Run With the Wild Horses at Mustang Monument
February 5, 2020 by Allison Reiber DiLiegro
Set in the vast open wilderness of northern Nevada, Mustang Monument Eco-Resort & Preserve is a rare place where American mustangs run free. To Madeleine Pickens, the American philanthropist and businesswoman begins the project, the American mustang had a heritage as proud as the bald eagle, yet the species is in danger of being eradicated. When Madeleine heard this, she decided to take action.
Madeleine purchased the 900-square-mile ranch to serve as a sanctuary for hundreds of wild mustangs that she saved from slaughter. (There are now nearly 1,000 on the ranch.) To make the project self-sustaining, she built luxurious glamping tipis and cabins that allow guests to experience this natural glory first-hand. Proceeds from every stay directly benefit Madeleine’s nonprofit, Saving America’s Mustangs, which works to provide essential care and advocacy for this threatened species.
Mustang Monument is more than travel for a good cause – it offers a one-of-a-kind American safari where indelible memories are made. Madeleine and her team invite guests to revel in the majesty of the Great American West, from its wild animals and pristine landscapes to the Native American heritage that was born here.
Madeleine’s team creates a custom itinerary for each guest, drawing from a long and adventurous activity list. There are ATV rides through the plains, guided hikes on the mountain, rock climbing, a ropes course and a shooting range. The horses are an integral part of the experience, with morning feedings and horseback riding through the ranch on trained mustangs. For kids, there’s also archery, paintball, wagon rides and games.
Facials and massages are available in-suite, or under a shady tree on a warm, breezy day. By night, guests can settle in by the fire to listen to Native American folklore before dinner at Ruby’s, the cozy Western saloon that serves elevated cuisine and craft cocktails.
The ten safari cottages and ten tipis are eco-friendly, but come with all the creature comforts. Tipis offer the epitome of glamping, with king-sized beds, hardwood floors, leather chairs and Native American-inspired decor. The canvas is decorated with icons of galloping horses, who seem to come alive as you hear the exhilarating sound of a herd galloping past. Safari cottages have the cozy feel of a private cabin, with king-sized beds, rustic-chic decor and a private deck. Rates in both categories are all inclusive, which covers all meals, house wine and all activities.
We spoke with Madeleine to hear her take on how Mustang Monument was born and how she hopes it will change the world.
After immigrating to the United States from Iraq, what inspired you to learn more about the American West?
I was fascinated before emigrating and always looked forward to being a part of the American West. It seemed like such a sexy idea of being around cowboys and horses, but when I came here I was surprised at how I couldn’t find this idealized setting anywhere. Once I learned of the plight of the mustangs, it became my mission to save them and share them with the world. Mustang Monument was my way of creating this dreamy American West that I longed for. I realized that tourism is how I will help share the story of the wild mustang in order to save them and create a haven of peace and safety for them.
How did these horses come to your ranch?
I found out about rescuing horses the year Hurricane Katrina, when I rescued some 800 dogs and cats out of Louisiana. I have always loved all animals, but that year especially I became more involved with animal welfare efforts. Another animal advocate asked me to help raise awareness and to combat horse slaughter in America. At the time I honestly didn’t know what it was, what it actually entailed and that it still existed in our modern times, let alone in the U.S. Once I became aware of the atrocities, I started rescuing horses and eventually saved over 1,000 horses that would have been sent to slaughter. In doing so, I established both Saving America’s Mustang Foundation and Mustang Monument Eco-Resort. It has been a wonderful awakening and has given me a space where we’re able to share the story of the American wild horses.
What do you think is the most special way for guests to engage with the mustangs?
Feeding time in the morning is by far everyone’s favorite, where guests get to feed and be surrounded by 700-750 wild horses every morning. It truly is a spiritual moment where you become in touch with the Earth and the animals. It’s quiet, with everyone gathered around the hay wagon. The horses have long, dreaded manes because they’ve never been touched by humans and you realize how gentle horses are; they are vegetarian and they don’t hurt anyone, so it’s a very calming and magical moment to spend with them.
What learnings or experiences do you hope your guests come away with?
Well, there’s a multitude of things. One is that guests become enlightened on the plight of the American mustang: how kind, gentle and iconic they are and that horses are an integral part of the Earth. The second is learning and appreciating Native American history, and the relationship between the cowboys, Indians and wild horses. And lastly I want the guests to leave with the memories of a one-of-a-kind vacation that they will remember forever – the thrilling activities, and amazing scenery, the sunrises and sunsets and the vastness of the land. I want them to remember how every family member, young or old, was able to learn and experience something that they then want to share.