THEN AND NOW
We get so many pleas for help for horses in need but this boy’s story just broke all of our hearts. An incredible lady contacted us trying to get this horse to a new safe and beautiful life after all he had been through. Here’s what she wrote:
“River was adopted from the BLM and ended up in the hands of a Mexican family who used him as a tripping horse. From there he ended up owned by a family whose father would get belligerently drunk and beat the crap out of River. The teenage son walked River to a neighbor’s house and begged an old lady to take him to save him from his dad. The horse has a history of mishandling and severe abuse. Several trainers have tried to get him saddle broke but he is just terrified. After going through yet another home it has been determined River would have a much happier and better life just being left alone. Looking for pasture homes is a scary prospect and at only 14 years old and sound, I fear someone will continue trying to train him with potentially less than gentle methods, as humans get frustrated. River is a sweet boy, and completely gentle and non-aggressive, but he is extremely flighty and can even be impossible to catch for some people. I believe River deserves to be left alone to just be a horse, but finding that home is looking impossible and the owner is getting ready to send him to auction.”
We knew we had to get River so he could start his new life with us in Oregon. He needed sanctuary and a new life full of love, kindness and no demands. After all he has endured to still be kind and gentle is astonishing. This is the type of mustang we started Skydog to save!
We are so grateful to people like the woman who wrote us about River, and to all those who write letters and call rescues and try to help these horses and get their stories out into the world. And especially to the young boy who rescued him from his abusive father to get him to safety — I wish I could hug you. River is safe now. He will never again know anger or abuse. He will live out his days in freedom enjoying nothing but love and kindness and roaming the hills. Welcome home River xx
CHIEF AND HAWK
We were contacted by the BLM corrals about a young horse who was going to have to be euthanized. He had a severe leg injury and was not getting any better from it. We drove up to take a look and see if there was anything we could do to help him. He had been put in a small pen with another injured horse who did seem to be doing better. They were both young, only 2 and 3 years old, and were rounded up last October from Warm Springs. The two were so bonded however and never left each other for one second. With all the noise and commotion of a working corral with over 800 horses in it they were both very spooky and moved constantly due to the stresses.
One of the hardest things to do is to spend time with a horse, look into their eyes and then walk away knowing their immediate fate. We wanted to take these lost boys and help them, gentle them so we could treat their injuries and do whatever we could to get them well.
We have seen incredible cases of stallions in the wild with serious breaks and fractures managing to heal and live long and happy lives, albeit with a mangled leg. Compared to that this boys injury was not that bad. He was not ready to go to heaven and we believed we could help him. And we wouldn’t dream of taking him without the friend he was so dependent on. So we brought both of them home to Oregon.
The roan we named Hawk and the appaloosa is Chief. We had the vet out and Hawk had x-rays, luckily there was no fracture. He had had a wound that got infected in the corrals, and sadly it went into the joint and fused the bone. He will never be able to walk perfectly but we and our wonderful vet are hopeful that he can live a pain-free life and manage his injury. He has such fight for life and a will to live and we are continuing to give him every chance to do that. His friend Chief was gloriously happy and ran around bucking and jumping for joy - which to be honest is his reaction to most things in life xx
REDFORD AND EASTWOOD
Redford and Eastwood were bought at a sale authority adoption event and almost immediately dumped at a killpen. Their mark up - from 25 dollars to $750 each - is criminal and needs to end.
These boys are unhandled and wild but gentle and curious. It is our hope to get them gentled so that someone will step up for them and give them a forever home. Nothing would make us happier than for these two boys to have their own person but they will be with us until that miracle happens and we would love them to be sponsored. They are young, most likely around 3, and as soon as we can we will shave their brands to find out what HMA they came from.
These two horses came closer than any others we saved to actually being on the slaughter truck leaving for Mexico !!!!!!! at the very last second they were moved out of the ship pen and marked SAFE/SOLD to Skydog thanks to you all xxx
Louisa was a killpen save rescued on Christmas Eve. She was sent to us numerous times during the day and suddenly the thought of her standing in that killpen at Christmas seemed to touch all of us. 2019 is our big push to get the SAFE Act passed so we had already voted to do a couple more saves to raise awareness and get people motivated to take action. We posted her photos not thinking anyone would respond much due to it being Christmas Eve but somehow she seemed to embody the true spirit of the holidays and we were so overwhelmed with the response and generosity that we were also able to bail her friend Star.
Due to her having been starved and being so skinny Jon and I travelled to Texas to get her ourselves so that we could oversee every part of the haul and make sure she was doing well. Although she was skinny she wasn’t weak and seemed so thrilled to jump on our trailer to freedom. She has had so much energy and fight since arriving to Malibu she amazes everyone who meets her. We adore her and are so grateful to all the people who stepped up at Christmas to get her home to us. Louisa is named after my mother who passed away Christmas day and her rescue is forever dedicated to my wonderful mummy who gave me such a love of horses and was so proud of all we have achieved in helping so many of them.
Braveheart was a horse we had been asked to take for months but didn’t have space for him. This gelding is a 15 year old New Mexico mustang born in BLM holding. He was adopted and gentled but then ended up in Arizona with an older gentleman who really couldn’t care for him properly. We were told he was in a tiny pipe corral which shrank in size every time this destructive and traumatized mustang would smash a panel trying to get out. He stood in this tiny square pen without shade or shelter for years and years, they emptied his water into his pen so he got continual abscesses in his hooves, and a horse chewed his tail off through the pipe stall. He was said to be destructive, spooky and dangerous. But we took him in.
Braveheart had to spend a little time in our barn while his feet healed up and we got him a little more food to give him the strength to join one of our herds. While there he met and bonded with one of our other horses named Ripley. They became best friends and now are turned out together with a herd of eleven other wild mustangs living their best life. We are so grateful to everyone who donated to help us bring him to us.
As part of our campaign to #passthesafeact to stop american horses shipping to slaughter across our borders we decided to rescue this mustang from a killpen in Louisiana. He had been languishing there for several weeks and was getting very close to shipping to slaughter. We launched a rescue for him and sent our trust hauler Carla down South to pick him up. He was in fairly good shape for a killpen horse although when he got to us we realized he was mentally traumatized and very unwilling to trust people for a while. We quarantined him and he started little by little to make a connection with us which was beautiful to watch as each day passed.
