Success Stories

 
 May 14, 2024 - Canyon (aka: Raven) & her bestie
 
Over Mother's Day weekend another one of our beloved Onaqui mares was found in a Texas kill pen. They were calling her Canyon and she's the black mare pictured here grooming her little brother Peregrine, and nose to nose with her own mother with her auntie Scarlett nearby (Palomino).

Canyon was adopted out after the 2021 Onaqui roundup and was found dumped in a kill pen in McClean Texas along with a beautiful little 4 year old bay Pine Nut mare who she's very bonded to (shown in last photo).  Both were given a week to make bail before being shipped to slaughter in Mexico.  We put out a plea for help in finding an urgent placement via social media and fortunately for them a loving home is just what they found back here in Utah with a lovely adopter who has 3 other Onaqui mares that they love dearly. The new forever owner swooped in and made sure they were bailed from the kill pen asap and we started to process of finding a hauler and raising funds to bring Canyon and her bff back to Utah after being gone for over 2 years.

As it turns out, her name is actually Raven and she'll be keeping that name in her new forever home. Her original adopter reached out and was devastated to find out she had been dumped along with her bestie in the kill pen by a "trainer" they'd both been sold to with the hopes they'd be finished under saddle.

Raven was said by everyone who came in contact with her along the way to be a very loving and friendly "in your pocket" horse which she definitely still is. She wastes no time in coming right up to say hi, loves her butt scratches and will groom you back if you scratch her withers for her.

Her Pine Nut friend came from the same adopters home and they have been together in that placement for the two years leading up to the sale and subsequent dumping in the kill pen. Their new owner bought them both, they made the haul from TX to UT together and together they will remain.

The Pine Nut mare is a foal of 4/2020 and was born in a BLM holding facility. She's a very petite little thing and curious but shy. Her name is Khaleesi and she'll be keeping that same name as well.
A HUGE thank you to everyone who helped us raise the funds to get pretty little Raven back home to Utah with her bestie Khaleesi.

We are truly grateful. And so are they.

March 22, 2024 - Cleopatra
 
On Friday, March 22nd, 2024 we put out a desperate plea for help to save a very underweight little Onaqui mare from the 2019 roundup who found herself in a bad way at a kill pen in Texas scheduled to ship to slaughter on Tuesday, March 26th.  Cleopatra was from the 2019 Onaqui roundup and was bounced around from place to place before ending up in Texas.  She was titled by her owner in July of 2023 and 5 short months later was sold to a kill pen in the Texas panhandle.  From that original kill pen she subsequently wound up in another one which is where we found her with less than a week to live before being sent to slaughter.


The costs to save each of these horses once they end up in a kill pen typically run between $3k-$4k by the time bail is paid, quarantine is paid and transportation is paid to/from the quarantine facility. There are a lot of moving parts and puzzle pieces that have to line up in a hurry to make each rescue successful.


Fortunately for this little lady the stars aligned and 15 minutes ago she hopped on her freedom ride to a soft, safe landing.


She was given the nickname "Spirit" by the kill pen, but there is already a very well known pinto named Spirit from our Onaqui herd and she deserves her own identity with her new life. So Cleopatra it is, hoping that with some proper nutrients and TLC she'll soon return to being the beautiful queen she once was on the range.


Cleopatra is going to quarantine, and afterwards will take a final ride to Mustang Journey in Goshen, Ohio where she will join other rescued Onaqui and 2 Sand Wash Basin mustangs. She will continue to be gentled and worked with under saddle when she's ready by the caring staff, volunteers and veterans who are the heart of their program. They recently started a new program for local children to spend time reading to the horses as well so Miss Cleo will surely enjoy the stories she's about to be told.


Once she is of proper weight and adjusted to lots of love and care she will be available to find her forever home with her perfect human which will in turn allow Mustang Journey to accept another mustang into their program.


We will continue to share updates on her progress, but just wanted to put out a quick THANK YOU to everyone who donated and stepped up to make this happen on such short notice. And thank you to her wild horse angel who sent us the post and her freezemark behind the scenes so we could verify who she was and get to work keeping her off that truck to Mexico. xx
 
December 15, 2023 - Johnny Cash's Rescue from Slaughter


It was a hectic and rather emotional roller coaster after seeing a post that another of our Onaqui geldings was dumped in a kill pen. This time in Stroud, Oklahoma. The most important thing to say is that he’s safe. 

The kill pen called him Panther, but his previous name is Johnny Cash. Johnny was adopted from the 2021 Internet Adoption event to an owner who enjoyed him. They had him for a year and a half and during that time taught him everything short of being under saddle and did it on his schedule and comfort level. He leads, picks up his feet, knows some tricks, is easy to catch even in a very large turnout and clearly loves affection from humans. He was, however, terrified of saddles and anyone on horseback.

This has been a common theme amongst our Onaqui as they were routinely chased and herded in the BLM facility including inside their individual pens and in the narrow alleys between them by the new facility manager on horseback instead of on foot which is the typical practice. Over and over and over we’ve heard and seen the negative effect this has had on the Onaqui exposed to it and none of the ramifications have been good. It left a lasting impression that takes a lot of time and patience to slowly work through.

When the original owner felt that they were personally unable to get him past this fear, they reached out to various trainers along the way for assistance. Some progress was made and Johnny had accepted a saddle a handful of times with his original owner and was even willing to pony off another horse.

However, in early October of this year his owner realized that they couldn’t personally give him the daily time or continued guidance he deserved and an opportunity came up for Johnny Cash live onsite with a nearby trainer to be used during packing season to help him build his skill and comfort level around other horses. At this point he left his original owner’s property and went to live at the trainers property.

Two months later this “trainer” he was given to claims that they in turn gave him to “a friend” back east after Johnny didn’t work out in his packing operation, and from there Johnny Cash was immediately dumped in a kill pen.

It is very clear to everyone that Johnny is a well-mannered, levelheaded, sweet gelding that loves affection and attention and wants to please. After much time and consideration into the planning of his rescue from the kill pen, travel to quarantine and putting out the word to try to find his perfect forever home that happened.  A haul in the dead of winter is never what anyone wants to have to coordinate, but  that's the timing we were handed in this situation.

So on January 20th, 2024 Mr. Johnny Cash made the long journey home to Utah from Oklahoma and has been adopted by Alisa Graham, one of the members on our board, to live out his life with her two rescued Onaqui mares from the 2019 roundup and a little domestic pony named Stevie.  Everyone is thrilled to have him back safe and sound and he's been an absolute gentleman and just the sweetest most patient boy through it all. 

 
 
 August 24, 2023 & March 21, 2024 - Cheveyo's Rescue from Slaughter

UPDATE:  After 6 months in foster care Cheveyo had made it very clear that he was simply not interested in transitioning to a domestic horse lifestyle.  So after much discussion and coordination on March 21st, 2024 Cheveyo got on his final trailer ride to a life forever wild again at Engler Canyon Ranch in Colorado. Upon his arrival March 22nd he was greeted by several other members from his Onaqui herd who call this 20,000 acre free roaming sanctuary home and he ran out of that trailer as fast as his little legs could carry him to once again integrate back into herd life without human interference.


Its not often that I speak with absolute certainty about divine intervention, but in the case of saving Cheveyo’s life there’s little question that’s what happened.


Cheveyo is a Native American term for Spirit Warrior.  “to be a spiritual warrior means to develop a special kind of courage, one that is innately intelligent, gentle and fearless.”  This south Onaqui band stallion encompasses just that.


His life began in the south Onaqui HMA of Utah where he lived his best life for many years.  He had a small family consisting of a darling little black colt born in 2020, a quiet sorrel mare, a beautiful bay roan mare named Denali and her 2021 colt Mystique and last but not least the beloved Blue Eyed Filly.  All of that changed in 2021 when he was rounded up by helicopter along with the rest of his family and south herd then taken to the government holding facility to be auctioned off in an internet adoption.


