Healthy wild horses at Return to Freedom's American Wild Horse Sanctuary. Photo by Josephine Blossfeld.

Healthy wild horses at Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary. Photo by Josephine Blossfeld.


Return to Freedom and three other prominent members of the wild horse and burro sanctuary community have launched a new organization to help address an immediate emergency and bolster sanctuaries over the long term.

The new Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance is a coalition founded by RTF, Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, and Habitat for Horses.

Helping horses, right now

The Alliance’s first mission: rally supporters to provide quality feed for wild horses at the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB). On Sept. 29, an employee of that South Dakota sanctuary published documentation of horse neglect there. Local law enforcement is investigating the allegations.

In the meantime, the remaining 650 horses at the sanctuary badly need quality feed and hay.

Alliance members have paid for two shipments of hay, but those shipments will only provide enough feed for two days. About $55,000 is needed to feed the ISPMB sanctuary’s horses for a month. Once a veterinarian assesses the horses, additional supplements and vet care needs can also be addressed.

If you would like to give a donation, please click here. Please note: 100 percent of donated funds will go toward feed and have for the horses in need at ISPMB’s sanctuary.

Lifting sanctuaries, long-term

The new Alliance has been formed to provide support to wild horse and burro sanctuaries in times of need and strengthen them for the future.

Funds donated to the Alliance will go toward providing to where they are desperately needed: to provide emergency feed, create safe emergency handling equipment for wild horses, transport, or emergency veterinary care, all donations to the Alliance go directly to those life-saving needs.

The Alliance will also use its more than 60 years of combined wild horse experience to provide help with management concerns, suggestions addressing fundraising, marketing, volunteer programs, and a host of other issues that arise on a daily basis when operating a sanctuary for wild horses.

A lifetime commitment

Emergencies like the one at ISPMB draw storms of attention on social media. When horses are rescued, however, whether from a feedlot, failed adoption, abuse, or relocation from a roundup, the work of sanctuaries in just starting. Caring for horses and burros can be a commitment of more than 30 years.

Sanctuaries are a vital component to providing for the feed and care of rescued animals. They also serve the local and national community with experiential education through tours, programs and events.

While the Alliance will work to assist sanctuaries in times of crisis and by helping strengthen them for the future, RTF and the other Alliance members must continue to raise money for their own operational needs.

For RTF, that means feeding, watering and caring for its American Wild Horse Sanctuary’s 379 wild horses and burros.

There are a number of ways that you can help Return to Freedom keep its promise of providing the best quality care:

  • Join RTF’s crowdfunding campaign to build a new hay cover to replace the sanctuary’s 50-year-old barn in time for winter. Placed in a fire safe zone, the sturdy metal cover will provide safer loading in slick conditions, healthier hay for horses and burros by reducing the risk of mold and enable RTF to buy hay when prices are low, stretching valued donor dollars. For more information, please click here.
  • Help provide a steady source of funding for the sanctuary by becoming a monthly donor. You can also sponsor a horse, give to the veterinary fund for senior and special needs horses, donate a hay bale or contribute an item from the sanctuary’s wish list, and more. For information, please click here.