More than anything we would like Cisco's rescue to bring change to this cruel and inhumane trade in horse meat which results in over 150,000 horses shipping to slaughter ever year. Horse slaughter affects wild mustangs more than any other horses as they can be bought for so little they are a target for killbuyers to make money on their flesh and for them to end up on foreign dinner plates being eaten. The SAFE Act HR 113 needs more co-sponsors to get it to the floor for a vote so that no more beautiful horses like Cisco end up killed.
When we were sending our hauler to Louisiana to pick up Cisco we got news that there was another Mustang in the killpen about to ship. We scrambled to get him safe and bring him home to Skydog Oregon. During the ride to us and the stopover in Colorado where they stopped for a week to build up strength, they formed a bond that hasn't been broken since they arrived. They hauled together, quarantined together, got stronger together and were ultimately turned out together. They are inseparable and we like to think they both know how lucky they got making it out of that dreadful place.
Feather is an 11 year old Nevada mustang and who knows what his story is. Apparently he used to be used as a ranch horse then left for several years and ended up dumped in a killpen. Since making his bond with Cisco he has been one of the most gentle, well balanced, slow and steady horses we have. For now we have turned him and Cisco out with the bachelor band running free on a thousand acres of our ranch with their own pond and trees for shade and pasture to graze. We are so happy for the accident that was Feather's rescue and hope he lives a long and happy life with his best friend.
Ireland was dumped at Fallon Feedlot, hours away from shipping to slaughter we managed to rescue her just in the nick of time. She was completely terrified when we got her and now loves to be around people and is the first to the fence to look for treats and snacks.
She was described as being heavily pregnant which is so appalling that they were about to ship her to slaughter in that condition. Many horses do not make the long hauls to Mexico or Canada and the weaker horses often fall and are trampled to death by other horses in panic on the truck. She now lives with her boy Slash and they are very close and bonded and we wouldn’t have it any other way x
JACKSON AND LISA MARIE
Jackson and Lisa Marie were found at Eugene Auction in Oregon and were the first two horses saved by Skydog. They were very bonded and Jackson was trying so hard to protect his little mare in their cramped stall, even striking out at people who came near, he was labelled wild and dangerous.
Since coming to Skydog Sanctuary Jackson has become an amazing herd leader and protector of seven mares, all rescued from kill pens. He is a complete teddy bear and love bug when it comes to people and everyone who meets him falls in love with him and his beautiful lead mare from South Steens HMA
Sequoia was rescued by a wonderful family from a horrible situation where she was starved, neglected and abused. They asked us to take her as she had been badly injured and would never be able to be ridden, the vet recommended euthanasia but instead she gets to live out her life here
Sequoia is loving and people friendly so she is a great ambassador for our ranch. The capacity these horses have for forgiveness is incredible and after the worst abuse from people they are still eager to love and trust and make friendships - quite a lesson for us all to learn
Bear was found in a feedlot in Bastrop, Louisiana. Still a stallion at 8 years old, he came in with two mares who were most likely pregnant. BLM Mustang Rescue Network contacted us as they wanted to keep all three friends together. Bear was gelded and quarantined for two months and now all three friends live together here. They are inseparable.
Bear was a remarkably gentle stallion and was halter broke but his mares are a little more wild and don't like to be handled as much. Aerial just gave birth to her foal Whisper in the middle of winter and he came out with a full winter coat to keep him warm in the snow. Pammie or Goldie as we like to call her just gave birth to a gorgeous filly called Mariah. So we effectively rescued five horses, not three, on this save.
Read was spotted in a kill pen in Oklahoma and his photographs were horrifying. We bailed him and he was in quarantine for five weeks before heading up to Black Hills Wild Horse sanctuary in South Dakota for a little acclimation before heading here.
Read is 22 years old and his injury was from where somebody put a halter on him and never took it off, causing it to grow into his face - his nasal cavities are open to the air as a result but he does so well and runs around and seems in no pain or discomfort. He is one of our favorite saves.
Leigh was also found in an auction in Oregon. She came in with her friend of 10 years Denver but they were separated and the Kill Buyer bought Denver. Leigh has never wanted to have anything to do with people and seemed really depressed and listless until we tracked down her friend and reunited them. They have not been apart since.....
When we finally managed to get Leigh out of the kill pen and reunite her with Denver they remind us of a couple of old ladies, always together, sometimes bickering, then making up. But wonderfully at night they always watch over each other and take it in turns to lay down while the other guards them. It truly is a joy to see their close bond and love for each other.
Love was rescued from a kill pen in Waco Texas. The photographs show her standing in mud and poop looking lost and scared with cuts on her face and terrible looking feet. We sent her straight to Reata Equine Hospital to be treated for any respiratory diseases she might have caught in the pen as they very often come out with pneumonia or other illnesses from being around sick horses, and then she was brought to California.
Since being at the ranch she has blossomed and gained so much confidence and is just the sweetest girl. She was terribly head shy when she arrived and flinched when people raised their hand near her face but now all that fear has dissolved away. She is a long way from the description we had of her from the killpen where she was described as being unhandleable and dangerous. She was just plain terrified. And now she is safe.
We were alerted about a mustang going to ship to slaughter straight from a Kill Buyers pen and we stepped in. Apparently she had been used in a Mexican Rodeo and then thrown away. We bailed her an hour after we heard of her and she was in Malibu the next day. The only video we saw of her she was being ridden by a horse flipper and this mighty mare actually threw him off her back. So just for that she deserved to be rescued.
Little Girl was checked by vets when she got here and found to have a respiratory illness as well as a heart murmur but she is doing good as long as we keep her quiet and don't put her in too big a pasture with too many boisterous horses. She is the sweetest smallest mare here and loved by all.
We found Jones at Eugene Auction in Oregon, she is a reservation mustang. Sadly these mustangs are not even afforded the protection of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act so unfortunately many hundreds of them are sold straight to slaughter every year. They used to rip the foals from their mothers before they shipped and kill them but now many wonderful rescue groups rally to go and rescue foals and find them homes.
