They're now free. Fifty–two wild mustangs first sold for slaughter are running free in KOTA territory.
“We figure we could get a good jump start on saving mustangs and get them good homes,” said Ziad Ojaki of Ford Motor Company.
The grueling trip ended and now they roam freely in their new home, just south of Hot Springs at the Wild Horse Sanctuary.
“We verify that they have the capacity to take care of these animals and that they have pasture and resources,” said Kathleen Clark of the Bureau of Land Management.
Ford Motor Company actually saved the mustangs from slaughter. They intervened after a South Dakota Indian tribe sold the horses to a broker who sent them to an Illinois processing plant. Ford purchased and donated the mustangs to the non–profit sanctuary.
“A good part of our success has been driven by the mustang, so we saw that as a good opportunity to pay back and pay forward,” said Ojaki.
“These animals were sold and became private property, once they were private property there wasn't anything illegal about the tribe trading them nor was it illegal for the broker to take them to slaughter,” said Clark.
Actress and long–time horse advocate Stefanie Powers brought the matter to Ford's attention and persuaded them to ship the wild mustangs. Ford plans to help save about two–thousand nationwide.
“I'm a great lover of horses. I have 26 of my own so to see this event occur is just good news,” said Powers.
The issue drove the Bureau of Land Management to the three U.S. processing plants begging them to refuse to buy horses sold for slaughter. In December Congress replaced the mustang slaughtering ban with a law permitting older and unwanted wild horses to be sold.
“It's difficult to gentle a horse that hasn't been around people, riding, or through a training program then all of a sudden they are 11 years old and it makes it more difficult,” Tom Dyer of the Bureau of Land Management.
"They're beautiful and they couldn't be in a more beautiful setting,” said Ojaki.
Ford established a save the mustangs fund. If you want to learn more about the issue or support the cause you can log on to www.savethemustangs.org.