Meet Nelson

Nelson, named after Nelson Mandela, a trusting and innocent 2 year old solid bay colt was born wild and free in Nevada’s Great Basin. Born in 2020, his life free on the range within the safety of his family band was cut short in January 2022 when he ran for his life across a vast area of sagebrush, dust and rocks. He was among over 2000 wild and free horses captured from their freedom, families and the only home they have ever known within the Pancake Complex just outside of Ely Nevada.

Nelson is a trusting and good natured young colt who has adapted very well pretty quickly upon arriving to the sanctuary (on May 13, 2022). Confused and scared when captured and housed with hundreds of horses in government holding corrals, he stayed close to a tall bay pinto now named Mingo.

Photographer Monica Ross was present at the roundup and then later in the holding corrals when the captured horses were moved from the trap site. She couldn’t get the image of this young bay colt who would not leave Mingo’s side — Mingo was his protector. When we received urgent pleas to accept these horses to come to Return to Freedom’s sanctuary, we knew they needed to stay together. After losing everything it was the least we could do.

Nelson arrived with Mingo and they relaxed immediately. It didn’t take long for Nelson to feel comfortable when staff fed them in their quarantine corral and once they were released into the rolling hills where over 40 other horses reside, Nelson looked so excited to explore! He and Mingo are always together and have integrated well here at the sanctuary!

Special thanks to Monica Ross, Joyce Smith and Robert Watson who found a way for these two bonded horses!


——-The Pancake Complex—-
The wild horses in the Pancake Complex share nearly 850,000 acres with hundreds of wildlife species and privately owned livestock in elevations ranging from 5000 ft. to 11,000 ft, the horses acclimated to hot summers to -20 degrees F in the winters. The horses that roam in that region are descended from draft horses and morgan and thoroughbreds that were turned loose by the Army Remount Service from the 1900’s to the 1940’s to create hardy horses to work. The horses there are strong and hardy and mainly bays and sorrel with some greys and blacks.

By February 14, 2022, a total of 2,054 wild horses were captured from The Pancake Complex in Nevada, about 30 miles west of Ely or 80 miles northeast of Tonopah, Nevada.

The Pancake Complex includes the Pancake Herd Management Area(HMA), Sand Springs HMA and the Jakes Wash Herd Area, managed by BLM, as well as the Monte Christo Wild Horse Territory, managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Jakes Wash is not actively managed for wild horses.

Altogether, the complex includes 1.2 million acres of public and private lands. In March 2001, the BLM estimated the population at 3,244 wild horses in or just outside the Herd Management Areas. The combined agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” is 361-638 wild horses.

By comparison, BLM allows up to 59,427 Animal Unit Months of seasonal private cattle grazing over the same acreage. That’s the year-round equivalent of 4,952 cow-calf pairs.

A total of 26 wild horses were killed, 21 for what have been listed as chronic / pre-existing conditions, like swayback and blindness, and five for sudden / acute injuries, including a broken leg and neck.
A total of 15 mares and three stallions are listed as “released” with no further explanation. The mares were not listed as being treated with fertility control in the gather report.

BLM set out to capture 2,060 wild horses and remove up to 2,030 from their home range. The agency said that it planned to treat and release with the fertility control vaccine PZP-22 up to 30 mares but only if it captures any of a small number of mares treated with fertility control in 2012, an action too small to be effective in halting future roundups. No updated plans on treating and releasing mares have been released.

BLM last removed wild horses from the complex during “emergency” bait-and-trap roundups in 2018 and 2016 during which a combined 228 wild horses were captured and five killed. During both of those roundups, BLM failed to treat and release additional mares with safe, proven and humane fertility control that could slow reproduction and halt future roundups.

In a press release before the roundup, the BLM said that the removal of wild horses was necessary “to reduce [the] overpopulation of wild horses within and outside the complex, where there currently is not enough water and/or forage, both for short- and long-term management, to support the number of horses in the area, and to prevent further degradation of public lands by helping to balance herd size.”

Captured wild horses were transported to the Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Center, in Reno, Nev., Indian Lakes Off-Range Wild Horse and Burro Corral, in Fallon, Nev., and Sutherland (Utah) Off-Range to be prepared for adoption or sale.


Error: Please set a slider ID