Saturday, January 2, 2010

Freedom's Story - January 2, 2010

By Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist
and Elyse Gardner, Public Observer
January 2, 2010

Below are photos of the roundup that took place today (Saturday, January 2, 2009) showing how the captured band stallion, "Freedom," valiantly fought for and regained his liberty although he had to leave his family of 8 adult mares and 2 colts.  Jumping a 6-foot fence and immediately thereafter breaking through a barbed wire fence and injuring himself, this was an awe-inspiring, do-or-die effort demonstrating the loathing of captivity to a wild horse and his need for freedom.  We can only pray for his recovery from the injuries he sustained from the barbed wire. 


Before his escape, he became hung up by his front legs when he reared with all his might to attempt an escape from the narrow fenced area where he was being examined by Sue Cattoor and her wrangler. 

Also included here are shots of the capture of his entire band, the 11 horses including Freedom himself.  

More to come.  Right now we are just sending stills.  We have videos and interviews, but these photos really do capture the anguish and drama of the roundup for these majestic icons, our treasured American wild mustangs.

Photography by Craig C. Downer             1/2/10           11:11:46 a.m.
The capture of Freedom and his band by helicopter, 11 horses.

Photography by Craig C. Downer    1/2/10   11:11:58 a.m.
Band stallion, Freedom, in the lead. You can see the Judas horse, trained to run into the pens so the wild horses will follow, being released.
Photography by Craig C. Downer                       1/2/10     11:23:34 a.m.
Desperate horses, Freedom and his family huddle together.

Photography by Elyse Gardner        1/2/10                  11:28:48 a.m. 
During examination, Freedom attempts escape and gets caught up on the fence.
Photography by Elyse Gardner    1/2/10          11:28:51 a.m. 
Slipping as he struggles to free his upper leg from the fence.

Photography by Elyse Gardner        1/2/10                      11:28:53 a.m. 

Photography by Elyse Gardner    1/2/10          11:28:51 a.m.

Photography by Craig C. Downer                       1/2/10    11:30:18 a.m.
Preparing first failed attempt to clear 6-foot fence to freedom. He fell on his back during this attempt but pressed on to try again...

Photography by Craig C. Downer                       1/2/10                11:30:34  a.m.
Preparing for final herculean effort to clear 6-foot fence to freedom...

Photography by Craig C. Downer                       1/2/10               11:31:33  a.m.
...only to have to crash through barbed wire...

Photography by Craig C. Downer                       1/2/10                 11:31:36 a.m. a bittersweet return to freedom, for leaving his cherished family behind


  1. Thank you for recording this amazing stallions fire spirited escape. Beautiful photographs and story . I understand you both are still quite sure he is free. My dream vision is that he has gathered a new band, rescued and lead them to a safe place even helicopters dare not to go.

    Beautiful shot Craig, of his proud and gallant run back to Freedom and his mountains. "Freedom" Let freedom ring, let Freedom run.

    mustangdreams...Cat Kindsfather

  2. He is a perfect example of "Natural Selection" even as forced as it was, from the steel bars of captivity by the inhumane two leggeds. "Freedom"
    is strong and his will overpowered all the steel bars of the prison he was forced into. He is the symbol and dream of every mustang in captivity and every heart of the advocates.

    The strong survive, what a beauty he is!!! May he go on and on........

  3. Let's put Reserve Design in to practice and cut back on livestock on the public lands and increase the habitats and numbers of the wild horses and burros, these returned N. American natives who restore the ecosystem and lend beauty and healing thereto. They are saviors!

  4. Yes, Reserve Design is the answer and please help me as a professional wildlife ecologist to realize this. Here is the detailed plan and how you can help: Thanks so much for your considering this. Happy and Progressive New Year