Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Enjoying the summer range at DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary,  Leo and Orion  
are inseparable friends who've been through a war together, enjoying peace and security now
 threatened by the imminent sale of their new home.  Will they get to stay?

Do you remember these horses?   Read the quick recap below, or my blogs from June 2011 might help  (you can click on the link above or on blog "Archives" over to the right).  

L to R: Onyx and Cortez (socks) in Michigan
foster care gaining strength for the trip home. 
 See their full transformation below.  

Onyx in DreamCatcher hayfield with his new family.  Onyx, and all the other male mustangs featured in this blog, were gelded (castrated) by the Bureau of Land Management, but their desire for the family band continues,  and most have rebuilt family bands.   
Brief Recap

Starving in Michigan, these proud wild horses, icons of the American west, had been rounded up from Twin Peaks in northern California by the Bureau of Land Management and sold to a Michigan woman whose plans to sell them fell through, and they were literally starving in her old hog barn.  Two horses died in Michigan.  The local Michigan District Attorney refused to act on law enforcement's recommendation for 16 counts of animal cruelty.  People across the country were outraged.

When DreamCatcher Wild Horse Sanctuary heard about it, Director Barbara Clarke went into high gear to bring these horses home.  Only 20 miles from their Twin Peaks wild habitat, DreamCatcher's 2,000-acre, natural habitat sanctuary was the perfect refuge for these traumatized horses.

But now DreamCatcher's future is uncertain.  The land providing this cherished natural habitat sanctuary for disenfranchised mustangs, wild burros, domestic horses, and unadoptable dogs, is up for sale.  I'm told the word for "crisis" in Chinese also means "opportunity" (perhaps one of my Chinese-speaking readers could confirm this).  

In any case, DreamCatcher has this opportunity to truly secure this land.  It is an amazing opportunity.  It is also a crisis:  I have just learned that they may only have days.  But here is an opportunity to help create an American legacy that will live on long after our generation.

Director Barbara Clarke explains:

Most people are not aware that there are less than a handful of large horse sanctuaries in the U.S.  DreamCatcher is one of them with 2000 acres of land upon which the horses and wildlife may live in peace.  And all this freedom can now be permanently put in DreamCatcher's name for a fraction of what it originally cost.

 " We are at an important crossroads.  We can find a way to purchase the sanctuary property or be forced out."

Donations are starting to come in as people realize we could lose one of only a handful of large sanctuaries for want of such little money." 
                    Barbara Clarke, Director
(We still need upwards of $63,000. -- Elyse Gardner)

         In 2003, one of DreamCatcher's benefactors purchased the wonderful high desert property the horses currently enjoy. For some of the horses - who had come from a sanctuary in Los Angeles that had gone bankrupt - it was the first time they had lived outside of pens and seen grass in years. 

The 1200 acres (that soon expanded to 2000) with no neighbors for more than five miles, provided the room and the environment for an idyllic life for the horses and unadoptable dogs who call DreamCatcher home. 

Dogs get to run around chasing the hay truck, swim in the ponds and bark to their hearts delight.  Horses enjoy spring and summer grass, cool ponds and acres and acres of freedom to just be horses.

Unfortunately, that idyllic life may shortly come to an end.  The benefactor has fallen on hard times and needs to sell the property to us or the bank may swoop in and take possession by the middle of the month.

While it is unsettling news, we see it as an opportunity to get the property in DreamCatcher's name thereby ensuring the future of the sanctuary for the animals.
Fortunately, our benefactor is letting us purchase the property at less than half what it was bought for and loan percentage rates are at a historic low, which is why we consider this situation an important opportunity.  An opportunity to own the sanctuary property at such a reasonable price may never come our way again.

And we are so close to wrapping up the deal with only $65,000 to go.

We hope you, our supporters, can help us make this happen for the horses and dogs who live here as well as all the wildlife that will be in jeopardy if we move off the property.

Over the years we have protected the coyotes, lions, bears, badgers, antelope and deer that call DreamCatcher home. For atrue sanctuary provides open arms to all who pass through its portal.

During this holiday season we ask that you dig deep and give the gift of life and safety by helping us keep our beloved high desert home.  

 Here Is How You Can Help
1.  Click on this Donate button to donate through PayPal.

2.  Call the DreamCatcher office to donate via credit card.  
     530-260-0148 or call the Director 530-260-0377. 
3.  For information about loaning us the remaining monies call the
     Director 530-260-0377. 
4.  Mail checks to PO Box 9, Ravendale CA 96123 with a note
     saying it is for the sanctuary property.

I hope you enjoy the below photographs of the life-sustaining place that is DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary

DreamCatcher is a 501(c)(3), and all donations will be tax deductible. You can be a part of securing safe futures for many animals, even those yet to be, by helping this trustworthy sanctuary plant her roots and continue her healing work.  On behalf of the Twin Peaks horses and the rest of the sanctuary residents (photos of some below), thank you.

