LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Ranchers scanned the Red Rock Canyon for the wounded mustang they were tasked to save, but time was running out as the brutal blizzard conditions set in.

Two days prior, on April 5, a group of state officials from the Nevada Lieutenant Governor’s office toured the Red Rock Canyon area with JP Hoffman, owner of Shiloh Ranch, and his staff to a nearby watering hole for the wild mustangs.

JP Hoffman, owner of Shiloh Ranch (KLAS)

During the education tour, one official saw something strange on a young female mustang and called for Hoffman to look—it was a gunshot wound.

“I knew it was bad,” Hoffman said. “It was bleeding bad and had a lot of fluid coming out.”

The tour quickly ended, and Hoffman immediately contacted the Nevada Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to relay the mustang’s condition.

Officials were already tracking the 11-month-old female mustang, Oakley, due to her bloodline’s importance to the small herd, and asked Hoffman to rescue the wounded wild horse.

“It was quite western,” he said.

Hoffman geared up with his posse and drove back to Red Rock Canyon to find Oakley but they noticed something in the sky, snow.

Oakley standing in the snow as Ranchers try to rescue her (KLAS)

“It was cloudy, super windy, freezing cold,” Hoffman said. “It was shocking because it was April, and we are right by Las Vegas.”

The posse split up upon arrival in search of Oakley, but problems began to arise as the herd spread out and the posse’s rendezvous points were difficult to manage due to a lack of cell service.

“We lost daylight pretty quick,” Hoffman said.

The group ended their day’s search and returned to the ranch as Oakley continued to struggle, wounded in the blizzard.

That next Saturday morning the posse resupplied the trailer and set out again into Red Rock Canyon, but a new obstacle would present a challenge, tourists.

“There were people coming into take pictures and ride ATVs,” Hoffman said. “Which is allowed.”

Finally, the posse spotted Oakley and Hoffman attempted to rope her for hours but due to a hand injury that never quite healed he failed to capture the injured mustang.

Again, the group returned to the ranch as Oakley’s injuries worsened.

The next morning the posse had better luck as they warned off the tourists in the area, but just as Hoffman found and attempted to rope Oakley, a videographer stopped him.

“He was going off on me,” Hoffman said. “Which is the right thing, I would have done the same thing.”

Hoffman lost two hours while he explained to the videographer the permissions they were given by BLM and the organization they worked with, and now Oakley was miles away.

“We rode literally every inch,” he said. “We were really concerned she was down somewhere.”

As daylight and provisions ran low one member left to grab more supplies, but that’s when she was spotted again on the side of the road.

Luckily, Oakley was not alone as a male stallion, Venture, stayed by her side as she roamed the canyon—records show he had been attempting to sway her.

Venture, fighting off another horse to protect Oakley. (KLAS)

Hoffman had one more chance to capture Oakley and his hand wasn’t any better.

“I missed twice with the rope,” he said. “So, I did a little trick I remembered as a kid, and I was able to get her with the third loop.”

It would take another two hours before Oakley was calm enough to go into the horse trailer, but finally, she was safe.


Doctors and surgeons at Desert Pines Equine Center got to work tending to Oakley’s gunshot wound which Hoffman said came from a 9mm round that was still in her shoulder.

“We want to thank Doctor Ivy and Garcia along with Surgeon Winchell,” he said.

Hoffman said unfortunately he wasn’t too surprised when he realized the scope of the wound since the bullet injury is common.

Oakley’s wound after being shot in Red Rock Canyon.

“We’ve had issues in Red Rock Canyon before,” he said. “Arizona had almost an epidemic there with a lot of their wild horses day to day, it’s a senseless crime.”

It’s like a needle in a haystack according to Hoffman who said he believes BLM and law enforcement are doing the best they can to crack down on people who shoot equine wildlife.

Two months after the initial recovery, Oakley has nearly fully recovered and can be seen bouncing her hooves in her water trough.

“I think she’s part labrador,” Hoffman said.

Shiloh Ranch in Sandy Valley, Nevada has become home for Oakley who is no longer wild, which means she cannot return to Red Rock Canyon.

“From our understanding, it’s never been done before,” Hoffman said. “We knew it was tough, but we weren’t going to give up on this test.”

America lives in Germany

A major obstacle for the Nevada BLM is the overall horse headcount which has been overwhelming for officials, according to Hoffman.

“Typically, you look at a 5,000 headcount per year in all western states that have wild mustangs,” Hoffman said. “This year, BLM needed to ramp that number up to 21,000, that’s a big number.”

Hoffman sees Shiloh Ranch playing a role in horse handling with the Nevada BLM, and he has a plan: training and re-homing.

Shiloh Ranch (KLAS)

“What we’re trying to do is be that guy in the middle that creates the value of the markets here,” he said. “We want to take it to an advanced level of training, and then actually turn this into a business by assisting BLM with their goals and help these [horses] get into safe homes where they can afford to be taken care of.”

Some Nevada mustangs have already gone through the process and following training been shipped to Europe, where they are given a home.

“It’s funny, there’s a mustang right off Red Rock, his name is America and he lives in Germany,” Hoffman said. “It literally is kind of spreading across Europe.”

Hoffman said his European customers have come calling for true-blue American mustang from Nevada, even asking for an American F-150 and horse trailer to boot.

“I don’t know if it’s the western thing in the culture,” he said. “But we’re definitely seeing that push.”

JP Hoffman, owner of Shiloh Ranch (KLAS)

Hoffman also said it’s important for people to remind others that Shiloh Ranch is no longer a “horse rescue” as it was when owned by Hollywood actors Tony and Jill Curtis.

Horses would be left tied to the front posts of the ranch according to Hoffman who said he has seen his fair share of horses brushed aside.

Volunteers and investors who are seeking to help Hoffman and the staff at Shiloh Ranch are asked to visit their website where they can learn more about the property and even buy a #whoshotoakley t-shirt.

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