How did the foundation start?
Mike Swenson, a successful businessman who was concerned about the problems America’s wild horses were facing, formed the Wild Horses of America Foundation in 2001. At that time there were about 10,000 formerly wild horses being stockpiled in BLM holding pens. Today, that number has grown to around 50,000 horses!
Our original mission was to create sanctuaries where the horses who had been rounded up would be given good free-range homes. It is still part of our mission, but we are now adding an on-range component to improve the lives of the horses and burros that are still living in the wild.
We hope you will join our efforts.
For most of my life I have found myself exploring and enjoying the vast public lands of the western United States. Whether it is hiking, camping, skiing, biking, driving or horseback riding, I can never seem to get enough of the open space that gives me freedom from development and my fellow man.
In traveling to other countries, as well as to the eastern United States, I’ve built an appreciation for the unspoiled land we have available in the West, and the belief that we need to work to save this essential resource that adds immeasurably to our quality of life. As I approach 50, I am amazed at how much growth and development has occurred within my memory, and at how much open land has been converted for man’s use. These are changes that you don’t necessarily notice on a weekly or monthly basis. But, if you take the perspective of many years you start to see the accumulative effects. I don’t want to reach the day when we look back and realize we’ve developed away most of what makes our home in the West unique.
Now, I find myself in the position to help preserve the open lands I cherish, and combine it with the love of animals I’ve had my entire life. The prospect of providing new homes for wild horses and burros is rewarding, but I feel that the land can serve that purpose as well as help other species as well. Every environment that we protect for wild horses and burros has the ability, actually the necessity, to sustain the needs of other species as well.
Reading about our Fremont Island Project is a great way to see how we plan to ally ourselves with key groups and people who can make our sanctuaries into model examples of how the land can benefit a multitude of needs. These are the core values of our organization and we look forward to expanding this scope as more people become involved.
Our foundation focuses on helping those horses and burros who have already been removed from public lands, and by reducing the number who will be removed in the future. While navigating this site, you will probably notice that we tend to stay away from the politics that affect wild horses and burros on their native lands. There are many sides of the issue and many people with impassioned opinions about what is the right way to manage the herds. While each of us at Wild Horses of America Foundation does have specific opinions regarding these issues, we feel that we can most effectively promote our goals by staying out of the fray as much as possible.
However, I strongly encourage you to research the many factors that affect wild horses and burros today. Our ISSUES and RESOURCES pages provide a good place to start. The American mustang is an essential part of our western heritage and we hope that people will get involved to help save these iconic animals.