Horse running wild in the woods for months is lured to safety by 'sweet' ingenuity

A wild horse that has been running free since last year, with sightings in King and Pierce Counties, is finally safe and sound. The rescue required a lot of patience, a bit of creativity and a little something extra to sweeten the deal for the mustang. 

After only a few days in horse trainer Loriann Warner's care, "Freedom" the horse is already filling out, and her personality is starting to show.

"She is a Yakama Reservation mustang," said Warner. "She’s actually really funny and inquisitive."

Sightings first placed the mare in Enumclaw in 2023.

"I think she was loose in Enumclaw since October because I had someone message me saying they fed her for a whole month," said Warner.

The horse's legend grew in Pierce and King Counties on social media as hundreds talked about the wild horse that couldn't be caught. Warner never expected her to pop up just a few miles from her own home on her friend Kevin's property.

"He’s like, ‘She’s in my yard right now’," said Warner.

After some consideration, Warner made up her mind and became determined to catch the elusive outlaw.

"Everyone said we couldn’t do it," she said.

 On Feb. 4, she had her first sighting.

"I found her the first day. She literally was sitting right in the driveway, had her leg cocked, like, ‘Hey, you looking for me?’", said Warner. Then the second day I come, she’s trotting down the highway right in front of my Jeep. I’m like, ‘Wow. OK, I know where you are now’."

First, she constructed a pen and started feeding her to try to get her comfortable enough to shut the gate on her. However, Freedom kept escaping.


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Patrick the horse made the long journey from a rescue near Spokane to Serenity Equine Rescue in Maple Valley Friday. The horse is only 15 years old but has already had a hard life.

"The second time it failed, I was like oh, we have to switch things up," she said.

Warner worked on building a better mousetrap. That included putting a wheel on the gate, so they could shut it faster.

"With horses, it’s just a split second and something happens," she said.

But, the real key was a sticky bucket of sweet molasses.

"God’s intuition. He told me, 'Just put molasses in the pen'. I’m like, OK, ‘It might be for nothing, but I’m going to do it’. So, I put molasses in the pen," said Warner. "There was no sign of her, but she obviously was watching me because, within 15 minutes she was in the pen."

Warner says her husband gunned their Jeep towards the pen, and she jumped out like an action hero, in order to shut the gate.

"Alfalfa was cool for her, but molasses was the key," said Warner.

Warner believes Freedom was sold through an online Enumclaw auction for about $200, then escaped a possible starvation or neglect situation.

"It’s just really unfortunate, because of the decisions of people, horses have to go through things like this," she said.

The mustang has a vet appointment coming to start work to fix her hooves. As the horse takes her first steps towards haltering exercises, the future looks bright.

"She’s gaining confidence with me," said Warner. "I can help them understand I want to be their friend and let them be who they are."

Warner says after she trains Freedom, she will remain part of her family.