From the holding pens he was shipped on a BLM livestock transportation truck southeast with countless other Onaqui mustangs and eventually ended up in Texas where he lived with a woman who considers herself to be an equestrian and barrel racer.  This woman eventually proceeded to sell him to a kill buyer/direct ship facility also in Texas where he was scheduled to be sent to die on August 27th. 


The kill pen believed him to be untitled and he was not displayed on their website or social media as a horse available for sale, simply put on the schedule for the next truck out to ship.  Fortunately for him a kind woman was in the pens taking photos and noticed his unique coloring so she took numerous images of him which included his brand.  The brand, unlike so many others, wasn’t covered by his mane and was able to be deciphered which is how it became apparent who he was.


The following is a short version of a mad scramble to save him on Thursday night, August 24th. Michelle Henderson had shared his photos, brand, scheduled ship date and kill pen contact info. on social media which quickly began circulating.  I was contacted by numerous people simultaneously quite literally from one side of the US to the other including Retta Risley, Clare Staples and Megan Burns among others. 


I had the funds to bail him, but before that could happen we needed to find haulers, quarantine and a place for him to have a soft long term landing.  With simultaneous conversations flying back and forth between us all and various hauling/quarantine options we miraculously had the boxes all checked in about 90 minutes.  I also confirmed that he was in fact titled.


I then texted the kill pen and asked to purchase him and gave his tag # in the photos and was told there wasn’t a horse with that tag at their lots.  I felt sick. I then sent photos of him and got radio silence…


At this point Michelle was also trying to reach the kill pen on her end and long story short about 3 hours later (8:30pm my time) I received a text from the kill pen with his lot # and location (Kaufman instead of Kemp).  I sent the funds to them immediately and was to coordinate the rest the next morning. 


So at o’dark thirty Friday morning I called again, paid for his Health Cert and secured a hauler to pick him up on Monday and bring him to a quarantine location that both Clare and Retta had managed to secure for him in Kansas. 


He was picked up Monday afternoon and made his freedom ride to Kansas.  After an overnight stopover with the hauler he managed to clear their 6’ panels and run when they were trying to load him back up to make the final leg to quarantine.  Fortunately, they were able to get him back in a pen and eventually loaded and hauled to quarantine where he’ll spend the next month decompressing from the week from hell. 


According to the quarantine facility so far so good and he’s been very calm and was eating and drinking right away.  She even put a shade structure up for him so he can go stand in the shade and enjoy the breeze during his time there.


At the end of September I’ll make the haul back to Kansas to pick up Cheveyo and at long last bring him home to Utah.  There were SO many people involved in the mad scramble to save his life and I hope some day he’ll come to understand that not all humans are bad.


We are very grateful to Clare who generously offered to cover the cost of his haul from TX to KS and the cost of his quarantine while he’s there.  Red Birds Trust will be covering the cost of his haul from Kansas to Utah and his board for a healthy year while a foster family donates their time gentling him on a schedule that is most comfortable for him. 


We’ll likely never know what he went through for those 18 months in Texas, but based on his fear levels described by the kill pen and haulers it’s safe to say not much if any of it was good.  He’ll be in great hands with a foster family who’ll make sure he gets all the TLC he needs and were the missing link we needed to making this whole rescue a success.


We humbly welcome any donations and/or ongoing sponsorships to assist in his physical care and mental rehab as it’s going to be a long road but one that’s well worth it for a horse that if it wasn’t for a flock of angels watching out for him would have fallen through the systems cracks.

 
August 18, 2023 - Rip’s Rescue

Nearly 2 years in the making and finally this weekend Onaqui north herd band stallion Rip arrived home.
In July 2021 Rip lost his wild home and little family as the helicopters converged on the herd and they ran through the desert into traps only to be separated in the government facility and sent their different ways.

His grey mare and her tiny filly – Grace and Bliss – went to Wild Heart Sanctuary in Park City (along with mares Giraffe and filly Leilani). His other by mare named Bridget ended up at an 80 acre sanctuary in Colorado where she gave birth to his little colt named Saint on March 7, 2022.

Rip was also sent to Colorado, but instead to a private home with another bay roan Onaqui mare and was subsequently transported to Washington state where he was put up for sale in July of 2023. He was unhandled all this time, just transported titled and then sold. Way back at the end of 2021 Bridget’s caretakers at Grace Reins Equine Therapy, who we’d been in communication with for several months, also asked about Rip and expressed interest in reuniting him with Bridget if that was a possibility. Although we also had communicated with Rip’s owner at the time that wasn’t something that was on the table.

Then when the owner put him up for sale last month via social media we reached out several times and sent communications to try to connect his owner with Bridget’s caretakers and had others reach out as well. No response was ever received.

We assumed there was nothing more that could be done, he was gone, but now to wait to see if he turned up again in the future and try to help at that point. Everyone was very disappointed, but we’d tried our best.

Fast forward to a very unexpected message in our inbox from a wonderful woman and her husband who had purchased Rip from his first owner and had him living on their 10 acre ranch with their horses and begun the process of getting him used to human touch, halters, leading, etc. They loved him dearly and were prepared to keep him long term, but also knew how strongly horses bonded and wanted to first see if there was a chance to reunite him with some or all of his wild mares.
Once again I reached out to Bridget and Saint’s caretakers and once again they without question said yes, they’d love to provide a forever home to Rip and reunite him with Bridget and his young colt Saint. Bridget’s caretakers had lived here in Utah until 2017 and documented the horses those 4 years before moving to Colorado. They had met little baby Bridget at only 2 days old in the wild and documented her and her family as she was Rocky’s first baby.

They adored her during those years and so when she came up in the IA they immediately recognized her and wanted to give her a soft landing and safe forever home.

This past weekend Rip’s rescuers generously volunteered to drive all the way from eastern Washington to western Colorado to take Rip home safely. Because of generous prior donations and support we were able to help contribute financially to some of the costs of this journey, but it couldn’t have happened without an entire network of people looking out for the best interest of our wild ones – Rip in particular in this case.

We are so very grateful for Grace Reins 501c3 for providing peace and love to the wild horses who are fortunate to call it home – now to include RIP, and to Mary and her husband for going above and beyond both financially and otherwise to do right by a horse that needed it.

Why this particular boy kept coming up over and over and over again on our radar we’ll likely never fully understand, but finally after a very long wait he has one of his ladies back and got to meet his new beautiful, friendly colt who already adores his dad. Clearly he’s where he was destined to be and he had a lot of people looking out for him over these past 2 years.

You can find out more about Grace Reins on their website: https://gracereins.org/ and a huge THANK YOU to the donors who help us to help make reunions like this possible.
 
June 5, 2023 - Zora's Freedom Ride After Absuse & Neglect
 
Zora was a stunning bay mare from the north herd who traveled in a large band with a stallion named Dude. At the time of her capture in 2021 she was estimated to be 11 years old and was a beautifully built horse. I had watched her and her family a lot because she was bestie’s with a mare who I witnessed giving birth to a tiny bay colt in 2021 in front of Davis mountain named Quinn. Zora was always there playing auntie and was pregnant herself at the time.

Zora has had one heck of a journey in the last 2 years and it has not been a pleasant one to say the least.

During the roundup she was with her family when they were pushed into the trap and Quinn’s mom suffered a broken leg and had to be euthanized on the spot. Then she endured the lengthy trip to the holding facility in Delta, Utah on a packed livestock truck and spent the next 6 months in the short term holding pens.

She was then adopted by a heavy-handed local “trainer” who regularly posted videos of her techniques that involved pressure, pressure and more pressure. It was crystal clear that poor Zora was miserable there. While at this Utah home Zora gave birth to a little one that then died. One can’t even imagine what she must have been going through.

