I AM HERD is home to 18 wild horses. Why do these Mustangs need sanctuary with I AM HERD? Why can’t they stay in their wild home lands?
These are very good questions and there is not one simple answer.
There are currently over 70,000 Mustangs living free and in the wild on America’s public lands out west. They are spread out, covering 10 states and 177 HMAs (Herd Management Areas) The yellow areas of this map indicate where the wild horses still roam free in America today. (the date of this post is Feb. 9th, 2020)
The wild Mustang population can double every 4 years if not managed in some way. Since these Mustangs are on America’s Public Lands the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is in charge of their well being and care, as well as the well being and care of the land, other wildlife, as well as cattle that are allowed to graze as well. The BLM monitors the numbers of wild horses with the goal at keeping their number to what is called the Appropriate Management Level (AML) They conduct round ups to remove wild horses from the range when their numbers exceed this AML amount.
The current reality is, there are over 40,000 Mustangs that have already been removed from the wild in BLM Holding Facilities today. These Mustangs are in need of adoptive homes. This is where our wild Mustangs have come from. I AM HERD does NOT take the Mustangs from the wild! I AM HERD offers safe sanctuary to wild Mustangs that have already been taken from the wild and are now in need of adoptive homes.
In the picture above you can see the wild Mustangs in the BLM Holding pens in the background. This was the day we adopted these two Mustangs to bring them home to I AM HERD. These are the ‘Soul Sisters’ Unity and Omega.
In the image below, you can see them as well, still in the wild, approximately a year before they were gathered and adopted by I AM HERD.
At I AM HERD we value each of these wild Mustangs, both the ones still in the wild and those waiting for adoption in holding facilities. It is our honor to offer those we can safe sanctuary and to share them with the public. Bringing awareness for the wild Mustang is woven into everything we do at I AM HERD.
While most of our wild ones are ‘BLM Mustangs’ from the wild out west, we do have a few that are from the east. There are not as many wild horses in the east, but there are some and I AM HERD is grateful to be able to offer them a home in this herd as well.
Sahaja is from a wild herd that lives in the Virginia Mountains of Grayson Highlands State Park. These wild ponies are the size of a Shetland Pony (some smaller, some larger) These ponies were set free on this land around the year 1975 to help graze the ‘balds’ on the mountains. These ‘balds’ were created by logging in the late 19th century and are not natural to the land. At one time the land was privately owned and cattle would graze the balds, but once the area became designated as a State Park there was a need to keep these balds from overgrowing with bush. The ponies were released there for this reason and it did not take long for them to establish themselves as a hardy, wild pony herd and have become a highlight for hikers along the Appalachian Trail.
These ponies, known as the Grayson Highlands ponies are not owned and managed by the BLM like the Mustangs out west. These ponies are managed by the Wilburn Ridge Pony Association. Once a year, in effort to control the population, some of the wild pony foals are auctioned off during the annual Fall Festival. Most of the pony foals that are auctioned were born that year, like our Sahaja. You can learn more about our adoption of Sahaja on his page. ( resource for Grayson Highland pony information )
I AM HERD is also home to a very special wild one named Rico.. He is a Corolla Wild Horse. Rico’s family herd has been established for a very, very long time. Much history on this herd can be found on the Corolla Wild Horse Fund website. Rico’s specific herd has tremendous Spanish influence as DNA reports show. They even have one less rib than most horses!
The Corolla Wild Horse are also know as Banker Ponies, as they live on the outter banks of North Carolina – right on the BEACH! This resilient herd has learned to eat the marsh grass and survive hurricanes for decades. They have also lived along side people for many years, as their home land along the outter banks is also home to many humans. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund was established as a non-profit to manage and care for the wild herds. These wild ones are not BLM Mustangs and not managed or protected by the government as the BLM Mustangs out west are. There is an influx of homes being built on the land where these ponies live and a true need for awareness around the well-being of this herd’s survival in the wild in years to come.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF) manages their population through PZP – a drug that sterilizes the mares so they cannot breed. Some mares do not receive the drug and some foals are born each year. The only Corolla Wild Horses that are removed from the wild are ones in need of rescue. CWHF volunteers and staff monitor the wild herds daily for injury. If a horse is removed from the wild, they cannot be returned. Once they are habituated to humans it is no longer safe for them to live as a wild horse. That is when they are put up for adoption. This was the case with Rico.
Rico was rescued by the CWHF as a 5 year old wild stallion, due to a fracture to his coffin bone (a bone in his foot) He healed 100% and has now been adopted by I AM HERD for his forever home. More of his history can be read on the sign below that hangs in the Corolla Wild Horse Museam.
Learn more about Rico’s story here on his personal page.
An additional note about wild horses in general. It is commonly said, and taught, that horses are not native to the America’s, but that they were brought over by the Spaniards and introduced to this country in the 1500s. However, it is now becoming apparent that there were in fact horses here before the Europeans arrived. Here is an article sharing this new perspective and discoveries on the history of horses in this country.
So – Why can’t they stay in the wild?
It is a big question, and thankfully some can – but for those that cannot – we are grateful to be able to offer them a new kind of freedom that will never be taken away here at the I AM HERD Mustang Sanctuary. But we cannot do it alone, I AM HERD is a non-profit and depends on public support to do what we do.
One of the most supportive ways YOU can help is by becoming a Sponsor. We invite you to visit the herd through the link below and see who you feel a connection to. Perhaps you will feel led to strengthen that connection with a tangible Sponsorship that goes directly to the care of the Horse or Pony you Sponsor.
Blessings from this herd to your heart, there is truly a wild horse in all hearts that are drawn to them ~