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“So much to learn in such a pristine setting”

Return to Freedom, American Wild Horse Sanctuary
Ranked #14 of 44 things to do in Lompoc
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Attraction details
Owner description: Return to Freedom is dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity and habitat of America's wild horses through sanctuary, education and conservation while enriching the human spirit through direct experience with the natural world.
Simi Valley, California
Level Contributor
39 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“So much to learn in such a pristine setting”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 September 2012

We took my Mother up to Lompoc, as she was visiting from Europe. This was a bit of a commitment with a drive at 2 hours+, but well worth it. It is a neat ranch and amazing how few people are running the place with such efficency.

The surroundings are beautiful, even though the relentless Summer sun had turned all the hills into dried, yellow and barren sights. We were imagining how gorgeous it must look in the rainy season with green hills and the horses. Almost like a little bit of Ireland? :-)

We were greeted very promptly and super friendly by Jessica and also the resident cat Thor. He was a big hit with all, because he decided to sit right in front of oncoming traffic - so as to say "listen - I get attention first, then the horses". It was the cutest.

The founder, Neda, gave the tour group an overview of the issues at hand and we also watched a video about the foundation's goals, etc. Then we were off to meet the "stars of the show". Beautiful Mustangs, Chaktaws, and so much more... all so pretty and many very tame and eager to get a nice scratch behind the ear. It was very interesting to see how they all have such very distinct personalities that can be observed so very quickly. Just neat.

The foundation also put some fruit, water and chips/dip out on the back patio for refreshment, which was very nice. The local scrub-jays also loved that fact as we observed several having a nice little brunch. :-)

My only downside (but I am usually a little sour on this point) - are kids running crazy and some parents simply not caring to do anything about them. This drives me absolutely mad. I realize children get excited, but especially in some of the front pens - where Spirit was and Sutter - you could not even get a decent look. The children running straight up to each pen, climbing up on the fences, hogging the rail and then basically just enveloping that horse.

Not just was it annoying at some point (hello - oblivous parents - other people wish to see the horses, too), but it got even downright dangerous (which again, apparently the parents always think they leave the responsibility to others) so that the owner had to stop everything and give a safety briefing.

Again, these were not all children/parents, but it always does take just a little bit of enjoyment away from a perfect experience when some people feel the indulgences of theirs needs to stand above all else.

A big thank you to all the staff for making this wonderful visit happen for us. I am so excited that we were able to get such and insight into the issue and I feel like I need to learn so much more. I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the ranch and all the horses just seemed "happy". We hope to be able to return for another visit some day.

PS: Sunscreen and/or long covers are your best friend. Even though we caught Lompoc on a relatively mild day (around 70s) - the sun gets hot real fast and beats up on you. :-)

Visited September 2012
6 Thank jayisgerman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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25 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Huntington Beach, California
Level Contributor
222 reviews
77 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 September 2012

Just loved this place! The area is pretty and the horses are gorgeous!
If you love horses you have to stop by here!
Is it nothing less than awesome!!!

Visited July 2012
3 Thank hbsurfer1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Maria, California
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 August 2012

What a great facility! What a brilliant idea! An organization and cause worthy of support. The tour was led by a well-versed, animated young lady. The interns and volunteers were happy to share their knowledge and experience. The resident cats were an added bonus!

Visited August 2012
3 Thank sistergh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Barbara
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Don't Miss This!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 August 2012

Oh, my, what can I say that can possibly capture the essence of this beautiful, educational, and emotional experience? Our trip from Santa Barbara for the Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary Tour was a top highlight of the summer for myself, my daughter-in-law, and my two grandchildren, ages 6 and 9. In the short span of 2 hours we learned so much about the plight of the wild horses in this country, of the different genetic groups, and of the importance of the family unit. Freedom's mission to preserve the freedom, the diversity, and the habitat of the wild mustangs is so incredibly important. Be prepared for hot weather, especially later in the summer. Wear closed shoes (it is dusty), bring a hat and water. Next for me will be the Wild Horse Walk in the spring.

Visited August 2012
2 Thank Bonnie L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Barbara, California
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Wonderful visit to Return to Freedom, Wild Horse Sanctuary”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 August 2012

We had a lovely visit from Santa Barbara. A nice drive to a very special place. To see a place dedicated to preserving wild horse genetic lines was an unexpected treat, and one that tied our American history to these horses. My daughter and I brought a picnic lunch, which we enjoyed after our walking tour. A very unique place to visit in this part of California

Visited August 2012
3 Thank SBTraveler38
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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