Monday marked a day of celebration as Silver King and his reunited family band were released onto Return to Freedom’s 2,000-acre satellite sanctuary in San Luis Obispo County.
The white stallion and three of his mares took little encouragement to leave the small meadow in which they’ve been getting acclimated to their new environment and waiting out rainstorms and muddy conditions. Lead mare Grace pointed the way. The trio of mares paused, waiting on their stallion as he took up his position behind his harem, before trotting up through hillside oaks and onto waiting fields of green grass that stretched out in every direction.
The new arrivals quickly caught the attention of the Cold Creek Herd, who eyed them from far atop the hill. Silver King positioned himself between his mares and the Cold Creek horses (see photo 9, below), snaking by flattening his ears and lowering his head to keep his little band together — and make it clear to the watching strangers not to venture closer!
In 2010, the federal Bureau of Land Management captured Silver King during a helicopter roundup at Silver King Wild Horse Herd Management Area in Nevada. Helicopters chased him and his mares over dangerous terrain into a trap, where they were separated and then taken from their home range.
In a testament to the value of the work done by knowledgeable humane observers during roundups, as well as local volunteers who get to know their herds on the range, fellow wild horse advocate Laura Leigh tracked the stallion to a prison training program. With the help of our supporters, Return to Freedom was subsequently able to reunite the family band.
Silver King’s band joins 64 wild horses and 16 burros at the San Luis Obispo ranch owned by the Carlson family. In 2015, as part of RTF’s Wild Horse Conservator Program, the Carlsons dedicated their property to RTF resident wild horses and burros and the private photo safaris and tours that help support them.
Other residents of the satellite sanctuary include RTF’s Hart Mountain Herd, from Oregon, and Cold Creek Herd, from Nevada.
RTF’s ability to reunite wild horse families depends on the generous support of its donors. You can help by contributing here.
Photos by Irene Vejar and Cory Golden: