The Carson 23

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In October 2013, we shared the story of Red, his seven family members and 15 other mustangs -- including a very special and stoic senior stallion (see story below) -- who were captured from their homes on Nevada's Virginia Range by the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

They were being held at the Carson City Prison and, if not rescued, would have been sent to a slaughter auction. AWHPC's generous supporters stepped up to donate the funds needed to save them and to send Red, his family, the special senior and his friend to their forever home in California.

November 8, 2013:

Red and his family make their journey to the DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary in northern California where they will live together as wild horses on the 2,000 acres sanctuary. (Video & Photo Credit: Ellen Holcomb)

Below are some photos of Red and his band in their temporary corral before they are released to the 2,000-acre sanctuary.

For more photos click here.

May 2014 Update:

Reds band - which now has foals - is soon to be released onto 100 acres of grassy range that they will have all to themselves.


Senior Stallion

In addition to Red and his band, we have the sad story of a noble, senior stallion who we will call Mr. Senior.

In October 2013, Mr. Senior and his bachelor friend, who we'll call Guy, were captured by the state of Nevada's Department of Agriculture (NDA) in Stagecoach, Nevada for what the state deemed a potential public safety issue. The details of the capture and Mr. Senior's history are sketchy. What we do know is that when the veterinarian at the prison put Mr. Senior under anesthesia before gelding (all stallions captured by NDA are gelded), the elderly stallion went into convulsions. The vet immediately stopped working on Mr. Senior and let him recuperate. While under anesthesia they determined that Mr. Senior is approximately 30 years old.

This stallion, born wild in the Virginia Range of Nevada, was raised by his family and likely joined a bachelor band before gaining a family of his own. For decades he braved the harsh desert landscape -- scorching temperatures during the summer and below freezing temperatures during the winters. This stoic stallion likely fought to protect his family the best way could from predators and other stallions.

Through the droughts and blizzards, he lived for approximately three decades as a proud and free stallion. Now, in his twilight years, he was captured and stolen from the only place he ever called home -- the open range. Had Return to Freedom not had the cooperative agreement with the state of Nevada to purchase horses -- this old man would have been sent to the slaughter auction.

Mr. Senior and Guy, now at sanctuary. Photo by DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary.

Instead, thanks to the generosity of Return to Freedom-AWHPC supporters he was rescued and sent to DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary in northern California. There Mr. Senior and Guy will live as wild horses on 2,000 acres with other rescued horses, and Mr. Senior will be cared for lovingly in his twilight years. 

The story of Mr. Senior and his capture is a sad one.  It would have been far more humane to leave this elder stallion in his home on the range and allow him to die free, than to capture and imprison him, risk his life by trying to castrate him, and sentence him to spend his final years in captivity.  We salute Mr. Senior -- for all his decades of wisdom, the life he's lived and what we can learn from him. We continue to work to secure the on-the-range-management Cooperative Agreement with the state of Nevada to keep Virginia Range horses like Mr. Senior safe and free on the range.

May 2014 Update:

At the end of April, we shared the story of Mr. Senior to our supporters on Facebook. Upon seeing the post, AWHPC Supporter Carol Wooley commented to say that she had seen Mr. Senior --who she called 'Grandpa'-- nearly every day for a couple of years until one day he disappeared, and she worried that he had died. The folks over at DreamCatcher looked over the elderly stallion and, sure enough, he has the same markings and scar on his side. Without a doubt, 'Mr. Senior' is indeed 'Grandpa'! Pictured here is the senior stallion when he lived wild and free on the range

Thank you for sharing Carol! And thanks again to DreamCatcher for taking care of him into his golden years.

From DreamCatcher: "Mr.  Senior is doing really well. He has his own band of two mares and he is thriving on senior food.  Two weeks after we gave him the two mares he started creating stallion piles: mounds of manure that act as a boundry marker to other stallions."


Even though we're thrilled to be able to prevent these horses from falling into the hands of kill buyers, our work is not done. We still must ensure that caretakers have the resources they need to look after the Carson City 23 and 150 previously rescued Virginia Range horses into the future. And we must implement range management measures to prevent the state from capturing more horses from their homes on the range. 

If we fail, more historic mustangs will be captured and placed in danger of being purchased by kill buyers and trucked to Mexico where they will face an unspeakably cruel death at a brutal slaughter plant.

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