Committed to conserving the rare and diverse bloodlines that define the American Mustang, Return to Freedom maintains a rare breeds conservation program.

Return to Freedom’s Wild Horse Sanctuary strives to keep wild horses in their original family and social groups, so they may continue to exist without the threat of capture or removal.

In order to meet the challenge of the rapidly diminishing number of Wild Horses in America, we first need to preserve and protect those that remain. Therefore, the core of our conservation efforts focuses on:

  • Providing rescue and sanctuary
  • Preserving unique strains that might otherwise be lost forever
  • Pioneering and advocating for minimally invasive management solutions to protect wild horses and burros on their existing rangelands

Some of the conservation herds at the sanctuary represent horses with DNA similar to the primitive Iberian horses (the Sorrias), while others are direct and undiluted descendants of Padre Kino’s original Spanish Mission strain which arrived in the 1600s. The Choctaw Ponies are a 100% pure tribal strain who originally arrived with Hernando DeSoto in the 1500s and carried the Choctaw and Cherokee on The Trails of Tears.

Most of these original Spanish horses have been destroyed and only exist in very small numbers, totaling less than 600. Our conservation program is designed to help educate the public about the origins of the horse in North America and their return to this continent, and to inspire conserving the genetic viability of these historical and biological treasures.

Other herds at the sanctuary represent descendants of larger breeds that arrived later to North America from Europe; cavalry horses and ranch horses that have interbred with Spanish mustangs on our public and park lands and have reverted to a natural state over the past five centuries.

The wild horses of today, managed by government agencies, continue to battle for their rightful place on our federal and state lands. With a continued and aggressive roundup and removal policy, our wild horses could disappear forever if we do not work now to protect and preserve them. Learn more about what threatens America’s wild horses and burros.

How We Control Wild Horse Populations

Return to Freedom does not endorse the argument that there is an overpopulation of wild horses and burros. While livestock graze on 160 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-managed lands, wild horses and burros are consigned to only 26.9 million acres, just 11% of our public lands, where they are out-numbered by millions of privately owned livestock by an average ratio of 50 to 1.

Return to Freedom endorses the protection of predators to naturally manage large mammal populations in wilderness areas. Unfortunately, this has not been accepted as a viable argument in the current political paradigm due to livestock management and urban encroachment.

Only to the extent that population control is necessary, fertility control methods are available whose efficiency has been proven safe, humane, and effective as an alternative to permanent sterilization, capture, removal, or shooting. Native PZP, a non-hormonal form of immunocontraception widely used in wildlife, should only be used judiciously with wild horses, solely to the extent necessary to maintain healthy population levels, in keeping with the original spirit and intent of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. The goal is to minimize the need for costly and traumatic roundups, as well as save millions of tax dollars, while ensuring natural selection and genetic diversity by slowing down reproduction as opposed to stopping it all together or removing wild horses and burros from the range.