Meet Annabelle

Annabelle is a beautiful buttery sorrel mare with a flaxen mane and tail. She was born at the sanctuary on September 9, 2006. Her parents, Angie and Noble, were captured from their home on the Sheldon U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Nevada in 2000.

Annabelle has large, kind and intelligent eyes and a distinct blaze. She is friendly with other horses and humans. Alert, friendly and confident, Annabelle is the friend everyone wants to have!

Annabelle resides at our 2,000 acre San Luis Obispo sanctuary along with 16 burros and over 70 other horses, which include her parents.

The Sheldon U.S. Fish & Wildlife Refuge in Northwestern Nevada encompasses 575,000 acres of wonderful habitat for wild horses and other wildlife in the Northeast corner of Nye County, Nevada.

In 2000, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was continuing to remove wild horses and burros from the Sheldon U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Nevada. Concerned that these unbranded horses would be shipped to auctions and slaughter, Return to Freedom contracted with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to relocate more than 50 wild horses in their intact family and bachelor bands from the refuge. RTF partnered with a contractor who gathered the horses on horseback and relocated the horses to the sanctuary together. Seven adult stallions, mares and weanlings arrived at Return to Freedom.

Before the area became a national wildlife refuge, the ranchers raised European horse breeds as working ranch horses and as remounts for the U.S. Cavalry. The wild horses removed from the Refuge are descendent from a combination of draft horses who worked hard to develop the large ranches in Nevada’s Great Basin and cavalry horses raised in that region during the 1920s and 1930s At the turn of the 20th century, there was no more demand for saddle horses and these horses along with Percheron and other ranch horses were released to range on what is now the Sheldon U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge and surrounding public lands.

Descendent of Standardbred, Morgan, draft and other breeds, the horses from this region survived and returned to a natural state in some of America’s most challenging habitat. Over many decades these horses have developed increased bone density, instinct and represent the indelible spirit of North America’s wild horses from the Great Basin.

In 2014 the wild horses and burros on the Refuge lost the fight for their survival against relentless Government removals intended to eliminate all wild horses from the Sheldon Refuge. Although advocates fought for years to have the Fish and Wildlife Service manage wild horse populations with fertility control, the Agency removed all wild horses and burros from the Refuge.