5 min read

Wild Horse Has The Most Unusual Markings

It’s a horse within a horse 🐴❤️️

Oregon is home to over 4,000 wild horses, but one special horse stands out. The brown mare, named Cirrus, has white markings in the shape of a horse on her side — and it even has its own white “mane” and brown eye.
 
In 2018, a field representative with the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) was watching a group of four mustangs near Burns, Oregon, when he first spotted the horse within a horse. 

Wild horse in Oregon with horse-shaped markings
American Wild Horse Campaign

“When he sent us the photos we were awestruck,” Grace Kuhn, communications director with the AWHC, told The Dodo. “It was extraordinary to see the likeness of a horse on her neck.”
 
“As she moved, the white markings of the horse moved with her, complete with a portion of white mane flying,” Kuhn added. “It was something so beautiful and remarkable.” 

A horse marking on a horse's neck
American Wild Horse Campaign

Unfortunately, in 2018, Cirrus was one of 846 wild horses rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in a controversial effort to restrict wild horse populations. The horses usually lose their families — and sometimes their lives — in the process.

Wild horses being rounded up by the BLM
American Wild Horse Campaign

When AWHC, which fights to protect wild horses, realized the special mare was part of the roundup, they knew they had to rescue her. 
 
“Cirrus is symbolic of what is happening to America’s wild horses: the freedom, and the loss, the beauty, and the tragedy, all reflected in one horse,” Kuhn said.

American Wild Horse Campaign

They teamed up with Montgomery Creek Ranch, a wild horse sanctuary in Northern California, to save her. 
 
In March, Cirrus arrived at Montgomery Creek Ranch, where she’ll be able to live peacefully with other rescued wild horses. Even though she’s over 10 years old and has spent her entire life living wild, her new caretakers have found her to be calm and gentle. 

“While she, of course, has an opinion and gets a little ‘snorty’ when something happens that she doesn’t like, she is measured, careful and even a little curious,” Ellie Phipps Price, cofounder of Montgomery Creek Ranch, told The Dodo. “She has a commanding presence and is very expressive.”

Staffers at the sanctuary visit Cirrus every day in an effort to earn her trust — and, eventually, her respect. In just a few short months, the mustang has warmed up to her trainers enough to approach them and allow them to hand her hay and gently touch her nose.
 
“We believe that with her iconic markings, and overall presence, she could be an ambassador to help us better tell the story,” Phipps Price said. “Not just hers, but the story of what’s happening to America’s wild horses across the West.”

However, Cirrus’ future is up to her, and her new family’s main goal is to make sure she’s happy. If the pressure of being “gentled” is too much for the wild horse, then she’ll still be able to live with reduced human contact on Montgomery Creek Ranch’s 2,000-acre sanctuary, with over 200 rescued mustangs and burros — and the beautiful horse will be part of a herd running free once again.

To support Cirrus’ care, you can make a donation to Montgomery Creek Ranch. To learn more about how you can help protect America’s wild horses, check out the American Wild Horse Campaign’s website.