We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Not as the picture of a horse in the field.” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Return to Freedom, American Wild Horse Sanctuary

Return to Freedom, American Wild Horse Sanctuary
Jalama Road, Lompoc, CA 93436
Improve this listing
Ranked #5 of 33 things to do in Lompoc
More attraction details
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.
San Diego, California
2 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Not as the picture of a horse in the field.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 13, 2013

It was very disappointing to see horses but not a blade of grass on the ground. There were three or four pens that there was not grass and little bit of shelter. The tour was overpriced. I wish I had walked away after using the outside portable toilets.

Visited September 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ReturnToFreedom2013, Manager at Return to Freedom, American Wild Horse Sanctuary, responded to this review, September 16, 2013
Thank you for the input about your tour at Return To Freedom. California is currently experiencing (September 2013) one of the worst droughts on record and it has severely impacted our pastures. You may want to revisit the Sanctuary after the winter rains when the visual aesthetic is at its peak. When traveling through the high desert of California and Nevada, where many of the wild horses came from, the topography looks very similar and is in fact one of the main reasons that the U.S. Government is removing wild horses off the range. Return To Freedom takes exceptional care of the horses, using high quality grass hay to compensate for lack of current grazing areas.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

23 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, United States
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Spiritually and physically intriguing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2013

Before I visited the famed wild horse sanctuary last August, I came to know Return To Freedom as an 10 year old who fell in love in an animated character named Spirit, a cocky mustang from a child's film.
Little did I realize there was a real life Spirit in California. After searching the internet, I came across this beautiful Kiger mustang named "Spirit" at a sanctuary not too far from my then California home.
Since then, I've been sending drawings and little letters.
Fast forward to August 2012 (a 20 yr old college student). Me and my family decided to take a few day trip to the sanctuary where we got to meet face-to-face with Spirit, a beautiful wilbur-cruce stallion named Diamante (who's my personal favorite), and many of the herds that now consider the sanctuary their home.
I love Neda and her dedication to preserving the natural lifestyle of various herds, such as Chief and his band of Sulphur mustangs, the rare choctaw herd and the kigers.
Return To Freedom is my haven that I consider very dear to my heart because it has always been my lifelong dream to visit the sanctuary since I was a child.
Now that I have less than a year until my college graduation, I hope to move back out West and find myself once again at the sanctuary.

For anyone who loves horses and involvement, Return To Freedom is your place. It has changed my life, and I guarantee it'll change yours, too.

Visited September 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Goleta, California
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“An Experience that makes you want to save& protect Wild Horses!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2013

It was amazing and I learned so much about Wild Horses and what has been happening to them. It is so sad and it makes you want to save and protect the horses and stop the government from taking away their land and killing them off. The people there were very friendly and informative.
My grandkids loved seeing the horses.

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mission Viejo, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Amazing facility, in an awesome location”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 15, 2012

We made the trip up from Mission Viejo to attend Return to Freedom's End of the Trail Closing Day event, and it was more than worth the drive! The horses are gorgeous, and theirs is such a worthy mission, to preserve the last of an American Icon - the American mustang, before they're driven to extinction by the greedy cattle industry. We had an amazing time watching, and actually interacting, with the mustangs - it was an awe-inspiring experience. And the after-party, with food and music provided, was a blast. We plan to go back next year and take our granddaughter for their Kids Day. We can't wait!

Visited September 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Simi Valley, California
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“So much to learn in such a pristine setting”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 8, 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Return to Freedom, American Wild Horse Sanctuary also viewed


Been to Return to Freedom, American Wild Horse Sanctuary? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Return to Freedom, American Wild Horse Sanctuary, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.