Meet our Ambassadors
All of the mustangs at Skydog are ambassadors for every unwanted wild horse across America. From those being sold at auction, to those sitting in kill pens waiting to be shipped to slaughter, to those imprisoned in BLM holding pens for their whole lives - the horses at Skydog Sanctuary each tell a powerful story of the sad fates of so many rounded up mustangs.
Most of the horses at Skydog are wild and “unbroken” and live free on our 9000 acre ranch in Oregon. Unbothered and untouched by people, these are horses that are happier left alone.
Some of the horses here, however, have been through BLM prison programs which take wild horses that have been rounded up and teach prisoners to gentle them in 90 days, when they are then auctioned off to members of the public interested in acquiring a “living symbol of the American west”.
Skydog encourages and urges members of the public to adopt mustangs from these programs or directly from the BLM and the incredible horses that people see and meet here are living proof of how truly special they are
The horses at skydog sanctuary are wonderful trail horses but there are examples of mustangs becoming champion dressage horses, champion western pleasure horses, talented jumpers, as well as being used by the border patrols, by police and military as well as search and rescue teams. Mustangs are hardy, sure-footed, easy keepers that can turn their sound and quick minds to any task they are trained for.
Meet some of the horses at sky dog who are ambassadors - raising awareness and bringing attention to the issues wild horses face, for all of their not so fortunate friends……
The leader of the mustang herd here. Buddy (above) has been ridden by a lot of amazing people including Julianne Hough (pictured) and has also been photographed with many visiting celebrities.
This is what the BLM can tell me about Buddy : He was rounded up in Little Humboldt, Nevada NV0102, out of the Elko District on 8/17/2004. He is titled, a palomino gelding with an estimated birth date of 1/1/03.
But what I know is that on that day he was chased by helicopters for miles with his family and friends into a chute that they constructed and then ripped away from his parents and the horses he grew up with, taken to a BLM holding facility at Palomino Valley where he was processed, freeze branded on his neck, and then transferred to Carson City Prison for training.
I did everything I could to reunite Buddy with his family. It took me years to find out where they were and then months of emailing various people at the BLM to adopt them until I finally managed to find three mares from his herd……..and it was the best day ever to see them together, free as they were meant to be. It was worth everything to see Buddy together with his herd, living in peace with other mustangs, in a place we all love.
JIMMY and BONO
Actor Matthew Rhys was a good friend and from riding Buddy decided he wanted to adopt his own mustang. We flew up together to Carson City Prison and there were two horses he liked. We met their trainer on the morning of the auction and asked him about them both. He just kept repeating that they were very bonded, that they were brothers and shouldn't be separated. Matthew only wanted one horse and when the first one came into the arena he bid on him and won.
Throughout the time he was bidding we noticed his brother craning his neck to see his friend, nickering and calling out to him, nervous and unsure without him. A couple more mustangs were up next and we sat silently happy to have secured a great home for JIMMY but as the brother was brought out and the bidding started Matthew suddenly turned to me and said ‘Lets go halves to keep them together.” As i looked at the face of the horse still keeping one eye on his friend whilst he circled the ring, I knew we had no choice. “DEAL” - and Matthew raised his hand again and we won BONO.
They have never been apart since and Jimmy and Bono are one of the main reasons that we work SO hard to reunite friends, family bands, bonded horses. The close attachments these horses form are powerful to see and our happiest moments come in bringing back together horses that love each other.
Jimmy and Bono have been ridden by the most amazing people as they are the most sound steady solid horses in the herd……Jimmy is pictured above with Jennifer Lawrence riding him and has also been ridden by Gerard Butler, Tim Roth, Bailey Chase. Rachel Hunter and Leona Lewis.
NOTE - BONO sadly passed away in his stall of an aneurism in October 2016 - he will never be forgotten by anybody who knew him x
CASH and JAGGER
When I got married my husband Chris became very interested in the mustang issue and eventually he wanted to adopt a horse and have his own special bond with one. We flew up to Carson City and found Jagger (pictured above on the left). Chris fell in love with him the second he saw him. Jagger is from the Owyhee HMA in Nevada and they are incredible horses.
The problem was that there was another horse at the prison auction that I fell in love with. I didn't go there looking for another horse but I also never met a mustang I didn't love and something about this big beautiful young bay stole my heart. I have learned never to go to auction with a three horse trailer for one horse!! So Cash and Jagger came to the ranch as two more ambassadors for all the adoption mustangs out there.
They are paid for entirely with private money and no skydog sanctuary donations go towards their upkeep but they are part of the family and do a wonderful job of promoting the adoption programs and showing people, famous and not, what incredible riding horses these mustangs are.