The equine inspiration for the 2002 animated film Spirit: Stallion of The Cimmarron has been inducted into the Equus Foundation’s Horse Stars Hall of Fame.
Kiger Mustang stallion Spirit was the artist’s muse for the film. The announcement of his induction was made on May 8, his 23rd birthday,
The announcement came on May 8, Spirit’s 23rd birthday, which was celebrated at his home at Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, California.
“In 2002, millions of youth and adults around the world became aware of the American Mustang and their challenge to survive in a changing world thanks to the animated feature film,” said Neda DeMayo, founder of Return to Freedom, Wild Horse Conservation, a national non-profit organization.
“Having Spirit reside at the sanctuary has helped to engage youth as well as the equine community so they can learn what we stand to lose on our federal lands if we let the Mustang disappear.”
Spirit is a favorite for visitors, young and old, to the Sanctuary, and his image has inspired a new generation of advocates for America’s imperiled wild horses and burros. Government roundups of wild equines from public lands, and its subsequent warehousing of fractured family bands in government corrals and on federally funded private ranches, has created an expensive, controversial and volatile situation which increasingly threatens the lives of the captive horses and the ongoing survival of herds still on the range. Recent federal budget proposals have weakened remaining protections, further threatening the horses’ safety.
This inclusion in the Equus Foundation’s Horse Stars Hall of Fame, along with the recent continuation of Spirit’s story on Netflix’s Spirit: Riding Free, will further help to underline the severity of the threats to America’s wild horses and inspire more people to speak out for justice for these national symbols of freedom.
With 20 years of expertise successfully managing hundreds of wild horses in their natural harem bands, implementing a successful fertility control program, responsible adoption and providing care for senior special needs horses and burros, Return to Freedom actively advocates for minimally intrusive safe and humane solutions to manage wild horse populations on their ranges.
Its Wild Horse Conservation has operated the American Wild Horse Sanctuary on California’s Central Coast since 1998. RTF is open for programs at two locations; Lompoc (Northern Santa Barbara County) and San Luis Obispo, California.