Jones was rescued once from an abusive owner but sadly when she was found not to trainable she was again dumped at auction where we picked her up. She will tolerate and suffer being handled and even ridden but you can tell she does not enjoy it so we choose to let her live out her life without much human contact and that is just the way she likes it. She will come for treats :)
Winter is a mare rescued from ISPMB who ended up starved, pregnant and with a foal at her side after a sanctuary failed. We took Winter and her foal Blizzard and named them that so we never forgot where they came from. Minus 40 degrees in blizzards and a snow storm with wind chill at night being even lower. None of the horses had shelter or wind breaks or even trees to stand behind. Many of the horses and foals froze to death.
Winter was hauled here in the dead of winter and in the middle of storms but she and her friend Sooty and their two foals who were 4 and 5 months when they arrived here survived and have flourished since being here. They are now living altogether with the other mares and foals and Winter has since had her second foal Wilder. The foals are both beautiful and we spend a lot of time with them to gentling them for easier handling.
ANSELM LITTLE BOY
Anselm Little Boy was rescued from a Kill Buyer in California. We were tipped off that he was there and we immediately offered to take him and get him back to good weight and health. He was coughing and his legs were covered in scars from horse tripping and his body was also very scarred from what looked like rope marks where he had been beaten.
He was named Anselm but after he was quarantined and brought to us we realized how tiny and delicate he was and he was nicknamed Little Boy. He really is a pushy, cheeky and food obsessed horse as he was obviously pretty emaciated when he was rescued but we forgive him all of that as he truly is one of the sweetest most affectionate mustangs we have ever met. He has gone on to bond deeply with the horse he came in with named Addie.
Denver was rescued from a kill pen in Washington. We tried to bid on her at auction but for some reason she was sold to the kill buyer right under our nose so we tracked her down to Sunnyside Kill Pen (the name is not a very apt description of a place that ships horses to slaughter daily) and went to get her. She was pretty wild and uncooperative and wouldn't load for two weeks of trying but eventually we brought her home.
The good news for Denver didn't end there, we were able to reunite her with her friend of 10 years named Leigh who we saved from auction and now they live happily together at Skydog. This mare started off wild and untouchable but weeks of love and kindness work wonders and now she lets us stroke her all over and takes carrots from our hands. Denver, you've come a long way baby xxxxxx
Luna was rounded up as a foal and then adopted out at the trap site with another foal who was Ireland. They both ended up dumped at Fallon Feedlot together but were separated as Luna was saved by a wonderful rescue in Reno and we saved Ireland.
The rescue agreed that the most wonderful outcome for both horses would be to be reunite them and let them spend the rest of their lives together as both are too reactive and traumatized to be trained at this point. They are now happily back together and get to call Skydog Ranch their forever home.
Hunter was found in a kill pen in Louisiana and she had on a halter made of bailing twine - the kind of cheap plastic string you put around hay bails which broke our hearts so we made the decision to save her. It seemed so at odds with her beauty and we bailed her immediately without even fundraising for her.
Our wonderful hauler Marlene Dodge was on her way here from New York and picking up Bear and his two mares in Texas so one more was easy. We bailed her and brought her here and she took our breath away. There was no way to tell from that Kill Pen photo that this horse was so beautiful. She is a supermodel mustang so we name her Hunter after our wonderful friend and supporter Rachel Hunter and she is one of Buddy’s favorite mares now.
Pamela came in with Bear and Aerial to the kill pen, probably already pregnant as she had been with Bear when he was a stud. We were asked to take them so that they could stay together and we happily said yes. Pamela is very friendly and halter broke if you can catch her ! She and Bear and Aerial have a 30 acre pasture to themselves and spend the day grazing and playing - a very long way away from the kill pen they ended up in.
Pamela is named after one of our most wonderful supporters and friends, Pamela Anderson. They are both Blonde, beautiful, fearless and wild. In March Pammie just gave birth to her foal Mariah who is a beautiful sorrel filly who looks just like her father Bear. We are so happy to have another baby at Skydog x
Aerial is Bear's lead mare and best friends with Pamela. She came to Skydog pregnant and she gave birth to her baby Whisper here at Skydog - Whisper is doing so well and thriving even though he was born in the middle of winter. She is very nervous around people and was absolutely traumatized by the experience of being in the kill pen. She is slowly settling down and coming around to being near people.
Aerial was originally from Wyoming, Divide Basin and she and her little foal Whisper can now live free and stay together. He is the sweetest little foal and just loves being tickled and having his butt scratched.
Lewis was found in Kaufman kill pen in Texas. She is a beautiful Grulla mare that looked so sad and lost in the photographs that we reached out to rescue her and get her to us. Lewis was turned out with Jimmy when his brother sadly passed away and they have been inseparable ever since.
Lewis is named after our wonderful friend and horse lover Leona Lewis and hopefully she will be able to meet her namesake next time she visits x
Swayze was found in the Colorado Feedlot. They told us he was a young mustang and that you couldn't see his brand in the photograph as it didn't show up on his white coat. We rescued him and then found out he was a 26 year old Spanish horse with Cancer and we didn't hold out too much hope. Incredibly he has transformed from the emaciated, sick and weak horse that arrived here to an amazing beauty today.
Like so many other horses form Colorado feedlot he came in with Strangles and we had to exercise very strict protocols for him and his mare Priscilla during which time every person that worked at Skydog permanently smelled of bleach. He now lives at Malibu with his mare Remi and is a beloved horse and sponsored by Beth Behrs who fell in love with him when she came to visit.
Sarge was found in the kill pen in Waco Texas and bailed by another rescue. He was really skinny and weak and they helped build him back up a little before sending him elsewhere to continue his recovery. Very very sadly those people also let him down and he deteriorated to the point that he had to be taken back and we were asked to take him. At first we were worried about the long haul but he put on enough weight to make it to Colorado safely and then was fed up even further and rested before continuing his journey home to Skydog.
Sarge is an Oregon mustang and we are so proud and happy to be able to bring him back to his original home and let him live out his life with us. We love you Sarge x
SOOTY (TOOTS) AND SHELDON
Toots and Sheldon were rescued from ISPMB - which is a horribly failed mustang sanctuary in South Dakota. The horses there were found starved and freezing to death when people reported the owner for hoarding and mis treating the horses in her care. The sanctuary was seized by the county and they allowed some wonderful organizations to help find adopters for these horses.
