The Story of Lewis and Clark
Once upon a time in the wide open space of the Steens Mountain range of Oregon there was a group of beautiful mustang stallions that bonded together as a “bachelor” band. These buddies were handsome pinto colored horses and spent their days grazing and playing like best friends do. They grew up as young colts on the range and turned into older mature stallions who spent the greatest years of their lives wild and free.
Until one fateful day when the helicopters showed up and gathered these horses along with many many others. That was the end of life as they knew it. The stallions, between the ages of 13 and 20 years old, ended up at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facility in Burns, Oregon where they were processed, branded, and gelded then made available to the public via an internet auction.
What happened next for these guys is an amazing twist and one step in the path that led them to Lifesavers.
A special friend of mustangs was viewing the BLM horses online and noticed something interesting about two of the flashy pintos. She recognized them as the same two horses in a photograph that she had purchased at a fair the year before and it was hanging on the wall of her house. She couldn’t believe that the horses photographed wild and free and sparring like stallions do were now stuck in a corral waiting to be sold to who knows who. And they were 20 and 16 years old. What good thing could possibly happen to these once-wild used-to-be stallions now? Well, Nancy knew it was going to be up to her to save the horses she only knew from the photo hanging on her wall.
She put bids on both horses and wins the titles to the mustangs that she called “Lewis and Clark”. Happy ending? Not quite yet….
Lewis and Clark went home to California where Nancy and her husband lived with other wild horses and burros that they had previously adopted from the BLM. They were not novice or new to the world of wild horses and had dreams of gentling both Lewis and Clark to become mountain riding horses. After a great effort with a lot of the best professional wild horse gentlers around and a bit of soul searching, Nancy had an epiphany. She and her husband Mike decided that the best thing they could give these horses is their freedom back. Now, of course, the BLM would not let them go back into the wild, but maybe a sanctuary would be willing to take them in.
Enter Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue. In 2006 I got the call from Nancy and listened intently to the sad story of how these aged horses had been removed from the only home they ever knew. And how, despite the kindness and care that they were given at their new California home, they were not the same horses as the ones pictured on her wall. They lost some of their spirit – they were resigned to a life of domestication – not what they truly desired. Nancy and Mike just wanted their horses to be happy again. The question was – can Lifesavers make room for them at our sanctuary so they could feel free again and live like the wild horses they were born to be?
“Yes, Nancy, Lewis and Clark can come live at our sanctuary” I responded. So plans were made for their arrival and release on to our 160 acre parcel in Caliente, CA where a herd of other previously rescued horses were already calling it home. Lewis and Clark found a little bit of what was stolen from them when they were forced to leave their homeland – never to be returned.
Happy Ending? Yes, but the story still takes another twist….
A year later I received a phone call from Tanya in Florida with almost the same story as Nancy’s. Two horses were rounded up as mature stallions. They came from the Steens Mountain range. They were flashy pinto colored. They needed sanctuary…
Now scroll back up to the beginning of this story and look at the photos of the horses in the BLM corral with Lewis and Clark.
YEP! The other two horses that were captured and corralled with Lewis and Clark were also looking for sanctuary. And YES we let them come and be with their original buddies from the Steens Mountain range – also known as the Hollywood herd because they were so colorful and easy to take pictures of – like celebrities in the wild horse world.
Happy Ending? Finally yes a very happy ending for 4 older stallions who were best friends, wild and free, then cruelly rounded up, branded, gelded, and then separated who were joyfully reunited 10 years ago to spend the rest of their lives right here at the Sanctuary.
Unfortunately we lost Clark a few years ago to an injury that he would not be able to recover from. And today we are giving a fond farewell to Lewis and Ohi who both passed away over the weekend. Lewis was 31 years old, and Ohi 25 years old. They both died from natural age related causes and were not suffering from sickness or injuries. They are survived by Pono who is 25 years old. Pono is in the very good company of some mares that he is quite fond of and we expect him to stick around with us as long as he can.
Rather than dwell on the sadness of losing some of our oldest friends who have been living with us for 10 years, I wanted to share their amazing story and celebrate their life. I wish Lewis, Clark, Ohi and Pono could have remained on the Steens Mountain range in Oregon where they were born and grew up to be the beautiful majestic stallions. But, I am honored that were were able to give them a little bit of their freedom and peace back after the BLM so rudely took it all away.