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Steamboat Magazine

Rescuing Apollo

05/29/2024 11:27AM ● By The Wild Horse Refuge
(Photo: Apollo (center) and Lucky (left) flourishing in their new free-roaming home. Courtesy of the Wild Horse Refuge.)

Steamboat Springs, CO - Meet Apollo, a mustang born in 2019 whose resilience is a testament to the spirit of wild horses. His story begins in the vast expanses of the Sand Wash Basin in Colorado, where he roamed freely until the Bureau of Land Management intervened. In January 2023, Apollo was auctioned off in Canon City alongside numerous other mustangs. Adopted with the hope of transforming him into a riding horse, Apollo was relocated to Arkansas. His gentle nature and sweet demeanor initially promised a bright future. However, like many wild mustangs before him, Apollo struggled to adapt to domestication. Resistant to being broken, he languished in a pen, his spirit dwindling each day. The stress and confinement led him to stop eating, causing significant weight loss and a dramatic decline in his quality of life.
Apollo's plight did not go unnoticed. Concerned horse advocates rallied to his cause, reaching out to the Wild Horse Refuge with a plea to restore his freedom. The Refuge, known for its dedication to rescuing Colorado-born mustangs, gladly accepted the challenge. In late summer 2023, Apollo was transported back to Colorado, this time to find sanctuary at The Wild Horse Refuge.
Upon arrival, Apollo was greeted with open spaces and the company of other rescued mustangs. He quickly joined a band of horses, regaining his strength and vitality in the expansive, natural environment. The transformation was remarkable: Apollo thrived, putting on weight and embracing the freedom he once knew.
The Wild Horse Refuge, founded in 2020 amidst the growing concerns over the mustang population in Sand Wash Basin, has been a sanctuary for these iconic creatures. Initially, 12 horses were rescued, and they found a temporary home at the Wild Animal Refuge's 10,000-acre facility in southeastern Colorado. However, recognizing the need for a dedicated space, supporters and advocates came together to secure a 23,000-acre plot near Craig, Colorado.
This new facility mirrors the terrain that mustangs have roamed for centuries. Unlike traditional sanctuaries, the Refuge is devoid of stock pens or fenced pastures. Instead, it offers a vast expanse where horses can run freely. The Refuge is staffed by dedicated caretakers and volunteers, ensuring the horses' well-being.
The Refuge’s mission is to restore the freedom of Colorado's historic mustangs, preserving the wild essence that symbolizes the American West. With over 150 mustangs rescued, the Refuge is continuously working with range specialists to sustain the land and maintain a healthy population of horses. Apollo's journey from a dismal pen to the open plains of Colorado is a powerful reminder of the importance of freedom and the enduring spirit of the wild horse.
For those inspired by Apollo's story and the mission of the Wild Horse Refuge, there are opportunities to support and engage with this monumental effort. More information, including how to arrange a tour or donate, can be found on their website: