On that day, a child made a promise to America's wild horses: that when she grew up they would have a home. And she feels just as strongly today as she did then.
Neda's love for horses began as a child. She began riding lessons when she was five years old, and in the years that followed she "lived on the back of a horse,". When she graduated high school, Neda left the east coast and moved to California. Her pursuits in the creative and healing arts led her to travel extensively, experiencing different cultures around the world.
Years later she moved to Los Angeles to join her sister and friends in their theatrical endeavors. Holding the vision of one day creating an animal sanctuary, she spent years as a costume designer and fashion stylist in Hollywood. Through these years she was rarely on a horse, but two serious automobile accidents in 1994 changed everything , "I realized that I needed to get clear about what I really wanted to do with my life," Neda recalled. "Because you don't know how long it's going to last."
In the mid 1990's the Press was doing a widespread expose on the adoption, abuse and slaughter of wild horses. Like many other Americans, Neda was exhilarated to discover that there were still wild horses surviving in remote areas, but outraged that they were being destroyed. She shared her dream to have a wild horse sanctuary with her friends and colleagues. A friend told her about a wild horse sanctuary in Northern California. They also told her about a horse trainer, Carolyn Resnick, who had lived with wild horses and deeply understood how they communicate. Carolyn developed her methods from what she learned by integrating into wild horse herds. "This woman actually danced with them," Neda recalls, "and that she knew how to become part of the herd." Within a month, Neda was on Carolyn's ranch studying the way she communicated with her horses. "There was an awakeness in the animals there," she explains, "a spirit you don't find in most domesticated horses." Quickly Neda learned that this unique communication was achieved by earning the horses' trust---exactly the same way used by a herd's lead mare; in a language horses understand.
In the years that followed Neda researched and visited other wild horse sanctuaries and studied with various horsemen, all wonderful communicators in their own right. In that time her vision became clearer, and her convictions stronger: the general public and government agencies need to align with nature's priorities. Neda still believes that there is nothing more important than preserving what is left of our open spaces, natural resources and wildlife.
Horses are a nomadic civilization that predate the human species by more than 55 million years, evolving to their full stature on the North American Continent, leaving and reappearing many times over 60 million years. When the horses stepped off the boat on the shores of Vera Cruz, they were returning home yet again. With that vision, Neda brought the first 25 horses to Return to Freedom Ranch in 1998.
Neda believes that the dream of harmony and balance between humans and the environment lives in all of us. For some, it is forgotten or misled. Return To Freedom Sanctuary is an environment where, through direct communion with the natural world, children and adults alike can recognize nature as our home and not something that needs to be conquered.
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