Sooty and Sheldon were not in good health when they arrived with another mare and foal. Both the babies were wormy as well as which all four horses were mangy, had lice and mites and a bad case of shipping fever. But these horses are fighters to have survived that place and a tough haul in difficult conditions in the middle of winter. They have thrived and transform every day before our eyes. These are some amazing horses and from the Sheldon herd so it is an honor to have them with us at Skydog.
Rhys was found on social media listed for sale for a couple of hundred dollars and we wanted to have him tell the story of the dangers of selling horses cheap on Craig's List or Social media as they are EXACTLY the horses that kill buyers are looking to buy and pick up cheap and sell for meat prices. Kill Buyers do not always look as they sound. These people go to extraordinary lengths often bringing children and wives along to pick up these cheap horses being sold privately. They very often say that the horse is going to a therapy program in Montana or Colorado and make up all sorts of lies to unsuspecting horse owners to reassure them that their horse will be in good hands and taken care of.
We have sadly read so many stories of people devastated to find out that their horse is now in a kill pen or worse still shipped to slaughter. We hope Rhys tells the story of all horses that ended up in bad hands and warn owners of the dangers of selling to strangers for cheap. Rhys is now living out his life at Skydog with his mare Blue. He has EPM so it is hard to keep his weight on but he is doing well and on another round of medication to treat him.
Butler is a chocolate palomino mustang we saved at Eugene auction. The only thing they listed about him was that he had been used as a packhorse and the several photos that came with him show him healthy and well taken care of so we don't understand why he ended up at auction with a kill buyer being the only other person bidding on him. Butler is a sweet and loving horse who is really enjoying his freedom and new friends on the ranch.
It is hard to believe that anybody knowingly sends a loyal and good horse to auction knowing the fate that most probably befalls them. We try as much as possible to catch mustangs at auction where they often sell for as little as two hundred dollars to kill buyers who then immediately list them on their sites between 400 to up to 1200 dollars to cash in on them or if they can't they just ship them straight to slaughter and sell them by the pound for their meat for people in Europe and Asia to eat. Luckily Butler never had to see the inside to a trailer to the kill pen or make that trip to Canada.
Adeline was saved at auction. She was a terrified and very scarred mare who definitely needed some feeding up. She was covered in cuts and scrapes and was most likely used as a tripping horse or was just plain abused. Adeline came in with some other horses with a well known horse flipper and one of the other horses she was with had a face covered with cigarette burns so God knows what awful abuse these beautiful horses had suffered before they were rescued.
Adeline was sent to quarantine and we agreed to take her and Anselm Little Boy. They are now living the big life in Oregon and share a large pen with the mini mules Bonnie and Clyde. She is handled daily and is losing her fear and learning to trust again. She is one gorgeous mustang.
Kennedy was rescued from a feedlot in Washington. They weren't sure he was a mustang so we had a vet visit there and check his brand and she confirmed that he was and told us he seemed around 18 years old and was guarded but friendly. We decided to rescue him and bailed him with the help of a private donor. Our ranch manager Jon drove the six hours up to the kill pen to haul him home and we all stayed up to welcome him here.
Kennedy was found to have strangles and influenza and was in quarantine for the longest time and longed to get out. He now runs with the boys herd on the North Forty and loves his freedom so much - he truly was born to be wild. He is a pretty high up member of the herd and is always the first to tell ever new addition that he is king. We adore him and are so proud and glad to give him this gift of being able to retire and spend the rest of his days wild.
We rescued Otis from a Kill Pen after he went through Eugene Auction - we really thought he would get bought at auction as he is a beautiful broke 18 year old ranch horse who just has the best manners and gorgeous gaits and has absolutely nothing going against him. But sadly it was a cold winter night and turnout was poor and the only person bidding was the kill buyer. We wanted to get him back quickly before he got sick so our trusty ranch manager Jon offered to go up there and we worked with another local rescue who wanted a mare who had also gone through auction - so together we got them both back.
He was a little skinny when he got here and very scared but now Otis has to be the sweetest, most patient, easy going, perfect horse here. This horse is living the life, hanging out with some good friends eating some good food and being loved on every day. He runs with the boys herd and is possibly one of the easiest trouble free well mannered horses we have.
Sometimes a horse gets noticed by us because of the incredible amount of times their post and photograph standing in a killpen gets posted. As it was with Dollar. He had just been sent to our message box over and over again. I was sure someone would rescue him as he was apparently broke to ride and was a handsome looking boy who seemed healthy. Eventually I got a message from someone and just couldn't say no. I rang the feedlot and was told he would ship that weekend for sure unless he was paid for an picked up. Jon set off to go get him and bring him home. Dollar just didn't deserve to be there and he did deserve to live out a long and happy life. We had to help him.
Dollar now runs in the boys herd on 1500 acres of our ranch in Oregon. He is best friends with Braveheart and Ripley and they are quite the sight running the hills during the snowy winters x
We first saw Daisy on a Facebook page where the lady who had her was very frustrated that Daisy was not responding to training and she was sending her back to the BLM. Something about her face, the look in her eye and that lead rope still attached to her halter that she had been dragging around for weeks broke our heart. With the help of another girl we adopted Daisy back out of the pens as the rest of her herd had shipped to long term holding without her. This was a horse that wanted to be wild and thank goodness we let her be that way. She has so much space, many friends and plenty of food. She is a big power house of a Utah mustang and we are honored and privileged to be her guardians.
Daisy before and after, she is such a joy to take care of and spend time around but never comes closer than two or three feet. She does love it when you throw her a treat x
TAYLOR AND Swift
One of the most important missions of our sanctuary is to promote adoptions of mustangs out of BLM holding pens. To show people how to go through that process and prepare them for their own mustang we decided to adopt this young mare and foal to film it for a video diary so that people can see exactly how the whole thing works from filling out the paper work to picking the horse up and bringing it home.
We found this photograph of a mare who had just given birth to her foal in a BLM corral in Burns Oregon and decided to adopt her to get her sickly baby safe and for her to highlight the process of adoptions and promote them. Swift is now an amazing looking young filly in her own right and lives out with Bear’s herd. She, like all the young horses born or adopted young at Skydog, is gentled early so that we can handle them for feet, loading and shots. It truly is the best of both worlds for these horses.
