Wild mustang rescue group celebrates one year
LITHIA - An organization that rescues wild mustangs is throwing a party Saturday to celebrate its first anniversary. The bash, at a barn the Sunshine State chapter of the American Mustang and Burro Association uses near Alderman’s Ford Park, is open to the public. The celebration will include entertainment, food for sale and games. It’s also the chance to see some of the mustangs the group has saved and sign up as a volunteer or otherwise learn more. The celebration is from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at 10130 Ramblin Hinson Road, off Thompson Road, west of County Road 39. The organization’s first year has been rewarding, sanctuary operations manager Jennie Sloan said.“It’s been a labor of love and a lot of work,” said Sloan, who trains the animals so they can be adopted out. The group has placed 10 mustangs in permanent homes, including in Plant City, Sloan said. One horse, named Roswell, was adopted by Christina Henderson, who said she’s happy with her decision. “He’s really sweet. I’ve always wanted a horse and I’m so glad I have him,” she said. The organization doesn’t get its mustangs directly from the wild, Sloan said. Typically, they receive horses that someone has adopted but don’t want to keep or hasn’t cared for, she said. About 90 percent of the mustangs were either neglected or abused. The animals are cared for at the RJ Farms barn on Ramblin Hinson Road and at a 5-acre pasture the group leases for free off Lithia-Pinecrest Road. Sloan said she makes sure the mustangs are acclimated to human contact and are ready to be ridden. Wild mustangs descended from domestic animals that were set free or escaped. The roots of some herds originated from Spanish explorers hundreds of years ago. The federal Bureau of Land Management estimates that approximately 31,500 horses roam rangelands it manages in 10 Western states. The agency regularly rounds up animals due to overcrowding and sends them to short-term corrals or long-term pastures. More than 225,000 horses and burros have been adopted since 1971, the agency said. Sloan said she hopes that people interested in volunteering or exploring adoption will come to Saturday’s party. But everyone is welcome just to see what’s happening. “We want everybody to know that we’ve made it a year and want everyone to celebrate with us,” she said.