Horse News

Icon of Freedom—Wild Black Stallion Escapes BLM Capture

from our good friends at The Cloud Foundation

"Freedom" after he jumped the pen, caught in barbed wire then dashed to freedom - Craig Downer

Winnemucca, NV (January 6, 2010)—Today the Cloud Foundation honors the Calico wild stallion, named “Freedom” —an inspiration to mustang roundup protestors worldwide. On January 2nd Freedom escaped Bureau of Land Management (BLM capture) by fighting his way out of the roundup corrals, jumping a six-foot fence, and smashing through a barbed wire fence to run fee again in the wild. A storm of protests is growing following on the heels of Las Vegas, San Francisco, Chicago and Ketchum Idaho last week with more planned in Los Angeles and Lexington today, Denver and Albany, NY on Thursday, Boston on Friday and Las Vegas on Sunday. Protests in New York City, London, Santa Barbara, Toronto and Rome are being planned.

Still photos and the corresponding report from Elyse Gardner, humane observer, with ecologist Craig Downer document Freedom’s capture as well as his escape and are available on line. Link here.

“This was an awe-inspiring, do-or-die effort demonstrating the wild horse’s loathing of captivity and his primal need for freedom,” said Craig Downer, Nevada Wildlife Ecologist.

“This wild stallion’s defiance calls us to back him up by telling Congress we refuse to have such actions done in our names,” says Terri Farley, celebrated children’s author of the Phantom Stallion series. “Congress must attach strings to BLM’s budget so that the Bureau is forced to cowboy up and admit our remaining mustangs are not responsible for the damage to the range.”

The Cloud Foundation with 190 other organizations, celebrities and scientists joined by thousands of members of the public from coast-to-coast have called on the President to stop this high-jacking of our American mustangs by a rogue government agency.

“Freedom’s escape has rallied horse advocates across the globe,” says Lise Stampfli Torme, a San Francisco Bay Area Mustang backer adding, “His example is a lesson in values. Just as Freedom has boldly fought for liberty, we will continue to fight the BLM’s outrageous and inhumane roundups as well as their broken range management system that favors ranchers and other commercial interests, placing them above the law and the will of the American people. This must stop. The People’s horses must remain wild and free.”

Despite their federally protected status on legally designated ranges, and an Act of Congress that states the lands on which they roam should be managed “principally” for their use, the Bureau of Land Management is continuing the roundup in Calico. The agency expects to remove more than 2,500 wild horses from Nevada’s last wild horse stronghold—the Calico Mountains.

Wild horse advocates assert that BLM is rushing to roundup 12,000 wild horses and burros based on faulty census figures and what may be a deal made with the builders of a massive natural gas pipeline project—the Ruby Pipeline.  Even BLM personnel have said that the Calico wild horses are not impacting the range as expected, despite their numbers exceeding what they (BLM) term “appropriate management levels.“ Cloud Foundation and other mustang and burro advocates dispute the BLM horse levels citing an internal system that is deeply flawed, arbitrary and indiscriminately applied without benefit of proper environmental review. (Full report and link to testimony online here).

“The BLM is spending more than $30 million dollars to quickly eradicate an irreplaceable piece of American living history. I ask myself, what’s the rush? Is it only pressure from ranchers? Does the BLM fear the ROAM Act will pass? Is it to clear the land for the Ruby Pipeline project, or is it something else?” asks Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director, The Cloud Foundation.

President Obama continues to stonewall on the issue, with only a “no comment” from his spokesperson following months of requests from the American public for his intervention.

Links of interest:

Freedom’s Escape & Roundup Report:

Video Overview of Calico horses and current roundup

Video Footage of Calico Roundup

12.28.09 USA Today: “Activists Decry Wild-Horse Roundups”

Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit.

America’s Disappearing Wild Horses

Frequently Asked Questions on Wild Horses


Ruby Pipeline Information


Stampede to Oblivion: An Investigate Report from Las Vegas Now  (

Craig Downer, wildlife ecologist: interview Nevada roundup (

Crunching Calico- An American Herds Report


Updated 2009-2010 Roundup Schedule

Unified Moratorium letter and signatories


Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971


Photos, video and interviews available from:

The Cloud Foundation

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15 replies »

  1. And some call these animals stupid and nothing worthy of any respect, save a steak.

    Still wondering why BLM has ANY barbed wire around any horse operation….unless of course they have the bovine mindset. BTW, it is common land-grant college and cooperative extension management policy to NOT use barbed wire near or to contain equines…guess BLM and Cattoor haven’t read the literature. Which begs the question…why are they in charge????…because they have a helicopter?


