Exactly 20 Years Ago Today, the First Horses Arrived!

/ Events, Featured, Herd Hart Mount

Cayuse’s band are the first horses arrive to Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary, exactly 20 years ago today.

It’s hard to believe, but RTF’s 20th year is already coming to a close. We are excited to enter the New Year both caring for our 500-plus resident wild horses and 42 wild burros, and with a renewed and strengthened resolve to change the way wild horses and burros are managed on their rightful range.

We still remember that exciting day, exactly 20 years ago, when the first horses arrived here, our Cayuse and his band.

Here is the story…

In 1998, the US Fish and Wildlife Service removed all of the wild horses that ranged on the Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. While their decision was irreversible, Return to Freedom was able to at least offer a safe haven to many of them, and brought entire family bands intact to the sanctuary.

Cayuse was a proud and capable young stallion at the time, in the prime of his life. He led his herd with wisdom and measured strength. The loss of his freedom and his wild home is something we could never give back to Cayuse, but we gave him a life as close to it as possible. Time mellowed the once powerful stallion, and his sunset days were spent gently grazing with a couple of old friends, with command of his herd passed on to his son Samir.

Sadly, both Cayuse and Malage, his lead mare, have passed on, but your loyal support gave him the gift of a comfortable life for the rest of his days.

With time, we now have a large population of aging horses like Cayuse, and together—you and RTF—we ensure they are also living out their Golden Years in safety and love.

We could never have come this far without your support, and we will always count on our friends as we head toward a better future for America’s Wild Ones. This is a perfect time to help us finish our 20th Anniversary Year strong, if you are able. returntofreedom.salsalabs.org/20years

May their future be bright,

Thanks from All of us at Return to Freedom


Cayuse in the hills of Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary in 2007.

Cayuse and his old friend Peru this Fall.