As soon as she was titled and AIP money paid out Zora was sold to another “trainer” in Wyoming. At her second placement Zora was treated even worse being denied adequate food and care and beaten with a shovel which left many slash marks in her neck and shoulders which are still visible even today.

She was days away from being dumped at a kill pen when an actual trainer in Wyoming found out and swooped in to rescue her and another mare facing the same fate. She hoped with time and a gentle approach Zora might be able to finally learn to trust humans for the first time.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, this was not the case. Zora had been through far too much for her mind to ever be at ease in a domestic setting again. We were contacted and asked for help in finding a placement where Zora could simply learn to be a horse again and finally be at peace. She was safe where she currently was, and was getting lots of groceries and had other horses to interact with, but in the long term she needed to be given her freedom back.

There are very few options for this type of sanctuary and everyone’s full because of situations similar to this where a perfectly sound horse is mentally broken at the hands of human’s who abuse them.

I reached out to the contacts I had at sanctuaries which may be a fit and we can never express our gratitude to Jill Starr at Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue in California for going out on a limb despite being at capacity to give Zora the life she deserves.

After months of loving care at the 3rd trainers property in Wyoming Zora began her new journey to freedom yesterday. A generous volunteer used our trailer to pick her up and make the haul from Wyoming to California and she was dropped off this morning to meet new friends and begin her forever life free of any more demands or abuse at the hands of humans.
Jill at Lifesavers renamed her Zora meaning dawn, because she is starting the dawn of her new life at Lifesavers.

A million thank you’s to Lifesavers for ALL that you do for the horses who need you so much, for the angel of a trainer who saved her from going to slaughter and cared for her until a solution could be found and to our donors last year who enabled us to pick up a small trailer at an unbelievable deal locally so we would have it on hand to assist in transports, rescues and/or equine emergencies as they came up. And last but not least to our “volunteer” who’s been a saint in hauling Onaqui rescues over long distances several times now to ensure that they wind up safe and sound in good hands.

Here's to a happy ending to a mare that deserves nothing less.

 
May 6, 2023 - Sage & Cinnamon (formerly known as BLM #7978 and 7968)

This story is 2 months in the making, but we are thrilled to finally be able to share that these Onaqui mares have found their own little slice of heaven at the end of a VERY long journey spanning thousands of miles.

Sage is a sweet little bay mare born in 2020 from the South herd who traveled in 300/Cash’s band prior to the July 2021 roundup. She was just a yearling when she was chased over many miles, along with the rest of the south herd, into the waiting trap by the helicopters overhead. From there she was crammed in with countless others on the livestock trucks as they began the 2 hour journey from the range to the Delta BLM holding facility.

Sage would spend 8 months in this facility before being loaded on another livestock truck and taken far away to the Ewing facility in Illinois to be picked up by the individual who purchased her on the Internet Auction. Unfortunately for her, this person left her standing there in Illinois and never followed through on their commitment to provide her with a home.

For the next year Sage was offered at 4 different BLM adoption events, each time being overlooked. Finally she was sent to a storefront in Florida which is when we learned about her story....

Cinnamon’s story is much the same except that her journey began when she was born in 2017 among the North Onaqui herd. She traveled first with the handsome black band stallion Rocky and then in 2019 she had her first foal – a precious black filly. Sometime in late 2020/early 2021 Cinnamon’s family status changed and she began traveling instead with band Stallion Clorox (clearly she has good taste in stallions!) and then in July of 2021 she was also chased by helicopter into the trap where life on the range as she knew it would end.

Cinnamon was adopted by the same individual as Sage in the December 2021 Internet Auction and this same person had her shipped to Illinois and also left her standing there abandoned with no place to go. Cinnamon was also offered at the same 4 events as Sage and she also failed to find a forever home at any of them.

The good news is that these two girls had been able to stay together from the time of the July 2021 roundup to now. Although I’m sure with all the moving around from state to state they have quite a lot of stories they could tell.

I was contacted by a person I’ll just refer to as their temporary guardian angel back in February who let me know what was going on prior to it popping up on social media. I immediately started making calls and their purchase was completed – they’d never be run through another event again.

Their guardian angel generously offered to help provide a safe and caring place to hold over until they could get from point A to point B and Red Birds Trust covered food, vets and the cost of transport for the 1,000+ miles to get them to their own little slice of mustang heaven.

Both Sage and Cinnamon arrived safe and sound yesterday in Goshen, Ohio at Mustang Journey 501c3. Here they will eventually be able to reunite with 3 other rescued Onaqui from the 2021 roundup – Spirit, Adam (and his bestie Eve) and a beautiful north herd bay affectionately nicknamed “Mama Mare.” Also living there are Sand Wash Basin mustangs Triumph and Gambler.

If you’d like to learn more about this amazing facility and their volunteer staff please check out their website (http://www.mustangjourney.org/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MustangJourneyOhio/). You can follow along in not only Sage and Cinnamon’s journeys, but see the progress the others have achieved through lots of TLC and training over the past year.

Red Birds Trust also did a month long sanctuary feature so if you’ll go back through our posts from November 2022 you’ll see lots of photos, videos and first-hand accounts of the time I personally spent at this rescue.

We are SO grateful that facilities like this exist to give our mustangs a safe landing, soft hand and teach them about navigating life on the range around humans who will give them whatever time and space they need and gentling to help them adjust to the options in store for them for a new life path.

We are currently halfway to our goal of trying to cover $3,800 in transportation costs for the 2 Onaqui mares which were just purchased at a sales auction in Pennsylvania this Wednesday night and so any donations we receive will be a huge help in covering these costs and the additional costs detailed below.

We did not fundraise for this 1,000 mile transport from Florida to Ohio for Sage and Cinnamon because we were waiting until they arrived home to make any announcements. So the cost for this haul is in addition to the $3,800 haul from PA to TX.

On top of these two transports, we also have another 800+ mile transport we are working on for a severely abused and neglected mare in the West who’s story will be announced in a month or so after she also reaches her own safe haven where she’ll never be harmed by humans again.


Needless to say we’ve been busy.

Very busy.

And with more titles being issued for our 2021 Onaqui as we type we wait for more stories of horses being dumped to land in our inbox and really hope they don’t. The best way to help if you’re interested are simple:

(1) if you or someone you know have been or are wanting to provide a forever home to a mustang in need please reach out and we can add you to our list of potential rescues
or
(2) donations. We understand that every dollar counts these days which is why we generally don’t fundraise unless it’s for a specific rescue. However, in light of needing to step in and cover costs for 4 Onaqui in 2 months we would be grateful for any donations that we receive to allow us to continue to help on a moment’s notice when one of our horses is in trouble.

A HUGE thank you to Sage and Cinnamon’s guardian angel because without their help we couldn’t have pulled this off. And thank you to Mustang Journey who even though their space and volunteer base is limited has been willing to take the plunge and say yes whenever I’ve reached out with a dire ask.

I say it all the time, but it truly takes a village.