We were contacted by a rescue who had taken in Sundance after he was found running down Klamath Falls Highway, starved and neglected he was not easy to catch. They asked us to take him as at 17 years old he just couldn't bond or connect with anyone they tried him with and was happiest out on a piece of land being left alone. He is a magnificent mustang. Over 17 hands and with four knee high white socks he looks like a show horse and is so beautiful running around free and wild. He likes to come eat out of our hands but does so with the most stretched neck possible so he keeps as much space as possible between us so he can get away. Nobody is going to catch you again beautiful boy. Stay free.
Sundance is from the Callaghan herd in Nevada....
Jazzy is with us because his owner loved him very much. That is usually not the case with a horse that we take in but his owner contacted us about him. She had rescued him as a foal and pretty much raised him but at two years old he had become a handful and was busting down fences and getting into all sorts of trouble. His owner was getting on in years and didn't feel as though she could handle a young wild mustang but also was devastated at the thought of him getting into the wrong hands and ending up in the slaughter pipeline.
We took him - in a way to remind older people to make provisions for their beloved animals. So many people don't and it is a huge cause of horses ending up at auctions when their families sell them off not realizing the fate that befalls them. We rescued one horse whose owner had raised him since a foal and was now in a hospice and horrified to find out his much loved horse had been sold off by his children and landed in a kill pen. That horse will also live out her life at Skydog. As for Jazzy - he is probably the most adorable, friendly, most human loving mustang we have here. He literally tries to take the muck rake and help out when you are in his pasture. He would live in the house if he could. He now lives with the boys herd and is particularly friendly with Cash.
Lady Jade is another mustang whom we adopted formally from the BLM to promote adoptions and show people the process of taking in a wild horse. She was 9 months old and amazingly was friendly and handleable from the beginning. She is a south steens filly and her mother was turned back out on the range after having her baby in holding. We hope that Lady Jade will show the beauty of these wild horses. It is our dream that one day every show barn, polo pony barn, hunter jumper barn, arabian barn - that people will see the amazing knowledge to be acquired from adopting a wild mustang and gentling one to learn more about horses in every way. The bond created is so beautiful. If you have the ability to adopt one or rescue one you will never ever regret doing so.
Lady Jade is a South Steens mustang and is now halter trained having had umbilical hernia surgery at Bend Equine and is shortly heading to her new life in California to be an ambassador for mustang adoptions x
Jalapeno was dumped at auction in California and we had no intention of taking another mustang. But we heard that he wasn't titled and wasn't going to be able to run through auction as it is illegal to sell an untitled mustang. Luckily we were in contact with the BLM and they let us take possession of him while we sorted out why he didn't have title. Usually they are immediately returned to the BLM but we were allowed to decide whether to keep him and have titled assigned to us or to return him to Ridgecrest BLM. He was super nervous and unsettled being in a new environment and is an older mustang so we decided to keep him.
Jalapeno has already won our hearts with his escape antics as he didn't realize that he had won the mustang lottery by landing with us in Malibu but he has now settled down into the best citizen and happy resident we have ever had. He is a charmer that's for sure and we have already taken him for a little test ride only to find out he has some lameness issues on his front legs which is probably why he was dumped. We don’t mind at all and he is now happy living out with the boys x
We first set eyes on Dani California in a video live from an auction in California. She was in an overcrowded trailer shaking uncontrollably with fear and had put her body horizontal across the trailer to keep her friends safe inside. Somehow from seeing a glimpse of that quaking matted mane I had a feeling that was a mustang and that they were coming to Skydog. When I heard she was a branded mustang I didn't hesitate I just wrote on the feed "We will take her". Something in my gut told me she was special and boy is she special. We realised when she got home to us that she was blind in one eye and going blind in the other. She was in quarantine for a month and we weren't sure how she would do when she got out but she has been incredible.
She is sensitive, curious, loving and the most incredible color. Some call her claret or burgundy or just plain purple but she is a truly unique color and is so alert to everyone and everything around her. She nickers more than any of the horses here, usually when she hears a voice or hears the hay shed open. She has the sweetest whinny that comes through her soft velvet nose and never fails to move me. I am so so happy I was watching the feed that day and that we rescued her as she brings the most amount of joy to everyone she meets. She is from Twin Peaks California so when somebody suggested Dani California after a Red Hot Chili Pepper song it was meant to be. She is a runner, a rebel and a stunner as it says in the song. And we love her for it.
All we could see of Chesney was a scared eye peering out of a horse trailer. We didn't know his age or his temperament or really his color or height but we started fundraising for him. He turned out to be the most incredibly well mannered gentleman of a horse I have ever had the pleasure to meet. He is 22 and beautiful. When we got him home we had the vet give him his shots and we wormed him and while she was there the vet looked at his feet. They were possibly the worst feet we have ever seen and she said that he must have been standing in piss and poop for months on end in a small space. His frogs peeled back to reveal huge holes and he had white line disease and the worst thrush. The smell from his feet was really terrible.
But even with the discomfort he must have been in he stood and let everybody work on his feet and never once complained or grumbled. He is a true angel and most volunteers favorite at Skydog Malibu x
Little Marvyn is only three years old. We just cannot figure out why he was dumped early in the morning at a meat auction in California. He is handsome and sweet and somebody has obviously put a lot of time into him to train him and work with this boy. He is just a lover, an easy keeper and moves our beautifully and does everything asked of him as he is eager to please. He lives at Skydog Malibu in a paddock with Chesney and they love running the hills together. Of all the horses we have he deserves a forever home - when his quarantine is finished we shall look into finding him his person and if not he can stay with us and be loved on forever by our volunteers and visitors.
Usually these horses have cheap rope halters on but Marvyn arrived in a nice looking turquoise halter so it makes us feel he was loved at one time and taken good care of.
Goliath is a 26 year old band stallion who lived his whole life on the wild range in Wyoming. We had followed him in the wild for years and were devastated when he was rounded up in a BLM gather in October 2017. We asked for him to be re-released but our request was denied and we were then shocked when he appeared on an internet adoption event in January. We decided that he should not be domesticated or spend the rest of this life in a tiny space - he was just too magnificent and special and BIG a mustang. We agreed to the hundreds of requests we received to give him sanctuary. We started a fundraiser and so many people stood up to donate for him and to bring him back to lands similar to the ones he roamed when free.
