Sun, Fire, Moon, Luna and Starlight are the inspiration for Sky Mountain Wild Horse Sanctuary. This family band of mustangs – affectionately known as the Jarita Mesa gang of five – were rounded up and removed from Jarita Mesa in the Carson National Forest in the spring of 2007. Sun, Fire, and Moon were hide and bone after starving during the harsh winter on over-grazed range, and Luna’s heavily pregnant belly hung below a sharply protruding spine and ribs. The band had to be held and fed for a month on the mesa before they were strong enough to stand for the trip down the winding mountain roads leading out of the Carson.

A first glimpse of this band in the holding facilities found them against the back of the corral, deeply wary of any human. Their poor condition made their future more uncertain and their clear family bond fed a strong desire to keep them together. This original Sky Mountain Wild Horse Sanctuary band of mustangs was adopted on May 1, and Luna’s foal Starlight arrived three weeks later. That first summer was a frenzy of learning about who they were, supporting their weight gain and return to health, and finding just the right wild land for them to roam.

Today, the Sky band of mustangs is thriving within the bonds of their growing band and in their freedom restored. Rain drops and snow flurries inspire the fat happy mustang dance, with Starlight and Moon leading the prancing, rearing, and playful nipping that ensues. Each is sleek muscle, sinew, and raw power as they gallop across their sanctuary meadow at full speed. Their connection shows in how they fall in line when lead mare Fire raises her head to give the look, in their whinnying for each other when seeking to gather the whole band together, and in how they circle to graze in each other’s company at sunset. The band continues to teach us about the power of resilience and wildness, and of a true vision for wild horses and the wild places they share with all others.

These teachings are the soul of Sky Mountain Wild Horse Sanctuary’s commitment to freedom, wildlife, and wild lands as true sanctuary. Mustangs adopted into the sanctuary roam with the Sky band for the rest of their lives, free of the threats of abuse, neglect, and slaughter that cause so many wild horses suffering and death. Sanctuary land and water is conserved for the mustangs and all wildlife they share it with, ensuring forage for all and sustainability now and into the future in place of the overgrazing that threatens ecosystems and wildlife elsewhere. The sanctuary is sage in the air and the creek gurgling from a spring in the mountains. It is red and purple wild flowers stretched across the meadow and the yipping of coyote puppies and elk bugling as the sky darkens and then lights up with stars. It is the hoof beats and heart beats of mustangs reveling in their freedom.

Fire today ~ Photo by Tony Bonnanno

Fire today ~ Photo by Tony Bonnanno

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