 May 5, 2023 - The story of "Merry" and "Tootsie"
The last two plus weeks have been a bit of a logistical challenge and emotional rollercoaster after receiving a few private messages that two of our Onaqui mares from the south herd wound up in a sales barn in western Pennsylvania. The mares had been very recently titled then sold to the owner of the barn and apparently had been put out to pasture for the past year with another bay Swasey mare and bred to a black and white stud.
We received extremely generous offers of assistance for the two Onaqui including temporary care, housing, basic training and pick up at the facility.
After receiving this amazing offer I reached out to a friend who I had worked with to adopt two Onaqui geldings in the 2021 Internet Auction because she had been waiting for the right opportunity to add an older mare in need to her horse family. I continued to try to work to find a placement for the second Onaqui but no firm solutions were materializing.
Fast forward to the day of the auction.
A mere 8 hours before the auction was set to start the pervious offer of temporary care, transport and basic training fell through with zero warning. With the adopter living over 1,600 miles away this has now turned into an absolute crisis situation with little to no time to solve it.
The good news is that the adopter decided just prior to auction day that she couldn’t bear to separate these pregnant older mares after all the time they spent in the wild together and the past year in captivity as well. So she made the commitment to do whatever she could to get both and keep them together along with their babies.
But now it’s down to the wire and although we had an adopter, that’s all we had. The other plans that had been firmly in place blew up.
Insert a horse angel to the rescue.
Ann Cunningham had seen that these mares were potentially in trouble and made a post about it on Facebook. The adopter reached out privately to her as did we to let her know that we were making every effort to keep the two Onaqui safe. The third Swasey mare was potentially at risk, but I’d received word that the Swasey had a for sure home as well (more on that later).
We were having a heck of a time finding anyone willing to bid in person for us at the auction and neither of us felt good about doing the bidding by phone due to lack of cell service at the facility.
Because of this Ann jumped in her truck, trailer in tow “just in case”, and made the 6 hour drive to reach the barn before the auction began. It was confirmed that several kill buyers were in attendance so having her there to assess the situation was absolutely critical.
The auction went on for a few hours and by the end I think it’s safe to say the adopter and myself were absolutely worried sick about what might happen. Red Birds Trust had offered to contribute to the purchase price if necessary and would be paying the cost of hauling to get both mares home to Texas.
The three mustangs were the very last to go up for auction and at that time most private parties and kill buyers had either left or were dealing with loading up the horses they’d purchased. It was just Ann and one kill buyer left.
He bid on the mustangs, so did she.
And she won.
All three.
The two Onaqui mares will get to live out their lives together with 2 others from their range and keep their babies as well. And the third very pregnant Swasey mare was loaded up right there and then into Ann’s trailer and hauled the 6 hours home to safety.
The cost of the haul for the Onaqui mares is $3,800 and we are asking for donations to help cover this cost. No amount is too small.
Since we, as an organization, don’t fundraise unless it’s for a specific rescue every dollar we do get is so important because it gives us the ability to jump in and help for situations like this.
We are also currently working on transport for 3 other Onaqui mares whose stories will be shared in the coming month. Those costs are in addition to the $3,800 cost to transport the two just won in Pennsylvania.
As if trying to place together a plan for our Onaqui wasn’t hard enough, insert a scammer in the mix who was allegedly purchasing the third Swasey mare.
I’m so furious I actually had to spend some time choosing my words before I tried to recap this part of the story.
I was contacted last week by someone local on behalf of a lady in Florida who was allegedly purchasing the heavily pregnant Swasey mare to then ship back to a third party Utah. I was quoted astronomically high prices for hauling and quarantine for the 3 mares by the Florida woman’s nephew to the tune of $9k-$12k total. I was pretty clear I wasn’t interested, nor had I asked them to provide us with cost estimates to begin with.
This Florida woman first said she’d met me at “the roundup” and she was sure I remembered her because we had a great long talk. Considering I’ve never attended a roundup it’s safe to say no, I don’t remember her. Then it changed to she must have met me at the “protest.” I’ve never been to a protest either, although I did speak on behalf of Red Birds Trust at the State Capital in 2021 I did not interact with folks who attended because if you know me, you know I really don’t like crowds of humans and so I try to limit my time in them as much as possible. So no, I didn’t speak to her at a “protest” either.
Then she went on to say she doesn’t have any social media which is a bit confusing because how would you get word of all these horses in sales barns/kill pens without online collaboration? The Florida woman launched into another sales pitch on why I should use her nephew and how it would save us all money. Again I said I wasn’t interested and we had it handled.
The communication then turned to her trying to ask what our max bids were for the Onaqui mares and the Florida woman wanted the name of the adopter who was taking them. Needless to say this was not disclosed. She wanted me to use her nephew to bid for us. I said no.
The day of the auction this Florida woman had arranged with the owner of the barn to bid on the phone because now the nephew can’t go. The barn called her for HOURS. I called her and texted her too…… the sale had been going on, and on, and on and the Florida woman just bailed. Wouldn’t return or answer anyone’s calls or texts.
She had even gone so far as to schedule a transport for the one Swasey mare with the same hauler we are using (not her nephew), but then went MIA on them too so if I wouldn’t have let them know what happened they’d still be planning to haul to Utah AND Texas. The sales barn however was told her nephew would be picking up the Swasey mare, not the other hauler she’d actually made arrangements with.
So here it is at 10:00pm and those three mustangs are standing there together the last to be sold and it’s just Ann and a kill buyer.
They both bid.
The Florida woman who had so adamantly stated she was taking the Swasey mare no matter what to send back to Utah is nowhere to be found despite numerous efforts to contact her by numerous people.
Ann wasn’t about to let that mare go to the kill buyer so she purchased her. And she loaded her right up and took her home last night.
She didn’t go to that auction to get any horses, she simply went to do whatever she could to help and to bid for us to see that the mustangs were safe. But if it wasn’t for Ann’s last second commitment that poor Swasey momma would be with that kill buyer as I type.
Because of some sort of scam out of Florida.
We are literally so grateful we are at a lack for adequate words at this point. I got the call we won and I actually cried.
This has been one heck of a messy situation but in the end because of the good hearts of good people the horses won one last night. They’ll be resting easy safe and sound hopefully for the rest of their days.

 
 
March 21, 2023 - The story of Ariat

Ariat has always held a special place for us being the lead roan band stallion who took over Goliath’s band in the south herd in Spring of 2021 along with his younger lieutenant Stetson. These two boys had been traveling along with the band without any conflict for quite some time, but eventually were able to push the much older Goliath out along with his four year old son.

Goliath was the first to vanish into the hills to recoup by himself for two months while his son tried valiantly to keep his place in the band. It was not to be and he was repeatedly chased off, mostly by Stetson, and about this time Goliath had returned from his sabbatical and his son immediately joined up with him again and the two traveled together constantly.

As a lot of people might know, this band was also Red Bird’s band along with Teton and Dreamcatcher.

It was one of the larger bands in the south and both Ariat and Steton took great care of, and were great teachers for, the youngsters. On July 15th their whole world changed as they were chased by the helicopters and pushed into the trap. The band was separated and some were taken to the Delta facility to be put up for adoption (Stetson, Ariat, Teton, Dreamcatcher, Half Moon, Golaith’s Boy and Ella) while the others were taken to Sutherland to be prepped for release into the wild 3 weeks later.

Ariat was estimated to be 11 years old upon intake and was a stunning horse. He was also true to the meaning of a wild mustang and all that implies. While some of the others warmed up to humans quite readily even while in holding Ariat was standoffish, wary and proud. There was never any doubt when watching him both in the wild and in the pens that he was not a horse who would allow for his wild spirit to be broken or tamed and so the plan was for him to hopefully go to Engler Canyon Ranch where he could continue to be everything he was meant to be.

In the final minutes of the auction there were some unexpected hiccups with the system and the winning bid for Ariat unfortunately did not fall to Enlger, but instead to a private adopter. Ever since January of 2021 I’ve been looking everywhere to try to find him and was braced to step in and rescue him this spring if he wound up in trouble or in a kill pen once his AIP payments were finalized. Then finally word came along this winter showing that he was in good health and seemingly doing well.

But apparently he wasn’t. We’ve since been able to put some pieces of the puzzle together to know that he was picked up by his adopter in the Utah BLM facility and transported to the west coast. There he stayed until July of 2022 when was returned by the original adopter to the Burns BLM facility in Oregon. So he’s been sitting there in Burns 8 months until he caught the eye of someone who could save him.

As fate would have it, Clare Staples was at the facility on behalf of Skydog to rescue a Stinkwater gelding slated to be sent to long term holding.

Rewinding back to the fall of 2021, Clare had volunteered her sanctuary as a forever home for Red Bird when I started to get concerned about personally covering the cost of ongoing medical care to make him comfortable and happy with the tumor that had grown in his left mandible. She too became invested in seeing this little mustang have the best quality of life possible and knew that Skydog had the staff and resources to give him just this.

