Captured Calico Mares Beginning New Life, Thanks to Return to Freedom

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These beautiful survivors are the Calico mares, 74 of them, rescued by Return to Freedom, and delivered into the sanctuary’s care by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) this week.

Captured in the BLM’s controversial Calico Mountains, Nevada roundup nearly one year ago, these brave souls – all sale authority horses over age 10 – have endured capture, separation from their families, and confinement in BLM holding pens. Some miscarried late term foals due to the trauma of the helicopter chase, which stampeded them, heavily pregnant, out of their high desert homes. Others gave birth in BLM’s holding pens, only to have their foals taken away months later. Many still show the signs of having recently nursed their young.

These are the last of the Calico horses in BLM’s holding pens in Fallon. The BLM had scheduled them for transport to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest when Return to Freedom offered to take them instead.

Now they begin their journey toward a new life. Return to Freedom has already rescued 19 stallions captured from the same areas as the mares and intends to reunite these wild horses and recreate family bands for them. All the rescued Calico horses are currently in temporary quarters in Nevada, where they await creation of Return to Freedom’s National Wild Horse Preserve in the northwestern part of the state.

Return to Freedom is honored to be able to give something back to these mares who lost their freedom and family in the BLM roundup. But RTF can't do it without your help!

Read on for Deniz Bolbol's account of the mare's arrival at RTF's temporary housing facility in Fallon, Nevada.

Despite a short trip and cold temperatures, many of the mares arrived covered in sweat, an indication of the stress that these wild animals are under

Report by Deniz Bolbol, December 15, 2010

The mares were unloaded on Wednesday afternoon from the large BLM trailer. Despite the short 15-20 minute drive from the BLM facility, the horses arrived dripping with perspiration. The sweat is a reminder that these horses are wild animals and an indication of how much stress they are put under when captured, transported, and held under highly unnatural conditions.

The horses passed by the pen where our rescued Calico stallions are housed, and the boys definitely showed interest in the mares! I wondered if any of the stallions or mares recognized each other, since they were captured from the same areas and could be long lost family members. Eventually the mares and stallions will be introduced and released in family bands to the a wild horse preserve. I certainly look forward to that day!

Ranging from estimated ages of 10 years to 25 years - the mares all looked to be in good condition. There are a few thin mares, and we will keep a watchful eye on them to make sure they have as much feed as they desire. Sadly, the BLM recently separated many of these mares from their young foals. I had the privilege of sitting for hours with these wild horses, and watching as they settled in. A number of the mares took dust baths shortly after their arrival, and the girls went to work eating grass hay right away! Many of the mares are obviously bonded with each other, and they moved in pairs, exploring and eating together. With their neck tags cut off, these mustangs will never again be forced to eat through a feedlot fence. They will have hay generously distributed inside their pen, with easy access to food without the threat pf dominant horses keeping subordinates away from sustenance. Eventually, they will be able to forage naturally at Return to Freedom's wild horse preserve.

I am enjoying getting familiar with these fabulous ladies - they are a rainbow of beauty. I am only only sorry that they were rounded up in the first place and taken from their beloved families and home in the wild. Return to Freedom is dedicated to giving back as much as possible to these magnificent mustangs, and your support is critical to fulfilling this mission.

With 19 rescued stallions, 75 mares and one foal, Phase 1 of the Calico rescue is complete, Now RTF must feed and care for 101 horses ... on top of the 200+ wild horses who find sanctuary at the RTF ranch in Santa Barbara County, California. The cost of feeding the rescued Calico horses in their temporary quarters will exceed $10,000 per month!

Will you help RTF help the Calico horses? Sponsoring a Calico horse is easy and supports the first of its kind mission: to return these horses to their Calico home range.

Sponsor a Calico Mare
Sponsor Commander and General, Calico Stallions
Sponsor Mist, the Perfect Little Calico Mustang Stallion 
Read more about the rescued Calico stallions