Mingo and Nelson find their forever home at Lompoc haven
When someone takes away their life and everything they know — which is what happens to wild horses caught in a roundup — they need a friend.
In this case, a young colt, Nelson, found several — an older mustang called Mingo and the crew at Return to Freedom Wild Horse Rescue Service on Jalama Road in Lompoc.
The people there do whatever they can to help horses and burros traumatically wrenched from their lives, home range and families.
“Mingo and Nelson were captured and taken from their range in the Pancake Herd Management Area in January,” said Neda M. DeMayo, RTF founder and president. “Mingo’s estimated year of birth was 2007. Nelson was born in 2020, making him barely two years old when he ran for his life, leaving everything behind when he was trapped and left with hundreds of other nameless and haunted faces in government corrals.
“Once at the corrals, the young colt gravitated to the familiar stallion, and once attached, never left Mingo’s side,” Ms. DeMayo said.
She recalled the day RTF received the following “heartfelt plea” from a caring woman to help Mingo:
“A 15-year-old mustang was recently rounded up in Pancake, NV. This is the same place a colt was stampeded by the helicopters until his leg snapped. This mustang is one of thousands who has lost family, home and freedom. At his age, his chances at a successful adoption are slim. In two to six weeks, he is slated for long-term holding, where his safety could change in a moment with the stroke of a pen.
“He has not adjusted well to his short time in captivity at Palomino Valley. He stands looking at his prison bars, alone and shut down. I represent a group of advocates who would like something better for him. Yes, there are thousands like him, but he has spoken to our hearts.
“We feel he is meant to be an ambassador for helicopter-rounded mustangs, the colt that died and all mustangs because of his beauty and presence. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to assure him of a rewilded-like setting with you. His tag no. is 4855.”
Ms. DeMayo said that once she heard about Nelson and how Mingo was protective of him and how very attached they were in the pens, “we couldn’t separate these two — no way — and we decided to bring them both to the sanctuary together. We then learned from a photographer who witnessed the roundup that they may even be father and son!
“Now they are safe and have a lifetime home at RTF. We have given back some of what they lost, and their days together are peaceful and secure.”
Keeping horse families and friends together has been a recurring theme at RTF for the past 24 years. The organization is dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity and habitat of America’s wild horses and burros through sanctuary, education, advocacy and conservation while enriching the human spirit through direct experience with the natural world.
“Human bonds with friends and family are what make life worth living, and horses are no different. These sentient social mammals, like us, nurture and educate their young. They fight valiantly to protect their bands and herds, but sadly they are no match for humans in helicopters and traps,” said Ms. DeMayo, a recognized authority on wild horse behavior.
“As well as caring for more than 450 wild horses and burros at our headquarters and at several satellite locations, we work every day, along with our Washington, D.C. lobbyist, on the national stage to ensure our wild friends a place on the Western landscape into the future.”
However, it is not easy to care for and feed all those horses.
“These are hard times for everyone, but we really need help. The cost of hay has exploded — it’s nearly twice as expensive as it was this time last year!” Ms. DeMayo said. “Drought, fires and gas costs are driving the prices higher still. Horses have to eat, and come what may, we have given them a solemn promise of a safe and stable home, and we cannot fail them. And for the past 25 years, through all the many challenges, we have kept that promise.
“As long as caring people make it possible, RTF will be providing a good life for the displaced horses and burros at our sanctuary and stand on the front lines of the battle to keep the wild and free where they belong, out there on the range.”