Then without warning and completely out of nowhere on September 13, 2021 he was euthanized in the BLM pens. I had just been with him 4 days prior and he was happy, inquisitive and was eating hay out of my hand. His tumor was no longer raw, but had healed and he was still stuck like glue to Steton and Teton’s sides. Everyone was beyond devastated.

So here we are a year and a half later and it’s hard to believe it was anything less than the universe trying to right a wrong when she walked into the Burns facility for another horse, yet couldn’t take her eyes off a beautiful bay roan Onaqui gelding who was also slated to be shipped off to long term holding.

We immediately started receiving numerous calls and messages when her live video posted on Patreon showing this Onaqui gelding and the second I saw him and his tag number I knew.

Complete panic set in as we reached out to Clare to volunteer to cover the cost of Ariat’s bail and assist in transport if he could have a home at Skydog where once again his wild spirit could run free. Despite doing everything we could to save Red Bird we failed, but his band stallion still had a chance.

Tears flowed as he was loaded on her trailer to never have to worry about his safety again. All these months of looking and never giving up and by some miracle the pieces fell into place and the right person was in the right place at the right time with the right people watching live feeds and reaching out. For once it is a huge win.

So THANK YOU to our donors for making it possible for us to try to help when help is needed. And thank you to all those wonderful folks who immediately let us know about the Onaqui waiting in the wings in Burns, and thank you to Clare and Skydog for all they do for so many horses and in particular this one regal boy who refused to let anyone take his spirit.

December 30, 2022 - As 2022 finally draws to a close we reflect back on the year and how much gratitude we have for SO many donors and volunteers who have opened their hearts and believed in us along the way. And with that given us the ability to try to reach out far and wide to help as many Onaqui horses as possible.

Red Birds Trust has had a very busy year both in 2021 and 2022. Some of our work has been public, a lot has not.

Much thought goes into reasons for doing it both ways. It gets back to the simplicity of what’s best for the mustang and being able to help others further down the road.

In a nutshell, we worked in coordination with 9 sanctuaries to rescue/adopt 64 Onaqui wild horses and another 33 individuals to rescue/adopt 53 Onaqui for a total of 117. We were involved in helping an additional 21 Onaqui get to safety after their initial placements fell through for various reasons or they were found in a kill pen.

That’s 138 horses total in 16 months.

Red Birds Trust is a locally based organization. Being locally based was incredibly important to me when founding the 501c3. We are here on scene, and able to help immediately if a horse is in trouble on the range or otherwise.
Of our board members, 6 out of 7 can be on that HMA in case of emergency in about an hour, assuming we aren’t already out there somewhere. I feel incredibly fortunate to have met such lovely humans were willing to join the team and who believe in these wild ones and in doing whatever we can to help them.

Speaking of lovely humans – we’ve now had 3 successful range cleanup removing many miles of dangerous barbed wire fencing and t-posts from both the north and south Onaqui HMA. To do that we’ve had the help of volunteers from 13 different states all the way from the west coast to the east. All of them making the journey to Utah to try to make a better life for the wild horses and other wildlife who call the Onaqui HMA home. During the cleanups we’ve also been joined by members of 6 other local and national nonprofits.

2023 will bring two more range cleanups and the dates will be announced as soon as we have them but one is anticipated to be late May/early June and the other later in the Fall. We plan to give as much notice as possible so new volunteers as well as the regulars can join us out on the range for a day of fun, cleanup and mustang viewing.

In light of the numerous injuries found on the range this year and beloved horses we lost we want to remind everyone that we are nearby and here to help. Below are numbers you can call in case of emergency or if you’d simply like to ask a question or report an injury to our local team members.

You can message us here on Facebook, email us at: redbirdstrust@hotmail.com or if time is of the essence text to the numbers below.
(1) Tooele County Sheriff Land Line: (435) 882-5600
(2) Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse & Burrow Specialist: (801) 419-4552
(3) Red Birds Trust: (808) 214-6252 or (801) 824-7661
(both cell phones so we can receive texts with photos/videos)
A heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has loved and supported these special horses and wishing everyone a safe, healthy and Happy New Year!
 
November 29, 2022  There's no better day to wrap up our November Sanctuary Feature than on Giving Tuesday so we're sharing more images of the lucky Onaqui who currently get to call it home.

A week after I left Mustang Journey, Red Birds Trust was contacted by a very generous donor who saw a sale authority older mare up for sale who had basic groundwork started. As is the concern with lots of older bay or sorrel mares, no one wanted to see her end up in the wrong hands and subsequently sent to a kill pen. Especially considering her sweet demeanor and willingness to learn.
So thanks to this donor and the emphatic YES from Mustang Journey this pretty bay mare with her double neck brand and BZ hip freezemark from the north herd made her way to Ohio where she will get lots of TLC and groceries and she'll be trained under saddle along with Spirit, Adam, Eve and Bowie. As both Adam and Spirit are from the north herd as well she'll be in good company with old acquaintances from the range.
As with all of the sanctuaries we have featured over the past several months, donations make a huge difference in helping them continue to care for the current mustangs they have an potentially take in more. Sanctuaries can have different focuses and specialties, but they're hands on, boots on the ground, blood sweet and tears on a daily basis to try to do right by these mustangs.
If you want to follow the Onaqui and other mustangs to join the team at Mustang Journey or you're in their area and would like to volunteer you can follow their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/MustangJourneyOhio or go to their website and read more and/or donate at: http://www.mustangjourney.org/
 
 

September 9, 2022 - Giraffe & Leilani

Giraffe was an elderly buckskin pinto in the south Onaqui herd who was failing after being roundedup and removed in the 2021 roundup.  She was rapidly losing weight and was being bullied by other mares in her pen at the BLM facility.  Leilani was the 2021 filly of another friendly bay mare in Giraffe's band who Giraffe loved to nanny in her spare time in the wild.  Red Birds Trust was delighted when we asked Wild Heart Sanctuary in Park City, Utah if they would provide a safe forever landing for these ladies and they said yes!  We covered the cost of their adoption fees and transportation to thier new home where they have been thriving ever since.

 
 
July 2, 2022 - Onaqui Mare #8038 is finally going home! Nearly 12 months after being captured in the July 2021 roundup, this sweet, dainty little momma is going to be reunited with her 2021 foal Clover.

This beautiful little lady is a petite chocolate brown mare without a spec of white on her. She was part of Silver Stars band in the south and was Onaqui Catalogue #289. She has a long, feminine face and a very sweet and calm nature with a pure black mane that falls to the right. She is mother to little baby Clover who was born on March 15, 2021. I found them high up at the base of the Simpson Mountain range very early that windy spring morning. Little Clover was still soaking wet with little crinkled ears and momma laid next to her for a long while then helped her to her feet to nurse.
She’s fallen through the cracks over and over again first being left by her adopter who bid on her in the Internet Adoption Event last December, then having adopters no-show repeatedly for her pickup, and failing to find a home at a recent in person adoption event as well.
Through all of this we’ve been working with BLM getting status updates on her, recommending her to adopters and refusing to let her be that horse that went unnoticed and without a home.
Finally her forever home showed up – and it’s the completely incredible sanctuary who took her weanling daughter Clover. So this sweet 7 year old little chocolate momma is going to be with her daughter once again in Missouri at Dreamchasers PMU and we are helping with the costs of hauling to get her there.
It's a 20 hour trip and over 1300 miles one way, but the end result will be an incredible gift for both mare and her baby.
Any donation helps as the cost of fuel continues to soar.
 
July 13, 2022 UPDATE: Clover's mother 'Lady Luck' is loaded and on her way to Missouri to be reunited with her daughter. She should arrive Thursday or Friday depending on travel conditions. We will post photos and videos of the grand reunion.

