happy Holidays for all: Misun and his family band. Photo by Meg Frederick, graphic by Lori Judd.

During the harsh winter of 2018-2019, a young mustang, Hotah, got caught up in a barbed-wire fence hidden by heavy snow. Covered in lacerations and unable to move, he suffered alone until a kind Grey Stallion came and stood by him until he could fight his way free. They became fast friends until humans with helicopters took them away from their home and each other…

Dear Friends,

The horses in this story needed a miracle badly. Thanks to two determined photographers, they got it.

Hotah, whose name means strong, was born in April of 2014. He and his older brother, Misun, played together endlessly, and in a few years, became part of a bachelor band. They never strayed far from each other on the 700,000 acres of Wyoming’s Red Desert. As time went by, Misun became a band stallion with a growing harem of mares, but like his grandfather, Romeo, Misun allowed his brother Hotah to remain close by. He also let his mother, Bella, his grandmother and his sister Tata Wakan remain with his band—three generations!

But their world crashed on Oct. 16, 2020, with the roar of a helicopter. Misun, his mares, young foals and yearlings all ran for their lives. Litter Rosie, just 3 months old, struggled to keep up with her mother, Dahlia.

The members of Misun’s family band lost their freedom – and each other.

A contractor’s helicopter pursues wild horses near the trap site on the Red Desert Complex in Wyoming on Oct. 10, 2020. Photo by Meg Frederick.

But that’s also when their miracle began. Thanks to photographers Angelique and Meg, who have documented many Wyoming herds, we were able to find and secure all but one member of Misun’s family band in BLM off-range holding facilities. The matriarch lovingly called Grandma is believed to have died as a result of her capture, an all-too-common roundup tragedy.

Locating and reclaiming this family was a long and winding trail. Angelique went on behalf of Return to Freedom to identify and hopefully adopt three of Misun’s foals who were 3-6 months old when they ran alongside their mothers during the roundup. Angelique stood in line at 4 a.m. in freezing weather at the Rock Springs Wyoming corrals and was able to find Little Romeo, Isabelle and Rose so they could be brought to RTF’s sanctuary!

A few months later, Meg found Misun’s brother Hotah and Ares, a stallion whose band was on the range with Misun’s. They were found at an off-site adoption event in Colorado, then brought to RTF’s sanctuary.

Months later still, our hero photographer Meg was given just four hours to locate horses from among about 2,000 in Cañon City, Colo., corrals. She found Misun and the rest of Misun’s band of mares: Bella, Sunflower, Angel and Dahlia, all with new foals born in holding corrals. Meg was very excited to find Misun and Hotah’s sister Tata Wakan, and Ares’s lead mare, Gracie. We were especially happy to also find the brave and loyal Grey Stallion— now named Greyson—who had been Hotah’s guardian angel on the range!

Against all odds, RTF was able to adopt all of them and began transporting them to the sanctuary.

Each new rescue, as happy as we are to achieve them, increases our costs. Years of drought and increased buyer competition have caused hay prices to soar by 35% in the last year! This winter, feed costs at the sanctuary are at an all-time high of $56,000 a month to support nearly 500 wild horses and burros. Will you please give what you can to help the sanctuary and our 17 new residents?

Hotah and Grayson on the range. Photo by Angelique Rea.

This beautiful wild family band is unique in that Misun, the lead stallion, still has his mother, Bella, his sister Tata Wakan, and his brother Hotah in his band. They were never far from each other on the range. We can only imagine their devastation when they were taken from each other and their relief at finding themselves together again.

This is what inspires us to keep on fighting to phase out nearly 50 years of roundups, captures, trauma and loss…

RTF can only be a part of these family miracles because of people like you who share our passion for defending and protecting these national treasures, America’s wild horses. Their families and friends are as important to them as ours are to us.

Thanks to you, this once-shattered family is coming back together, can heal from the trauma and continue to live their lives within the safe refuge of RTF’s sanctuary.

Are you able to help us welcome and support Misun’s family band, the two bachelors and Ares and Grace to the sanctuary? Your support today has a direct and positive life-saving impact.

We are so grateful that we can give back some of what these wild horses have lost, but we can’t do it without you. Here are two ways you can help:

—You can sponsor one of the reunited Red Desert wild horses. Sponsorships save lives and makes it possible to give back some of what these wild horses and burros lost when they were captured and taken from their home on the range. Our sponsors are the financial foundation of our sanctuary work and a vital component in ensuring that our nearly 500 wild horse and burro sanctuary residents are given the quality feed, care and veterinary attention they so richly deserve. You’ll receive a photo of your chosen horse and a certificate and, depending on your level of sponsorship, other benefits that can include discounted or complimentary sanctuary tour or safari tickets. If given as a gift, you are inviting someone you care about to join the herd! To learn more about sponsorships and to choose a wild horse, click here.

—Or you can simply choose to make a much-needed and –appreciated gift by clicking one of the donation buttons below to support the whole herd, with a one time or recurring donation. To donate, click here. Or if you’d prefer Paypal, click here.

Whichever you choose, you’ll become part of this amazing story of a reunited Red Desert family.

With our deepest appreciation for your support,

All of us at Return to Freedom