Not All Stallions Are Italian, but They All Need to Eat

/ Events, News

Sunfire is a strikingly bold and handsome roan tobiano stallion who is confident and cool. Photo credit: Sandy Sharkey

The Magic of the RTF Stallions

When you stand before a stallion, you know right away you are in the presence of greatness. Protector of the herd, teacher of the young.

Mares too have a crucial role in the herd, but it’s hard to beat the awe inspired by a stallion.

From their independent spirit to their massive necks, this is how Nature intended a male horse to be. Unchanged from their original design by humans who often seek to alter their natural behavior by gelding them, the stallion remains raw, authentic, powerful, instinctual.
Stallions have it rough whether on the range or in domestic settings. Nature is unforgiving. As soon as they are a young colt and hit adolescence, they are pushed out of their family bands, often aggressively. They then seek out bachelor bands, and continue to compete over the years with other stallions so they can create their own harem of mares. Some never will.

It is not uncommon to see a senior magnificent stallion who once fought and cared for his family band, now walking alone across the desert with his battle scars. In domestic environments, most don’t want stallions, especially wild, mature stallions. These horses are at a high risk to be sold at auction for slaughter. Often stallions who are kept domestically can be abused through training by people that don’t understand them. It is dangerous and more difficult for stallions to be gelded as they get older. Once gelded, they no longer have the same role to fill in a natural herd. More commonly, in a domestic setting, stallions wild or domestic are isolated which affects their well-being as these are very social mammals. Their basic nature is compromised.

Here at RTF, we are privileged to care for 44 stallions, many of whom are a part of the Calico herd. In 2010, almost 2,000 wild horses were captured by the BLM in the Calico Mountain Complex in Northwestern Nevada. Approximately 140 horses died either during or as a result of this roundup. Return to Freedom gave sanctuary to 20 stallions and 74 mares who endured this devastating roundup which shattered their family bands forever. These horses are a testimony to the enduring spirit of the diverse strains of the horses that helped develop our Great Basin Ranchos and mixed with breeds used for the Cavalry. They have adapted to the rugged and remote terrain and returned to a natural state over the last two hundred years.

Because we have been part of a pioneering non-hormonal and reversible birth-control program (a solution we also advocate when necessary on the range), we can allow stallions and mares to live together at RTF intact with minimal reproduction while preserving natural herd behavior.

As magnificent as they are, and although they are as free as we can allow them to be in our protective custody, they need to eat, and keeping a supply of good hay is the number one priority. The need for funds to buy hay in quantities that give us the best price is not only ongoing, but URGENT, as it goes fast.

Today, the most URGENT way you can help a stallion and be a special part of his life is to buy him his life sustaining food–hay, green gold.

Knowing we have enough food for our rescued horses also allows us time to keep an important place at the table in the national effort to keep wild horses and burros on their rightful range on our public lands.

Thank you for being there for the RTF stallions and all our residents. They have the good lives they have because of you.

Neda DeMayo and all of us at RTF

Become a monthly sponsor of a bale of hay by clicking here.

This is who you will be helping to feed with your kind donation.

Hay goes fast, and running out is not an option. With less than 100 bales onsite, our supply will only last six days.

While we never have enough grass for extensive grazing, the drought has reduced that to almost zero. Some of our fields did not grow in as they have in previous years.