July 14, 2022 UPDATE: Lady had arrived safe and sound!!! She and Clover are spending the night outside in the round pen together.
 
 
June 6, 2022 - It's taken several weeks of constant work, networking and hooves crossed, but we finally have good news to share about Avalanche's lead mare who's original placement in New York unfortunately didn't work out.

This beautiful grey girl is estimated to be between 12-16 years old and was a wonderful leader and helper for Avalanche, Sweetie, Moonbeam, Salt, Sunshine and Adonis among others. She was calm and collected in the wild and led with wisdom versus sass.
She was rounded up in July of 2021 and was purchased by an adopter in the December online event and shipped to Ewing, Illinois in March, then from there got on a private trailer to New York.
We received a message from her adopter in May that the placement wasn't working out as she wasn't warming up to humans and needed a safe forever home. After literally days upon days of reaching out to every contact I had or could think of we got lucky.
Paradise Dreams Animal Sanctuary in CA who rescued several of our Onaqui in the 2021 auction had contacts on the East Coast. We were put in contact with a lovely mustang owner also in New York who then put us in touch with Equine Advocates. As luck would have it they had one space opening up and a large black gelding who would be in need of a friend.
So Saturday this lovely ladies adopter made the 3 hour haul to deliver her to Equine Advocates where she will be able to spend out her days on their amazing 140 acre property. She will be gentled for vet and hoof care, but otherwise she will live her life in peace with many other horse friends. As of Saturday night they were able to spend time with her in her pen within a foot while feeding her and said she was totally at ease.
I was literally at the end of my rope both with ideas and connections to contact for this pretty girl but it just goes to show like anything else just putting one foot in front of the other will eventually get you there. A big thank you to Paradise Dreams for also going above and beyond to search for solutions on the other side of the country!

Updates from Equine Advocates will be shared so that folks can follow along in her new journey.

UPDATE: June 20, 2022 from Equine Advocates: 

Onaqui is getting more used to people every day! Since our sanctuary welcomes visitors all year, more on some days than others, it’s essential that our equines are used to seeing people, even if they don’t want to closely interact with them. Since her arrival, Onaqui has been visited by several groups of students during class visits, who also learned about Wild Mustang and Burro issues while they were here. She may not realize it, but Onaqui plays an important role at our sanctuary, along with our other three Wild Mustangs: Nelson, Hayden, and Kachina. They are ambassadors for the wild horse issue and help teach people about the negative impact that these cruel and unnecessary roundups have on the viability of our wild herds. We want their stories to help educate children and adults on this important topic so we can all work to end the roundups.
Learn more about Wild Mustang issues on our website: https://www.equineadvocates.org/the.../wild-mustangs-burros/

 
 
April 19, 2022 - 50 Shades of Rescue (first three images are injuries sustained due to treatment from initial adopter and the final image is his release in a sanctuary next to a mustang in good body condition that was the same size as he was before leaving the BLM facility)
Animal rescue is hard.
For those who pour their hearts, hands, pocketbooks and souls into it that’s probably the most simple sentence that could ever be written about the reality of what rescue looks like. Every animal is different, every rescue is different and every relinquishing owner is different. Sometimes the relinquishment is voluntary, sometimes the animal has already been abandoned and sometimes it’s somewhere in between.
This story, as shocking as it is, unfortunately is true. It is the story of one Onaqui horse who by no fault of its own wound up in the wrong hands and what that rescue then looked like over the next two weeks. The horse’s given name and location have been changed, but the chronological events are all recounted as they occurred.
The 12 year old black gelding, who for purposes of this story will be referred to as “Jackson,” was rounded up from the north Onaqui HMA in July of 2021. He was a powerful and well-built band stallion who took vigilant care of his band of 9. He then found himself in the Delta, Utah holding facility for the next 8 months where he was gelded, vaccinated and finally transported to a private adopter several states away.
Jackson arrived to his new “home” in early March of 2022 where he was immediately forced into a rope halter with an 8 foot lead attached. He lived in a small round pen which bordered another round pen housing a second Onaqui gelding adopted by the same individual. The property was owned by a TIP trainer, however this trainer had no faith in Jackson.
The trainer told the owner within a week of him being on the property he should be taken to a sales barn. Anyone in the horse world knows what “sales barns” in border towns really mean. Those barns sell these horses by the pound to kill buyers who then transport them across the border to Mexico to be slaughtered for consumption.
So after one week in a small pen, wearing a non-breakable halter and dragging a rope, after 8 months in a crowded government pen, after being chased by helicopters the trainer decided this horse should be sold for meat. Because he was over 10, he was purchased by the “adopter” outright therefore he was titled and it was legal to sell him. He no longer had Federal protection. He’d spent 12 years of his life in the wild, yet within one week a trainer recommend he be thrown away and after 3 weeks the owner agreed.
It was decided he was a dangerous horse because neither the adopter or the trainer could enter his pen without the horse displaying an adverse reaction.
He was being fed nothing but grain. Grain to mustangs is basically like horse crack. The claim was that he wouldn’t eat hay. Only grain. This is absurd. This same horse who ate nothing but grass in the wild, who ate nothing but hay in the BLM facility now wouldn’t eat hay?
Apparently he wasn’t eating grain either because in only a month this horse lost close to 150 pounds. The images taken upon arrival compared to images taken at the time of his rescue are nothing short of shocking.
The bridge of his nose was now scared from having the halter and lead constantly rubbing on it. The adopter got it on, but said it wasn’t possible to get it off.
A plea went out on social media that horse needed to go to a sanctuary – he was a dangerous horse – he wouldn’t eat hay – he simply couldn’t be trained. Red flags went up. Already another adopted Onaqui had died in this same adopters care after being home for less than a day. Now this.
A sanctuary with 20,000 acres for rescued wild horses to roam immediately came to the rescue. It seemed like the problem was solved, but it was only beginning.
The trainer decided that the horse would only be give a week more on their property to be picked up by the sanctuary several states away or else it would go to the sales barn to be auctioned off. He wanted that pen empty. Wanted more room to move more mustangs through he said. Yes, the adopter paid full board but it didn’t matter. No he wouldn’t lose any sleep if that horse wound up dead.
So now 6 days were left to get Jackson out.
But not without a cost. A horse that was purchased for $25 now had a price tag. He wasn’t going to be released for free. The adopter demanded $300, but that quickly turned to $500. They’d get a minimum of $500 at the Sales Barn so they wouldn’t let Jackson go for any less. Not to a sanctuary, not to anyone.
So what started out as a plea for help quickly morphed into a demand for payment. Payment for a life.
No, they weren’t willing to talk with a Brand Inspector to ensure ease of transport across state lines. No they weren’t willing to have a vet out. No they can’t take his halter or lead off which was now rubbing on the most sensitive part of his nostrils 24x7.
You can’t get anywhere near that horse they said. He’s going to kill someone they said.
The day of the arranged pickup more threats were made. Time limits set. Be here within 2 hours to get the horse or it’s going to the sales barn. The pickup location then moved from the TIP trainers property to the sales barn itself. Jackson had been loaded and transported then unloaded and put into a chute to try to cut his halter off.
The right side of his face was bloodied. His right knee was swollen. He had cuts new and old all over his front legs. The adopter said a “skid steer” tractor was used on him while he was in the chute. They said the barn owner said to just kill him if they couldn’t get him out of the chute safely.
What was a $500 demand for payment turned to $525. The owner wanted payment for using the barn for removal of the halter and lead. So a detour to find an ATM in rural middle of nowhere began.
All for $25.
The hauler showed up 2 hours after the confirmation was sent that the halter was now off. And the horse was soaking wet. Completely lathered with sweat and sunken in. So in the two hours after he was put in a chute, handled with a skid steer tractor, cut up and hurt his knee he was then run without water to the point he was dripping.
Jackson simply walked without incident into the trailer. All the way to the back and waited. The hauler entered the trailer with him and shut the compartment while he calmly watched her the whole time. No reaction, no threat, nothing.
Through state lines he rode. He drained one bucket of water after another. Very dehydrated and beat up. He arrived to the sanctuary where a vet immediately did an assessment. His scrapes, gashes and injured knee should heal. He needed time in the medical pen, but would eventually be released with the rest of the Onaqui who called this sprawling acreage home.
The trailer was opened and once again Jackson calmly took in the sites of yet another new home. He stepped off without incident. Slowly he wandered away to be greeted by 3 other Onaqui horses calling the med pen their temporary home.
The size difference between Jackson and the black band stallion living here at the sanctuary was staggering. Once happy and healthy in the wild, then fed very well in the BLM facility, they now looked like polar opposites. One full of forage and muscles, the other with a belly sunken up and his structure looking weak at best.
What had begun a plea for help on Social Media turned into a weeklong rollercoaster of demands for payment, statements that no, they didn’t care if the horse went to slaughter, scrapes, slices and injuries to Jackson’s legs and face and a horse that was basically starved for the month he was in their care. How else is that much weight loss to be explained?
All because they said they wanted the money to buy another mustang to replace him. So a $25 horse now went for $525 in a month. Because someone didn’t care if he lived and others very much did.
One horse had already died under their care, one has been abused and now they are in search of more.
With rescue, owner surrenders are just that. Someone surrendering an animal because they no longer have the ability or the means to care for them. I have never seen a surrender turn into escalating demands for payment and threats to sell the animal off to a sales barn – halter and all. I hope I never do again.
Jackson is now safe and he always will be. He is reunited with Onaqui family he knew from the range and he can rest and gain his weight back and let his wounds heal. He is safe because a generous donor covered the cost of his ransom and because a sanctuary plunged in with both feet and arranged and paid for transportation to get a hauler committed to getting him out safely in very short order.
Not many people are privy to the day to day of the rescue world and it can be brutal. It can also be very rewarding.
*** We are very grateful that Bureau of Land Management and Mustang Heritage Foundation take situations like these seriously and are open to receipt of reports from individuals and organizations to help them with internal investigations and proper care and placement of our beloved mustangs.***
 
