In 1998, the Fish and Wildlife Service removed all wild horses and burros from the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in southeastern Oregon due to pressure from hunters to manage the refuge for pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep. The roundup was conducted on horseback and 279 horses were removed from the Refuge. Twenty-five horses were relocated to Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary in their family and bachelor bands.
Bristol’s father Mystic, was one of the stallions that was brought to the sanctuary, with his family band still intact. Bristol has been able to grow up in a safe environment free from capture and harassment. She is deeply integrated into the community and she displays a natural curiosity.
Hart Mountain is named for the heart-shaped brand used by the pioneer ranchers Henry C. Wilson and his son-in-law C.G. Alexander. Their ranch was located in the Warner Valley at the base of Hart Mountain.
The Hart Mountain horses are diverse shades of roan, bays, and chestnuts. Hart Mountain is very close to Beatty’s Butte where the famous Kiger Mustangs were discovered who have strong old-world Spanish Barb markings and conformation. Some of the Hart Mountain horses show strong Spanish type mixed with other ranch breeds including quarter horse, morgan and draft horses.
Many of the Hart Mountain horses are a kaleidoscope of roan colors with thick long wavy manes and tails, curved black-tipped ears, large wideset eyes. Their beauty compliments the strong bones developed after generations roaming the remote and rugged high desert.