Surviving Wild Mustangs from 3-Strikes adopted by Willie Nelson

by R.T. Fitch, author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

Habitat for Horses delivers Rehabed Wild Horses to Nelson’s Ranch

Rehabed "Voodoo" with HfH VP Rebecca Williams prior to trip to Willie Nelson's Ranch

Houston – (SFTHH) – On the 23rd of February 2010 Jason Meduna was sentenced on 145 counts of felony animal cruelty charges and placed behind bars.  One week later, six of the survivors from the 3-Strikes killing fields were finally placed in their forever homes at the ranch of country music icon Willie Nelson.

For the past 11 months, volunteers and staff of Habitat for Horses have been daily tending to the needs of six wild horses wrenched from the clutches of convicted animal abuser Jason Meduna. 

“Equine rehabilitation is a difficult and delicate operation, especially with horses that were as far gone as these guys were.” stated Jerry Finch founder and President of Habitat for Horses during a recent interview.  “These horses responded well and continue to flourish with each passing day.”

 Jerry was the lead investigator into the 3-Strikes disaster last April.  It was Mr. Finch who hired a plane and along with the local Sheriff flew over Meduna’s parched and overgrazed land to witness a sight that will be difficult for both of them to shake.

“I still see those images at night,” recounts Jerry, “Piles of sun bleached, white bones that stood out from the stark, barren landscape and then there were the bodies, bodies of wild horses everywhere.” 

One of the rehabilitated mustangs that made the trip to Willie’s ranch from Habitat for Horses was a black and white spotted mustang named Voodoo.  Jerry refers to him as the “last horse standing”.

“As we flew over the sand hills I looked down to see a singular horse, standing on a bluff that over looked a pile of bodies and that horse was looking straight up at us.  Horses don’t usually look up but this one not only looked at us but he looked right through me.  It was unnerving but he motivated me to act.  He almost didn’t make it into the trailer to safety he was so bad off.”  Jerry remembers, “We had a connection and that’s why it was so very special to let him out of the trailer at Willie’s knowing that he will be able to live out his life as he was meant to, wild and free”

Willie Nelson sits on the Board of Directors of Habitat for Horses and has, to date, adopted 71 horses that run free and enjoy just being horses on his spacious ranch outside of Austin, Texas. 

Willie’s herd is well cared for by a knowledgeable staff of professionals who have also rehabilitated abused and neglected horses that have come directly from a Habitat for Horses rescue operation.  Willie and his daughter Amy are outspoken advocates for the cessation of horse slaughter in the U.S. and the end to the Bureau of Land Management’s managed extinction of America’s wild horses on public lands.

Photos of Voodoo, Itchy and the 3-Strikes Mustangs upon their arrival at HfH late spring last year (last half of video).  Notice how the “wild horses” will not let nature photographer Terry Fitch alone long enough to take a photo

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19 comments on “Surviving Wild Mustangs from 3-Strikes adopted by Willie Nelson

  1. It brings tears to my eyes to see Voodoo actually taking food from Rebecca’s hand; he’s come such a long way. These poor horses have been to hell and back more than once; they deserve to spend the rest of their lives where they can roam free on Willie’s property. What a great ending!!!


  2. If we allow the ROAM bills to pass-as they are currently written-we will give the BLM the power to purchase zoos like this one and move our wild horses out of the west forever. BLM does not currently have the legal authority to purchase land using the land and water conservation funds designated money..The ROAM bill gives them that power to purchase land for the horses-but does not specify where that land is to be..leaving a very large loophole in the bill, thereby allowing the BLM to accomplish their plan.


  3. So glad that they have arrived at their forever home. Such a heart wrenching video but then heartwarming to know they are rehabilitated and in such a great place. God bless you Willie and Amy and all the others involved with “fixing” these horses.

    Janet I am not sure of exact numbers, if I remember correctly there were in the range of 70 horses already dead on the property and in the range of 200 more that were saved but I think that Pam or RT will be able to give you more accurate numbers.


  4. I was there and most of those horses were all too happy to make friends with anyone who had food – Voodoo included. They were not as wild as a lot of reports portrayed (well, the one that jumped a panel over my head was, ha ha). It is wonderful to see that he and the others will never again have to go hungry. I wish there was as stable and safe a home for every American horse as these guys now have! Much applause to all involved in making this happen.