 March 29, 2022 - Please help to get this mare 8108 reunited in a wonderful private home with her baby colt known as Legend. This mare was shipped all the way across the country via free BLM transport where she was subsequently abandoned by her would-be adopter and left in the BLM holding facility.

There is limited time to raise the $1600 needed to transport her home to be reunited with her son Legend and any amount will help. This was an unexpected second adoption for Legends human mom so we want to help her to ensure the mare reaches her final forever home safely and as soon as possible.
Donations can be made via Facebook, PayPal (redbirdstrust@hotmail.com) or check (772 Main Street #273, Tooele UT 84074). Please put a mem "Legend" in your check or paypal donation.
Thank you so much and let's get this momma home! She's been in BLM pens since July of 2021!
UPDATE: YOU DID IT!!!!

I can't even begin to express how touched we are to have not only reached our goal, but exceeded it. This sweet little Onaqui momma will be going home to be reunited with her son Legend in a few short days at a private adopters home. You can follow along in their journey at the Legend the Onaqui Mustang facebook page where this little fella gets all the loves and pets he can possibly handle.

The outpouring of love and support for this group of mustangs over the past year has been nothing short of miraculous. Truly.

As you may have noticed not only did we meet our goal, but we actually exceeded it! This was completely unexpected but the first thing that came to mind was to split the extra donations between two sanctuaries who went above and beyond during the last internet adoption and took whatever Onaqui horses seemed most at risk, were heavily pregnant, or needed to stay together.

These sanctuaries were promised abundant donations from sponsors and donors, all of which fell through after the adoptions were finalized. Of course sanctuaries weren't taking the horses based on monetary promises, however, as any horse owner knows horses are not cheap keepers and these sanctuaries are mostly kept afloat off volunteer efforts and kind donations from sponsors.

To state it simply - without support from local communities near and far animal rescues and sanctuaries wouldn't be able to exist.

So there will be an additional $450 donated to two sanctuaries - Dreamchasers PMU and Paradise Dreams Animal Sanctuary.

As we've said before, no horse left behind and we hope to be able to continue to help individual adopters, sanctuaries and wild Onaqui on the range for countless years to come.
 
 March 9, 2022 -  Another happy Onaqui adoption story to brighten the week.

Meet Strawberry and Cullen who became the poster horses for our Save The Onaqui campaign last year. Their faces appeared on billboards throughout Salt Lake City and their images were shared far and wide by Katherine Heigl who became a strong voice in leading the fight to try to preserve their freedom.
Strawberry is a stunning sorrel from the North Onaqui HMA and Cullen was her little 2021 colt with one mesmerizing blue eye. The two were inseparable in their time on the range, but then Cullen was immediately weaned and taken from her after being rounded up last July and taken to a BLM holding facility. Both were then put up for adoption along with over 300 others.
We put in a big ask to an anonymous local adopter if they would please take these two in an effort to reunite mother and son and allow them to live out their lives in peace. The answer was yes!
So in January I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be able to make the journey from Delta, Utah to the adopters heavenly ranch with the help of a wonderful volunteer (and their trailer). It was a few hour journey for Strawberry and little Cullen and they’d been apart for 6 months at that point, but they didn’t miss a beat after being reunited. They casually walked off the trailer together getting a welcome greeting from the other rescued horses and donkey’s and began peacefully eating their hay like all was right with the world.
I received word this week that Strawberry is appearing heavily pregnant so not only did she get Cullen back, but she will be having a new little Onaqui in the next month or two who will never have to know the fear of being chased by helicopter or separated from its mom.
We are forever grateful for all the adopters who stepped forward to give these horses a safe landing and for those who stepped up before that to try to keep them wild and free.
 February 14, 2022 -  Today seems like a great day for a love story so here goes.

Meet little Hope and little Whiney.
Both were born in the north Onaqui herd in the spring 2021 and both were rounded up when the helicopters flew in July and ended up in the Delta BLM holding facility.
Hope was born as near as anyone can tell on March 2nd, the same day that BLM was making the formal announcement that a roundup was scheduled to remove 80% of our beloved Onaqui horses and so her name became Hope – with Hope that the roundup could be stopped and she and her family would remain wild and free.
At some point between living in the wild and living in the pens Hope’s left eye was damaged and rendered her blind on that side. Fortunately the Delta facility doesn’t euthanize partially blind horses like many other facilities so finding Hope an understanding and experienced adopter became a mission we all took seriously.
It became apparent shortly once the pens were opened to the public that Whiney was always right by Hope’s side. And her left side at that. Whiney was acting in what seemed to be a guide horse or sorts for our sweet Hope. So now it wasn’t a matter of finding a home just for Hope – Whiney needed to be able to stay by her side too.
Dreamchasers PMU Horse Rescue (https://www.dreamchaserhorserescue.org/) was that perfect home.
They readily agreed to do whatever was needed to make sure these little fillies were able to live out their lives together with plenty of love, attention and pasture to play in. So with happy hearts these two besties loaded on the trailer early last month enroute to their new forever home where Whiney can continue to take care of Hope for countless years to come.
 February 10, 2022 - Stetson.

Stetson embodies all that is good and right and just. He was the younger of two roan stallions who eventually took over Goliath's band in the south Onaqui HMA this spring. (Red Birds family) He was calm and thoughtful yet quick to protect those he loved.
This remained consistent without fail even after the roundup when he was housed in a pen with yearling Teton who I adopted. Stetson was always by Teton's side guiding him and keeping the peace if older stallions began to get aggravated. He physically put himself between Teton and conflict erupting more times than I can count and was a guardian over Red Bird as well before Red Bird was euthanized by the BLM last September.
A placement was found with an experienced mustang caretaker in the very beginning so we were relieved knowing this boy would be in safe hands. However the morning the adoption event was concluding the adopter backed out and a desperate plea was made the Engler Canyon Ranch to take him. They immediately agreed without question.
Red Birds Trust donated the funds to cover his adoption expenses and finally last week this wonderful gelding who'd spent so much of his time protecting the others loaded on that trailer to go to his final home where he would live a life of protection in the wild once again.
Run free and wild pretty boy - you've earned every last bit of it. And thanks to Enler Canyon Ranch for giving him a second chance!
 
