In the summer of 2010, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rounded up and removed 174 wild horses that had migrated off protected public lands in the Pilot Valley and Toano Herd Management Areas in Nevada. As a result, the horses lost their legal protection under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, and were put up for sale at a livestock auction in Fallon, Nevada. Bidding for over five hours against kill buyers from Canada, Ellie Phipps Price partnered with Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue to purchase every horse at the auction to save them from going to slaughter.
There were 18 mares with foals by their sides, two orphan foals, 76 stallions and 59 other mares, many who had lost their foals in the roundup. A few of the mares were pregnant and their foals are now three years old and available for adoption. The foals purchased at auction are now four years old and most have been adopted.
After the auction, the horses were temporarily housed at a facility in Fallon under the watchful eye of Mike Holmes, a former Nevada state wild horse manager. All of the stallions were castrated, the babies were weaned and gentled, and they settled into their new life in the care of people. Being wild, these horses could not be handled and required chutes and heavy fencing to manage. Their days of roaming free on the Western range with their families were over.
In 2012, Ellie purchased Montgomery Creek Ranch and founded Montgomery Creek Preserve, a charitable organization. Nestled in the hills of Stonyford and Elk Creek in Northern California, Montgomery Creek is a 2,000 acre ranch with long valleys, rolling hills of chaparral, and steep ridges dotted with digger pines. There are creeks, springs and reservoirs that provide plenty of water for the wild horses. Huge and ancient Valley Oaks that follow the creek include a "Old Man" oak, estimated to be over 1,000 years old.
The Toano/Pilot Valley horses arrived at MCR in July of 2012. Since that time, the original herd has expanded to over 200 horses through the rescue of other wild horses in need, including:
- The Deer Run herd captured from BLM lands near Dayton, Nevada.
- Virginia Range mustangs, captured by the Nevada Department of Agriculture from private, state and local lands in and around Reno.
- Ft. McDermitt horses, captured from the Paiute-Shoshone reservation and public lands surrounding it in northern Nevada.
- BLM mustangs from various states that were at risk of going to slaughter.
Most of these horses roam free on MCR's 2,000 acres. We have an adoption program for some of the young horses. The horses on our adoption page are young and have been gentled. Once these horses are adopted, we will have room for more wild horses in need of permanent homes.