  5. When I first saw these pictures I felt nothing but sadness, how anyone could allow this to happen to another living, breathing, feeling being was beyond comprehension.
    The horse named ‘Voodoo’… well, he had a “way”. I’m so glad he was adopted by the Nelson’s. They are indeed lucky to have him and his peers. Thank you Willie & Amy from the bottom of my heart.


  6. Seems to me that this was the horses way of saying “thank you for the food and for getting us out of that hellhole”.

    Years ago I was on Assateague (the Chincoteague side) and the van I was in broke down. We got out and there was a yearling standing right there. The lady that took us out there told me not to touch. Boy that was tough! But I didn’t. That yearling really just wanted to see my camera. Not to eat it. So I held it up to him and he just sniffed it. Kinda nibbled on it–with his lips. Yuck it wasn’t food!

    Horses are kind, curious, social animals if you allow them to be. Sure you have to be ever so watchful of wild horses biting and kicking you. But if you go slow and allow them the chance to know and understand what it is you’re doing and why–there less likely to fuss.

    Even though I’m not really into Willie Nelson’s music I can totally appreciate that he is an advocate for the horses. I’m happy that he and I can have something this important to both of us in common. And he is able to walk the walk and talk the talk by taking in horses. I can help here and there with a small donation.


  7. The picture of the mare making a halo will stay with me forever, to me it was the suffering of them all.
    I am very happy, they will live their life out happy and healthy. I watched the Red Headed Stranger the other night. eyes like thunder 🙂 God Bless you Jerry and Willie. Thank you.


  8. what a wonderfull place for voodoo and his horse friends to live a great life.

    Thank you Willie Nelson and Jerry Finch!


  9. God bless Jerry for following his gut and taking action to save all those horses. Thank you to everyone involved in saving these magnificent horses and to Willie and Amy for taking in those 6. Thank you!


  10. And to think the BLM shoots horses in much better shape than this, but not before they have terrorized them with a helicopter for miles and run some to death first..So who is worse, Meduna or the BLM-thats a chicken and the egg question. You did a wonderful job of rehabing and thanks to willie for adding to his herd-loved many of your songs but especially “the silver stallion”


    • NOt only that, but the BLM rounds up healthy horses because sometime in the future their might be a possibility that they won’t be healthy!!!! Insanity.


  11. Front page headline in today’s Sunday SF Chronicle:
    America’s Wild Horse Saga: Government Relocation and Auction Spurs Debate

    I cannot find a link online yet. This is encouraging!! Keep speaking out. We are getting heard.


  12. Considering that many of the horses at Meduna’s 3 strikes ranch were given to him by BLM is a prime example of what happens to OUR horses after a round up. Someone needs to send Judge Friedman photos of this attrocity, so the next time, if and when he ever rules on a round up, he might be better informed and do the right thing and block it. If he had any doubt about the legality of it, why the hell didn’t he block it in the first place? It’s like he was saying there is enough evidence that this guy is a sexual preditor and preys on little kids, but lets let him go anyway? I don’t understand at the mentality of our judical system.

    Jerry and ALL involved saving those horses, my deepest gratitude to you! It’s nice to know in this twisted set of laws and protocol for which we have to live there are still some HEROS out there. I Thank God Willie was lent a hand! Too bad there aren’t more (rich folk) like him. There are too many that have the means but stand by and just watch.

    CUTE BABIES: over the weekend there was the most awesome Appaloosa foal born at Palomino Valley. His dam is a sorrel and he came out with two white socks in the back with a near full blanket filled with spots.

    There are several mares in the pen due to foal with Appy markings. It will be interesting to see what the foals will color like. For anyone that ever studied or bred for specific color genetics you can see that what commonly happens with selective domestic breeding, also happens in the wild. There is one solid mare with a colored baby, a colored mare with a solid baby, then a colored mare with a colored foal.

    I haven’t been around to the back where the stallions/geldings are kept to see who might be the sire (it’s been too muddy and even a 4WD would get stuck) but as soon as it drys out a bit, I’m gonna go take a look see, bring the camera and try to get some decent photos of those new babies, there are currently 7 pairs.


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