Libby was born on the range in the Oregon badlands. When she was a yearling, she was rounded up with her band by the BLM, separated from them, and shunted from one BLM gulag to another until she was finally sold at auction.
Liberty Belle (“Libby”), our first rescued wild mustang.
Libby’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) freezemark brand.
Soon after she was sold, Libby’s owner sent her to a foster. When her foster could no longer keep her, she was at great risk of being returned to the BLM, and eventually sent to slaughter. Despite federal laws protecting wild equines, loopholes are often exploited, and when wild horses are returned they can be deemed “unadoptable” and sold to kill dealers, who truck them outside the country to slaughter.
Wild mustangs in BLM holding pens.
Although our mustang rescue and equine program is still in the planning stage, we decided to take a chance on Libby, and give her safe haven at our Sanctuary – fulfilling an original vision of our Founder, Emily Jo Beard.
Under the patient guidance of Ray Barmore, a lifelong horseman and trainer, Libby took to the groundwork and is gaining trust every day. She has bonded with our three rescued BLM burros, and Ray’s mares, and is settling in very well in the tranquility of the Sanctuary.
Ray Barmore, Facilities Manager and horse trainer working with Libby.
Nothing can replace the free range, but with sufficient support, Living Free can one day offer some semblance of the freedom wild horses once enjoyed.
In the long term we plan to build a mustang rescue program that will be unique to the region – an expansive, natural sanctuary where horses roam free, and children of all ages can hike into the wilderness and study wild equines in a natural habitat. We also have plans for an equine therapy program, as well as a humane education center.
Also, our program will help raise awareness of the plight of the mustangs, help stop the roundups, and ensure that wild horses are humanely and rationally managed on our public lands, where they have thrived for many generations.
Montgomery Pass wild mustang – June 2015. (c. RH – LFAS 2015 )
The Mustang Initiative is a major undertaking, but we believe that preserving a national treasure and symbol of our spirit – not to mention saving the lives of beautiful animals like Libby – is well worth it.