 
 February 9, 2022 - Today is the day that beautiful little Quinn finally begins his new life.

Known as tag #8110 in the Delta corrals, Quinn was often mistaken for Dreamcatcher (8077) and visa versa. Quinn was born on March 18, 2021 at 5:12pm at the base of Davis Mountain surrounded by the love of his heard and protection of his band stallion. I can’t believe my fortune at not only being there to see the whole thing unfold, but also to find the little rock hopper at dawn the very next morning following along with ease as his family traversed higher up in the mountain grazing and resting as the sun rose higher in the sky.
Quinn grew and learned in those 4 short months he spent wild and free and then the helicopters took to the sky. Quinn was chased into the trap where his mother broke her leg and had to be euthanized. He was sent to holding as an orphan.
As the months dragged on Quinn became one of the friendliest foals at the facility – begging for human attention, loving his nose kisses and thinking zippers and jackets were absolutely fascinating. He also became quite the little ham for home cell phone videos.
Little did he know he had a blanket of protection from humans that loved him doing their best to see he had a safe forever placement that honored his vibrant spirit and loving nature. Paradise Dreams Animal Sanctuary was just that place. (https://www.facebook.com/paradisedreamsanimalsanctuary)
Without question they committed immediately to providing him everything he could ask for and they never waivered.
Today was the day that little Quinn (now not so little anymore) at 11 months and 21 days old loaded onto the trailer with other lucky Onaqui horses to head to Paradise Dreams to start their new lives.
We cannot express our gratitude for all of the outpouring of love and support during the past year to try to protect and provide for the best interest of these special mustangs. Paradise Dreams Animal Sanctuary will have so many wonderful new stories to share of these rescues and others and we hope that the Onaqui Community will enjoy following them as much as we are.
It takes a village. Safe travels little Quinn, I’m sure your mom is watching over you and along for the ride as you finally get to be settled in and safe again with some old friends from the range and some new ones too.
 
January 9, 2022 - Nothing like a little more good news to round out the week. Meet Mystique and his momma Denali. Mystique was born on June 19, 2021 in the south HMA and the photo below of him nursing was at all of 1 day old.
Mystique along with Kamali (Dotty's colt) was the youngest of the babies brought into Delta and he was rounded up a few days shy of a month old. On top of seeing him the day after he was born, I was also in the pens the day after both he and Kamali were weaned from their moms (at around 4 months of age) and placed in the pen with the rest of the weanling boys. Needless to say they were less than thrilled.
Denali had a large abscess in on of her front hooves so she was moved into a med pen where she has remained since and her foot was repeatedly treated and bandaged until she was good as new. As luck would have it, the med pen is directly across from the weanling boys pen so she has 24/7 view of her little boy. Over the past couple months little Mystique has grown like a weed and has really come out of his shell now venturing away from his bff Kamali to socialize with the other horses and come say hi to us humans who visit so often.
Mystique will be reunited with momma Denali at Dreamchasers PMU sanctuary where they will get all the love and attention they can handle. If you haven't heard of them, Dreamchasers is a wonderful GFAS certified sanctuary/rescue with many, many years spent rescuing and providing homes for PMU mares, kill pen horses, etc. They were one of the first to reach out and offer any assistance they could at placing Onaqui mustangs and we will forever be grateful for their generous hearts and open minds and willingness to help whoever they could.
It makes hearts happy to know that even if they can't be free out on the range, they'll be given friends and family back and every chance to be happy that a horse could hope for.
 




December 29, 2021 -  A new happy ending to share with everyone

The story of the $18,000 horse.

This is band stallion 416bs from the north Onaqui herd who took very good care of young colt Indio. Many know and love Indigo because of his stunning ice blue eyes. He is 15 years old and absolutely dashing. He is also very strong, very intelligent and retained his dignity and poise through all these months at Delta.

Being an old, bay band stallion with a strong personality he also is at a much greater risk for a failed placement putting him potentially in a kill pen. Already we are seeing Onaqui from the 2019 roundup being returned to local facilities and dumped at kill pens and thinking this is a real possibility for horses out of this 2021 roundup is just unfathomable.

After posting his photo on the last day of the auction as a spokesperson for those in temporary holding the internet trolls jumped at the opportunity to run his online price up to the tune of $18,000. Yes, $18,000. Unfortunately they weren't held accountable for placing bogus bids and of course backed out as soon as the auction closed.

The good news is that he was then offered to the backup bidder who is a wonderful sanctuary in California called Paradise Dreams Animal Sanctuary. I had the pleasure of coordinating with them for a few months to help offer suggestions of what horses may be in need of a special, soft landing or who are likely to be overlooked during the process. This strong, handsome, and very dignified old stallion was one of those suggestions that they embraced immediately.

It warms my heart to no end that despite attempts to sabotage the well-being of this stallion, goodness prevailed and he will be given a loving forever home where he has the right to choose. Choose the depth of his relationships with humans, relationships with other rescued horses and learn to trust in his own time.

There will be many more happy stories coming, from this rescue and many others.....
 
 
December 26, 2021 - We are so grateful to all our lovely supporters this holiday season who have stuck by us through the last several months while we not only fought to stop the roundup and removal of 432 Onaqui horses, but continued on our journey to ensure that all 303 horses who ended up in the Delta, UT corrals found a way out.

With 18,000 wild horses and burros being taken from our public lands in 2021 alone and another 20,000 slated for removal in 2022 and 2023 trying to imagine them all finding a soft place to land is unfathomable.

This is one of the first of many success stories that I'd like to share. The little filly pictured below is known as Clover and she was born on March 15, 2021 high up on the Simpson Mountain Range in the southern section of the HMA. The images below are of her when she was no more than an hour old and then again when she was 6 months and 13 days old in the BLM corals.

When I went to the range that morning I could have no idea what a special surprise I was about to stumble upon. I found the main herd in the distance, but also Silver Stars band quite a ways off from them with the beautiful grey stallion standing guard overlooking the valley. As I began the long hike to get to them through tall weeds and sage it was really with the intention of photographing Silver Star with such an epic backdrop. His mane and slight dappling always so beautiful through the winter months.

However before I could get to him I nearly stopped dead in my tracks as I just barely saw a mares head above the weeds not far in front of me. To my delight there was a tiny little filly, still wet with ears crinkled and fur a mess laying in a little ball beside her. And so Clover had just been born. I named her after the little "c" in her forehead and hoped that she'd be blessed with good luck.

Poor Clover along with the rest of her band got chased by helicopters into the trap and loaded on livestock trailers only 4 months later almost to the day. After watching her grow up from literally day 1 she was one little filly among many that deserved nothing but the best.

We are so fortunate to have been contacted by several sanctuaries who reached out with various interests, but mostly to care for horses in need who may have been overlooked. Mares of course are at a higher risk of not getting adopted and as recently as last week Onaqui began showing up in kill pens from the 2019 roundup. (more on that later)
So little Clover was adopted by a wonderful team at Dreamchasers PMU who without question agreed to try to provide loving homes for malnourished horses, horses with injuries or who just needed a permanent forever home. She will be gentled and fawned over by staff, kids and grandkids alike and have so many horse friends to bond with for the rest of her life.

We are eternally grateful for all the donations, moral support, kind words, networking and trust that we've received. Clover is just one of so very many that has been helped and we can't wait to continue to share more stories in the coming days and weeks.......
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