BELOW LEFT:  Duke (buckskin) and Cortez (black, white socks), 
 former proud Twin Peaks band stallions, in the Michigan hog barn. 

RIGHT:  Duke at DreamCatcher in the hayfield, pursuing a mare from  his new family.  

Keeley and her baby in Michigan

In fall of 2011 the money was raised for these horses to come home (over $10,000 in just days).  The horses you see here are now all safe at DreamCatcher Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary.

Will you please help DreamCatcher do it again so that these horses, and many others can stay safe in this magical, healing place? Have a look:

Onyx, Cortez, and Duke are back with families at DreamCatcher.  Will they get to stay?

BELOW: Cortez at DreamCatcher                                                BELOW:  CORTEZ and family at DreamCatcher

Cortez looking mighty fine! You can see that Keeley and her baby are part of Cortez's little band in the photo on the right.  These horses have been together through hell and back.  Please help ensure that this is their forever home.

BELOW LEFT:  The girls, hungry and
depressed in an old hog barn in Michigan.

RIGHT:  The Shy black mare and her devoted look-alike filly enjoy DreamCatcher's summer range together.

BELOW:  Onyx at DreamCatcher.  


DreamCatcher is committed to protecting the rights of wild horses and burros in the wild to stay in the wild in their legal Herd Management Areas.  They are Plaintiffs in groundbreaking litigation defending these Twin Peaks horses, which is currently before the Ninth Circuit.

I first met DreamCatcher and Barbara Clarke when seeking a home for five wild mares from the deadly 2010 Calico roundup in Nevada, when I witnessed 1,922 horses chased from their mountain home.  When Barbara granted these five girls sanctuary,  I continued to visit, and my respect for the organization, its values, its hands-on practices with the animals, and its leadership grew as my knowledge of the work there deepened.


Freedom crashes through barbed wire fence after jumping
the 6' fence separating him from his mountain home (see
photo below).  Photo-  Craig Downer

Two of Freedom's mares, the iconic black stallion who jumped a 6-foot fence and crashed the barbed wire to escape his capture, were in that group of five...

Freedom escapes capture as his mare,  who I call Dahlia, frantically runs to the fence, unable to follow.

LEFT:  Frightened and very wild here in the BLM pen, the displaced Dahlia was always hiding behind River,  Freedom's lead mare also at DreamCatcher . . . 

BELOW RIGHT:  Meet the confident, relaxed Dahlia after living at DreamCatcher for two years.


All the horses here have dramatic "before" stories, but it's the horse-centered, day-to-day way of life here, made possible by this very place, that is so precious and what people should see...

...where horses get to live the way horses like to live...

DreamCatcher's Summer Range

    Barbara Clarke checking water supply for the Summer Range horses.  The sanctuary hauls water
    several times a day if/when the ponds dry up.

    BELOW:  Moving horses to another part of the Summer Range 


can be seen for miles as you approach.
The barn is a haven for horses with any medical issues, or horses who need some extra hands-on attention for whatever reason. DreamCatcher's beloved older horses are fed their Equine Senior in this comforting enclosure twice a day. 

Help DreamCatcher purchase the Big Green Barn... and the land on which it sits.

The depth of thought that goes into decisions about the horses, the level of detail, and the underlying, ever-present dedication to the physical and mental wellbeing of the animals make DreamCatcher a glistening gem in the northern California high desert, a haven that I pray will stay as a beacon, a stronghold of safety in these challenging times.  

Barbara Clarke enveloped by some of her biggest supporters.  That's wolfdog and alpha girl, Chloe, on her lap. 
L to R: Sparky, the energetic amazing rat terrier, Barbara and Chloe, the elegant wolfdog Nukka, and Trixie, old Collie mix and former outdoor ranch dog.  These dogs are all unadoptable, and DreamCatcher is their forever home.  They think that is just the greatest...  (These dogs are featured in back issues of DreamCatcher's E-magazine, which you can find on the DreamCatcher Wild Horse Sanctuary Facebook page or Barbara Clarke's Facebook page. 

You can drop send me an email at, and I will subscribe you so you will get all future editions.

You can click here to help DreamCatcher.  No donation is too small or too large.  The Sanctuary needs $65,000 to purchase the land.   I will update this blog to share where things stand...

I was honored to began work for the sanctuary in June 2012 as Director of Public Education and Media,  because DreamCatcher, too, remains, 

For all the wild horses, captive and free, and their humble burro friends,
all who came before, and all those yet to be,

Elyse Gardner
Humane Observer

 Cortez with Keeley and her filly.  


Our wolfdog girls, permanent residents.

A watchful neighboring hawk.
Burros from Sheldon Wildlife Refuge.
30 burros call the sanctuary home. 
Thank you for helping!