While we waited for the internet adoption a wonderful woman in Colorado told us she had Goliath's lead mare from the wild called Red Lady and she wanted her to be reunited with her Goliath. The BLM granted us a reassignment and she travelled to us. We won the internet adoption for Goliath and the incredible moment they reunited was captured in a small movie we made which had been seen by millions of people now thanks to The Dodo and our short film. Goliath and Red Lady had their last foal together Bodhi in March 2018 and he is now living happily wild and free with his parents at Skydog Oregon.
We were sent a video from a Facebook follower showing Blue being ridden around a parking lot very roughly - running on concrete and all we could see is how hard she was trying to do the right thing as her mouth was yanked on and she was spurred on. All the board members were called and we all decided unanimously to save her. She is a gorgeous mare with the most amazing blue eyes and so willing and eager to please. She is the calmest horse who never reacts to being bossed about by other horses. She has been sponsored by our head of volunteer program Kim Hightower who hopes one day to start her own sanctuary with Blue as her star save. They are two of our favorite creatures.
Blue in her Charro saddle in the parking lot outside auction. She actually is an amazing bomb proof horse and we hope to adopt her out when we find her forever home. One of our amazing volunteers already offered to adopt her and is going through the process of setting up her own Sanctuary so we very much hope a big future awaits this remarkable mare. Blue is at Skydog Malibu with Rhys x
Gunner is the patriarch of a family of Kiger mustangs who we were asked to rescue from a now defunct horse rescue in Bend Oregon. Sadly the rescue was being closed down due to financial irregularities and over 70 horses needed new homes as soon as possible. There were a number of mustangs there and we chose to rescue four who were family and had been together for over twenty years as such. Gunner is 26 years old and such a wise and beautiful soul. He had been living with his family in less than an acre of mud and dirt and for him to walk on grass again in a natural environment was truly a dream come true for us to witness.
Gunner has an old halter injury on his face from where a halter grew into his nose when he was young but it just makes him look more distinguished and regal. He goes everywhere like a mirror with his son Optimus Prime.
OP is the son of Gunner and 22 years old. He is a gorgeous dun and has a beautiful mane that covers his eyes. He is so closely bonded to his father it is impossible to see them apart. They walk very closely to each other at all times. The morning we went to pick up the four mustangs from Equine Outreach he was not keen to jump into the trailer but I whispered in his ear that he was going to a very good place and he seemed convinced as he soon jumped in for his freedom ride.
OP was born in captivity so really has never known anything other than small dirt pens but now he roams the land of Skydog Oregon with his family and is enjoying his newfound freedom. He is very friendly and gentle. This family is an example of the huge spate of breeders that grew up at one time for the Kiger breed. The Kigers are very distinctive as they have the dun factor and are mainly duns or grullas. They usually have a dorsal stripe down their back, striping on their legs and a two colored mane. At one point the kiger herd had a 100 percent adoption rate from the BLM as they just became very desirable and sought after and many unscrupulous breeders bought themselves a stud and a couple of mares and bred hundreds of these horses, even more so after the disney movie Spirit Stallion of Cimarron. People were claiming they had horses related to the real life Spirit and one breeder we know of said he produced over 700 horses and was making so much money off the sudden craze to own a Kiger. We see over breeding as one of the biggest scourges for the amount of unwanted horses we are currently facing and hope eventually legislation is introduced to limit the amount of new horses being bred for profit.
Honey Palouse is a beautiful 28 year old appaloosa mustang we rescued starved and emaciated from a kill pen in Louisiana. We saw a video of her with a man standing on her back and jumping on her to show she was gentle. The sight and sound of that man led us to rescue her and bring her home to Skydog Malibu. They had her listed at ten years old but we could see from her brand that she was actually 28 and knew we had to get her out of there. She was quarantined in Texas and then travelled to us in Malibu where she became everyone's favorite.
From kill pen to sanctuary, love, kindness, enough hay in her belly and respect and dignity in her old age. That is what she enjoys at Skydog. No horse deserves to end up thrown away in their senior years and we are going to give her the greatest retirement any horse could ask for with all her new friends - equine and human to dote on her forever x
Sweet Pea was found at an auction in California. She was shaking with fear, starved, with her tail and legs caked in diarrhea. We paid her auction price and went and got her. When she arrived she sand coliced twice and when we felt her poop it was black and thick with sand. She had obviously been eating sand and dirt to survive and for days she pulled sticks and twigs into her stall from around her and ate the bark as she must have become used to doing. She is a sweet three year old mustang and is halter broken and titled so we have no idea why anyone would dump her at auction and dispose of her in that way.
Sweet Pea at the auction and afterwards at Skydog Malibu. She now lives at Skydog Oregon with her original friends of Honey Palouse and Sheldon and we have been able to halter train her and she stands well for her feet and shots now and is easy to handle. We had a trainer put a few test rides on her and it was found out that her back legs have some issues when she is under saddle so she is living the good life in a big space now.
We made a commitment to our followers and donors to try and do everything we could to find any other members of Goliath’s family and bring them home to him if they were still in BLM holding or in need. We went to a private facility to see if his grey mare was there to no avail. While we were there we spotted a cremelo mare with her new born baby and we posted her photograph. So many people asked us to take her that we tried to adopt them both. Sadly while they were still in the holding facility her baby died but still people asked us to take her. To bring her to Skydog to let her heal and give her her freedom back. So one year after she was rounded up from the wild in Wyoming, we brought her from Idaho to Skydog Oregon. Magnolia is a truly terrific mare. She is sweet and gentle and approachable. We all love her.
If you follow us you will also know that we were asked to take in four orphan foals from the BLM Burns after the Warm Springs roundup. One day we just decided to put them all in with Magnolia and see if she took to them. Well we all know they found love and are all living as a family now and every day is a joy to see them all together xxx
Dream is without doubt the most extreme starvation case that Skydog took in. It took us literally moments to say yes after I messaged her photos to our Board of Directors. We all said let’s get her as soon as possible. Let’s start her new life. She came to us shaky, so thin and almost dead, physically and mentally. She took a while to come back to life but slowly and surely the light went back on in her eyes and she started to show her incredible personality. As she got stronger she developed quite the strong opinion about all things and would let us know very clearly what she liked and didn’t like and we loved every minute of it. She is a 21 year old mare from Meadow Mountain Valley HMA and we have no idea what happened to her in the 20 years before we met her but we are so proud and happy to have allowed her to live the rest of her life with a full belly, friends and love in her life.
