Ayashi is instantly recognizable due to a bright white blaze that runs over her right eye. A beautiful dappled bay mare, the Standardbred in her background gives her a shiny coat and striking movement. She is extremely sensitive to what is happening in her environment and watches visitors from a distance and is quick to determine what she needs to do. She is very alert and will lead the herd away from anything she considers a threat.
Ayashi’s sire, Bandito, was a liver chestnut Virginia Range stallion captured from state land in the Virginia City area of Nevada with Virginia, a wily bay mare who wants nothing to do with humans! Ayashi was raised in Bandito’s expanded harem band at the sanctuary and was later courted by Valentino and became a dominant mare in his band.
Like all of the horses found on the Virginia Range, Bandito is a mixture of strains interbreeding on private lands managed by the state of Nevada’s Department of Agriculture.
Ayashi’s matriarchal side comes from the herds on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sheldon Refuge. In 2000, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was removing wild horses and burros from the Sheldon Refuge. Return to Freedom stepped in to gather more than 50 wild horses on horseback to keep the horses in their intact family herds. The horses were relocated to Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary.
In 2014, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed all remaining wild horses and burros from the 575,000-acre Sheldon Refuge. These horses are descended from horses — mainly Standardbred, Morgan and later adding thoroughbred — used for ranching and cavalry in that region during the 1920s and 1930s along with draft horses who were used in work to develop the large ranchos in Nevada’s Great Basin. These diverse bloodlines interbred and have adapted to and survived some of the most inhospitable regions of our federal lands in the Northwestern United States.