    • Well, much of the world stood by while Nazi’s and Japanese rounded up humans for several years. Where does one think animals fall in to the scheme of what is important regarding human behavior and when should one get passionately involved? Not equating equines to humans; only the preceeding behavior without or lacking confrontation of unethical behavior is frequently a necessary milestone to proceeding further on the unethical milestones train.


      • D. Masters, Good and chilling point you make. And I know you all know this already, I just need to cement this for myself:

        Most to many (don’t know stats)human abusers ie serial killers and worse, started thier blood and power lust with, first small animals, many then went directly to humans, but many also went into jobs or just for fun larger animals. This is all documented, my knowledge not being first hand, started with the movie “In Cold Blood”, then a few studies and research since then. I didn’t study much further – that was enough for me.

        Animal “ridence” (and the Nazi movement starting some 15 – 20 years before WWII) has historically started with school age children, “Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf” and many others to put the wolf, or whatever animal in bad repute.

        “Nuisance” or “pest”, or describing a human or group of humans in thes same animal terms (opps, I think I just did that with one of our pro slaughter commenters – but mine was clearly a sarcasm), is a poplular type of manipulation and propaganda, and the Nazis used this quit well against the many people they mass murderd and/or tortured

        Just the little I have learned, I make no claim to expertise in this matter.


  2. Thanks Ginger and Makendra. This was an amazing escape and has placed these wild horses into the minds of thousands more people who have the opportunity now to add their voices and spirits to the campaign to keep the wild ones free and free the captured. Craig, Laura and Willis, any of the Nevada advocates, thank you and hang in there, we are with you… Mar


  3. I just picked up the January edition of my Equus Magazine, and low and behold there is an article in it titled, “Change of scenery for America’s Wild Horses?” I’ve only read it once, but it says the same thing printed everywhere else. 37,000 on public lands in 10 states, 32,000 in short/long term facilities. Ken Salazar says we have to move them east for eco tourism, the land CAN NOT support them etc, etc. They reported Ginger says the range CAN TO support them, etc, etc. The did try to justify why there is less than 32 million acres left for the horses of the 1971 51 million. They said Salazar’s plan had at least one prominent supporter, Madeleine Pickens. Hasn’t Madeleine withdrawn her support of the Salazar plan?


    • hello my comment is:

      The idea there is land in the Eaat Coast for herds of wild horses is ridiculous !

      The Calico Mountain Range themselves is almost as big as the State of Connecticut !

      Does the BLM study Geography ? or are they just in it for the money ? a fool’s game


  4. Yes, Madeleine Pickens has definitely withdrawn support for this fairy tale. I can’t believe ANYONE can swallow the idea that this nutty “plan” could even be POSSIBLE, let alone desirable.

    Can we harass the BLM into releasing at least some of Freedom’s family?


    • I can’t wait to write letters to the editor in response, first thing I will suggest NICELY is they should get their facts correct. Perhaps saying at the time of interview Madeleine supported… etc. Also, they need to put something/anything in any article like this both sides of the story. There is always two (at least) sides to any story. I’m just glad ‘we’ got some attention in a magazine of this caliber. Hopefully they will so a follow-up!


      • Harass them indeed! Unlike the Pryor Mtn round up they didn’t even try to keep bands together. Just sort ’em and toss ’em! Like so much garbage. I fear Freedom’s family is so mixed up with all the other bands, they wouldn’t know where to start. It just breaks my heart. They should have let them all go at the time he escaped, if they cared at all about survival of the fittest. D*mn them!
        Viva el caballo!


  5. Has there been any word about this stallion? does anyone know if he’s remained free, that he didn’t sustain any serious injury; if any one has seen him at all since his escape? I’m assuming that his famiy was removed to the pens @ Fallon,


    • I read that he was captured with some other stallions and was last seen on a truck heading somewhere…maybe a holding facility, but the writer did not know for certain. Sorry I can’t remember where I read it. Maybe someone else on this blog knows more. It’s been 3 or 4 days since I read that.


      • The Black Stallion was indeed the subject of a hoax. He was NOT Captured and he is not missing but free. This was the subject of a rumor that was caught and squelched so do not spread it, please. Contact Equine Welfare Alliance and ask them. His condition is likely unknown. Mar


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