Here is Dream the day after she arrived with us and recently at our Malibu location where she shares her space with her beloved donkeys VInnie and Red. She is a bossy boss mare and chases the other horses around for fun but in all the time we have had her she has never shown one bit of resentment or anger for the way she was previously treated. So Dream, you just keep doing YOU xxxx
Barney is our biggest mustang in every way. He was rounded up in Twin Peaks California and was adopted by a fancy dressage barn in Southern California where he gave lessons and rides to beginners and taught many people the basics of dressage and hunter jumper basics too. This was one all round solid and steady boy who people trusted with their kids and felt safe on his back. After 18 years of dedicated service to this barn he lived at he went lame and had to be taken out of being ridden. Sadly now that he wasn’t making money for the barn they decided to euthanize him as he was costing money to keep.
Thankfully some ladies at this barn who had loved Barney for years stepped up to try and find him a home and retirement to stop him being put to sleep. We went to visit Barney at his barn and we knew this wasn’t the right ending for this horse. He had become resentful and angry at being kept in a stall and was dangerous to handle now. He would have hurt people so we gave him the one thing he needed to survive and live on. Space. Barney runs with the boys herd and rules the roost - now his kicks have to be watched for especially at feeding time but the more he lives the good life the more content and happy he gets. Big old Barney is one enormous teddy bear in the winter and we adore seeing him running the hills with his friends. He may be the fanciest mustang we have but to us he is just another wild boy x
During the time we were fundraising for Louisa every other person commented to please save her friend too and it was only through that we saved Star. She was standing so close to Louisa and when we contacted the lot they told us they were very bonded mares who came in together. We also at that point also realized she was very pregnant. So from one lonely sad skinny horse on Christmas eve three lives were saved. Star is such a Malibu Barbie horse she fits right in by the Ocean.
What a trip - from knee deep mud standing dumped in a killpen to living the life on a ranch in Malibu. She has quite taken to the life and seems very happily accustomed to the finer things and is loved on by every volunteer who visits. We cannot wait to meet her baby in the next couple of months.
Remington is a 21 year old mustang from Paisley Desert HMA Oregon. She was rescued from a killpen in Oregon. When the lady who saved her contacted the man who originally adopted her he was devastated to hear that she had ended up so close to shipping to slaughter. So many people don’t understand that when they take a family horses to auction that the chances of them ending up in the slaughter pipeline are incredibly high. Killbuyers frequent these livestock auctions to pick up cheap horses to then sell them for their meat. Remi was one of the lucky ones and after being saved and taken care of for many years by her savior she was approved to come to Skydog and retire in peace with a herd of her own. She lives with us now at Skydog Malibu and is loved by many people including Skydog supporter Beth Behrs who visited us recently. What a lucky girl Remi is xxx
Champ is a stunning Salt Wells Creek horse who was rounded up at the same time as Goliath. He and five members of his family were driven by helicopters into a trap and we sadly have the photographs of every moment of that last day of freedom for this family. When Goliath was in the BLM corrals for months before he was put up for adoption, he was inseparable from Goliath and Maestro. In every photograph of Goliath you could visibly see one or the other close to him - keeping together for comfort. We focused on Goliath and were happy to hear than another rescue was taking Champ and Maestro to keep them together.
A few months later that rescue asked us to take them both to give them more space and freedom as they were huge horses and they felt that Skydog would be the right place to give them that. We were happy to say yes and in the spirit of the re-wilding that they support and advocate for we took these two incredible older geldings and both now have mares to keep them warm in their old age. Sadly, although we looked in all the pens they might be, we were never able to find Champ’s beautiful family. We hope that we have done a good job in giving him back freedom and wildness and a new family.
Next to Goliath, Maestro was the king of Salt Wells Creek in Wyoming and there is plenty of video of him and Goliath sparring for mares, competing for territory and superiority. They were both photographed hugely by some incredible wild horse photographers who travelled to Wyoming to see these two might horses for themselves. Maestro was right beside Goliath when he was rounded up and they were processed and gelded and branded together in the same corrals.
At the internet adoption Maestro was bid on by the CANA Foundation and they left for Kansas. A few months later they realized that these two big wild horses needed space and land and they asked us to take them to re-wild them. We were honored to for the debt we owed for the comfort and safety they had given Goliath as he stood in holding pens with them. Champ and Maestro came to Skydog three months after Goliath and I think it’s a great blessing for him to still be able to see his old sparring stallions in the distance of where he lives. Some horses were just born to be wild and I can think of no greater example than this boy.
Kimmy was a mustang mare rescued from a livestock auction and then taken in by a mustang trainer in California to be adopted out. She was worked with for months before the trainer contacted us and asked us to take her. Kimmy is a shy, wild and nervous horse who prefers not to be close to humans. This is the kind of mustang that needs sanctuary more than others. We take a lot of trainer relinquishments who are deemed un-adoptable and really need to just be given back their space and freedom.
We haven’t touched Kimmy since she arrived with us but have watched as she has blossomed into the beautiful mare you see above. Humans tried to tame her but she just kept saying louder and louder that she didn’t want to be gentled and demanded to stay wild. And we are glad to have given her that precious gift.
Montana is a stunning Beatty’s Butte mustang who was adopted by an amazing trainer to be an ambassador for mustangs in parades and shows. The lady spend years trying to gentle Montana but he wasn’t having any of it. Every bit of progress made one day was gone the next. He just kept reverting back to a wild horse and none of the training stuck. Eventually after seven years of getting nowhere she reached out to us and told us this was just a horse who wanted to stay wild.
When Montana arrived with us we released him straight out into a huge pasture with some other boys. He leaped out of the trailer and took off running. It was so beautiful to watch this horse reclaim what he had been robbed of. He galloped for miles into the distance before circling back and giving us this amazing look you see above. He stood and stared and actually he brought tears to my eyes and others as we saw in him such gratitude it took our breaths away. This is a wild horse. This is Montana. Wild and free forever.
Vegas is a 26 year old Mustang mare from the Kiger herd in Oregon. Vegas was a rescue transfer from a local rescue in Bend Oregon which was forced to relocate many of it’s horses and they asked us to take a family of Kigers who had been together for years. Vegas was the only one not related to Gunner the patriarch but she was rescued and had spent years living alongside them. She is a senior horse and we very much wanted to keep this bonded family together.
