In a sleepy little foothill community far off any main highway there is a surprise waiting for those who happen upon it.
WILD HORSE CANYON is a natural habitat sanctuary for rescued mustangs and their domestic counterparts. As adventure seekers and Sunday drivers wind through the two lane canyon road that leads to the sanctuary through Caliente and Twin Oaks, California, they will see the hills speckled with hundreds of horses grazing on green hay, standing beneath tall oak and pine trees for shade, and swatting flies from each other in a synchronicity of tail swishing. This well-kept secret is home to 300 horses saved from dire circumstances each having its own story of escape from death.
Lifesavers continues to expand the sanctuary properties to make room for additional rescued horses that are not suitable for adoption. It is here that horses with advanced age, injury, lameness, or other limiting factors, can live their lives in peace and harmony never to be in jeopardy of being abused, neglected or sent to slaughter. Ever.
Prior to being released Wild Horse Canyon Sanctuary, rescued horses are assessed for adoptability. Those horses that are suited for a new home go through a training and placement program. Horses that need to go to sanctuary are on a long waiting list and earn their freedom as new land parcels in Wild Horse Canyon are acquired and fenced.
Wild Horse Canyon is not just a refuge for rescue horses it is also a haven for humans. Several times a year Lifesavers Wild Horse rescue, the nonprofit organization that created Wild Horse Canyon, offers its own unique Horse Inspired Growth and Healing (H.I.G.H.) The H.I.G.H. program is a journey of self-discovery for people while they are coached on how to “gentle” wild horses.
Gentling wild horses requires patience, trust, understanding, and honesty, from both horse and human. The process of gentling a horse and earning its trust softens the heart, removes fear, and inspires an emotional connection. Gentling wild horses has a reciprocal effect on the human also. It’s no surprise to anyone who loves, and has been around horses for any length of time, that they have the remarkable ability to soothe our souls. Even ancient civilizations had this revelation. The Bedouins had a proverb saying “the breath of God blows between the ears of a horse”. The earliest record of horses being domesticated was with the Chinese and they revered their animals keeping them close to their homes, and even inside their tents during battle. Even our own Native American tribes believed horses to be sacred.
Lifesavers hosts Wild Horse Warriors, a gentling program for war veterans who return from service with invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and military sexual trauma. Women’s Wild Horse Empowerment is a weekend of wild horse gentling, dream building, vision boards, yoga, and meditation for women and girls. The original gentling program, Wild Horse Boot Camp, is offered as a natural horsemanship training clinic without an intentional healing or empowerment component, but without fail at least one participant will have an emotional breakthrough that was not expected, nor pursued. It just happens and it’s always a good thing.
All of the weekend programs offered at Wild Horse Canyon provide lodging and meals to its guests.
This is how the rescued horses of Lifesavers living at Wild Horse Canyon give thanks to the people who saved their lives. It’s the equine version of paying it forward.