She came to us on Giving Tuesday 2017 and has lived happily here ever since enjoying her retirement alongside her old friends.
ROSA AND STORM
Rosa and Storm are a pair and bonded so their story needs to be told together. The day we evacuated from the Woolsey fire was traumatic and terrifying for everyone of us. We had very little warning that the fire had crossed the 101 freeway and was now raging towards our Malibu ranch with 50 mph winds driving it. We were successful in evacuating all of our animals to our Mariposa ranch with three trailers and a crew of staff and volunteers.
No sooner had we settled then we got an email from a gentleman who told us the very sad story that he and his family had evacuated too but were not been able to take their two wild mustangs, and now their property had burned but the horses were left on the hillside. They were unable to get into the area to feed them or check on them. They asked us to take them as they had no way to look after them without a home there.
Gypsy was a mare who apparently we were always meant to take. Before there even was a Skydog Sanctuary Clare used to donate to save mustangs to go to other rescues. Gypsy was a horse in a killpen in Washington who she donated for. One of many such horses privately bailed that we had no idea where they ended up but always prayed for. When a local rescue Equine Outreach had to find homes for many of their horses we said yes to a family of Kiger Mustangs who were seniors and needed to stay together. Somebody asked us to also take Gypsy and keep her for a month or so until they were able to take her. Well her adoption fell through and then we realized that Gypsy was the killpen horse Clare had bailed years before.
Somehow she had ended up back in a rescue as she is quite the handful !!! She is fiery and hot and caused a fuss with other mares so when Maestro arrived we knew he was enough horse to keep her happy. They have been together ever since and every morning this mare goes through quite the performance of bucking and kicking before her hay gets dropped finally. She is our Gypsy Rose. Then and Now. Forever x
Priscilla is a happy miracle. This pretty mare was in a feedlot in Colorado along with Swayze they were both listed as mustangs. It was winter and the lot told us that their white necks prevented their brands from showing but they were for sure BLM mustangs. We said yes to taking them in. Priscilla wasn’t as skinny as Swayze not as sick. She travelled well to us but then was found to have strangles when she arrived. Both horses went through quarantine together and became as close as two horses can be. As they regained their health Priscilla also got bigger and bigger and we realized she was pregnant. What a happy day when we realized we had rescued not two but three horses from shipping to slaughter.
Swayze loved her but sadly when the foal was born, named Dalton, he didn’t like him and it wasn’t safe for them to be together as a family. As well as which Priscilla would be aggressive towards Swayze when he came near them. We had to separate them and Priscilla started to raise Dalton as a single mother. One day we decided to give it a try so that Dalton would have friends and we added them to Bear’s herd where the babies could play and the mothers could protect the young ones from predators. They thrived. Dalton is still with that herd but Priscilla fell in love with Jackson over the fence and we let her go with him and she now runs with Jackson in Buddy’s herd. She is a gorgeous mare and Dalton is one happy boy.
GRACE AND SUNSHINE
We got a call from the BLM asking us whether we could take in an orphan foal from a recent roundup who had been found on the range without a mother. We drove up to pick the foal up and came home with four orphaned foals and one mare foal pair in Grace and Sunshine. This mare was gathered from the range skinny and weak and her baby was lethargic and unable to nurse from her mother. Seeing them in the pens made us so sad and miraculously Grace had been rounded up as a two year old and re-released so we knew she was 24 and didn’t stand much chance of being adopted at that age being as wild as she was.
Little Sunshine also had an umbilical hernia which needed surgery so we had thirty days to gentle her and get her ready to travel to Bend Equine for her operation. She was such a good girl and went through the surgery with flying colors and now mama and baby have been turned out with Goliath and family to make a bigger herd and family. They are doing incredibly well and Bodhi finally has a playmate his own age and think he has fallen madly in love with this little filly. What a happy story for them all x
Casey came from a killpen in Kansas. The girl there reached out to us and told us we had to pay him cash and have her picked up by the next morning. Through the most amazing women who I had never met we pulled off the whole thing. We didn’t even know what color Casey was but were amazed to meet this beautiful Grulla mare. She hadn’t been handled so her feet were in the worst shape. We had to work pretty hard to get her to the stage where she can have them done the regular way as she is very traumatized by the hydraulic chute used to do wild horses feet.
Janelle has won her trust and she spends most of her time running wild but is brought in with her friend Springsteen to get her feet trimmed and for shots and then turned back out to be wild. The best of both worlds for this stunning mare - long may she stay wild and keep her independence forever x
Kat was another owner relinquishment. She is an eight year old mare from Murderer’s Creek Oregon. She was adopted out and the new owner spent over 10,000 dollars trying to train her with various different people. None of it would stick and she stayed wild and nobody got anywhere. The owner was out of funds and ideas and she asked that we take her. We try during any year to take mustangs from all different situations but obviously people asking us to take a trouble horse or dangerous horse they adopted is top of our list in terms of being asked to help.
Kat now lives with Champ and two other mares to make up a beautiful herd. Champ adores her and she is curious but spirited and has no interest in humans whatsoever. She may be a plain brown horses to most people but to us she is a dream x
Rojo was a mustang who went through the prison program in Carson city. His owner adopted him and rode him for a while but sadly then contracted Lyme disease and couldn’t ride as she recovered. Rojo was left to be a horse and reverted quickly back to being a very wild one. By the time his adopter was well enough Rojo had very strong opinions about being ridden or handled again. This so often happens with adopters for many different reasons. Often with prison trained horses or mustang makeovers these horses get three months of intensive training and are shown by their handlers. Sadly if the adopter doesn’t have enough knowledge or experience to be consistent from the day they get them it is possible that they can revert to being more wild, or test their owner. Luckily for Rojo he came to Skydog and now gets his wish which is to live wild and free forever.
Rojo runs with Buddy’s herd and is very low key and low maintenance. He is a handsome boy who gets on with everyone in the herd.
These are just a few of the Mustangs we have brought to the ranch, there are so many more that need a safe environment to live in.
Check back soon and meet other rescued horses and please donate to help us save more mustangs. Over 150,000 American horses are shipped to Mexico and Canada every year and killed in the most inhumane and brutal painful way imaginable - stop the slaughter by lobbying your congressmen to pass The SAFE ACT......