Wild Horse Education

Sponsor Assist Needed

Rosie and Kidron, 2023. Capture date: 9/11/13

Do you remember Rosie and Kid? Captured at the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (NWS) on the anniversary of 9/11, Rosie gave birth that night to a foal. That foal saved her life. It changed her designation from “mare” to “mare with newborn.” Mares with newborns were supposed to be held and sent only to people nearby.

Following a convoluted trail, these two landed in the custody of WHE. Since 2013, a WHE board member has sponsored these sweet souls and we have made sure they stayed together and were cared for. Initially, we tried to get these two into sanctuary but all requests were refused. They had to be moved from their home once already due to stalking occurring by those intent on disruption. For the last few years they have been in a place where they are happy and have a close relationship with their caregiver. We want them to stay where they are with no more disruptions.

The sponsor has hit a time of temporary hardship and we anticipate supplementing her sponsorship ($3600.) short-term. We have not asked for help caring for these two in ten years. Can help us cover this temporary setback and help keep consistency in the lives of these two sweet souls?

Rosie and Kidron (when they first came into our lives)


The National Wildlife Refuge system wiggled out of compliance to the 1971 Act shortly after it passed. Wild horses and burros at Sheldon had no protections under law.

This led to Sheldon becoming an experimentation ground and a place wild horses and burros were routinely rounded up, experiments done and brokers actually paid to take the animals. The overwhelming majority went directly to kill auctions or into backyard rodeos and then off to slaughter. All of this carried out in secrecy over decades; no observers, no disclosure of records, no notification to the public of removals.

Eventually, after years of experimentations (that included spaying through the rectum) Sheldon (NWS) made the decision to “zero out” the horses and burros in Sheldon. This move would also hide the history of the tragic treatment of the most well documented herd of U.S. Cavalry stock in the nation; no herd, no attention.

Spaying through the rectum resulted in deaths. Those performing this procedure at Sheldon began to look for funding from BLM in 2009.

The only litigation came from WHE. We fought to gain transparency (to observe roundup, holding, release of records). We fought to try to stop the removal and get people to recognize the unique historic value of this herd. We tried hard to get the killbuyers and backyard rodeo brokering ended.

We were up against decades of an infrastructure made up of those benefitting from a taxpayer funded contract system created by the NWS managers at Sheldon. Those that built “sanctuaries” off removals and experiments, decades of secrecy and a web of unsavory individuals looking to make money off the horses capture and brokering. Sheldon had it all. Everything at Sheldon came with more than a fair share of frenzied drama and finger pointing. Nothing was “simple”to explain, except that these horses went through hell.

This image, still used nearly 20 years after it was taken to represent “roundups,” was taken by one of the contractors (paid to take captive horses) and sold to a former contractor that had started a nonprofit to bring back horseback contracts (that lost a contract to helicopters midway through). The helicopter contractor said that could not happen as her people were in the air and blamed it on the horseback contractor; the horseback contractor blaming it on the ground crew of the helicopter contractor. See what we mean about “nothing simple?” Back then, simply publishing this photo could bring on a barrage of attacks from all sides.


We were successful in gaining access for the public to observe roundups, some records released and getting the most notorious killbuyers off the roster as Sheldon moved into the final round to zero out the 3 historic herds in the refuge. The convoluted history of NWS and all the misdirection being done to support other agendas, did little to serve the interest of the horses and buried the fight.

Rosie being captured. She gave birth that night.

At the end, after everyone made their bottom line, we were the only ones out keeping an eye on the roundup. Our founder described the experience as “hell.” Sheldon personnel had their camera on her, not the roundup. As tears streamed down her face as a band she had written about the week before was driven in without their new foal, she turned to the camera and said, “Is this what you wanted to see? Feel like big men now?” A member of the roundup contract staff suffered a broken neck and it seemed even that was blamed on us. “Tense is an understatement.” She was not permitted into the area for days, but did go search for the foal that could not be found.

2014, 8 months after capture

Today, she says it feels like a lifetime ago, a nightmare.

But she was right, what happened at Sheldon NWR did foreshadow what BLM was planning. They planned to follow in the steps of Sheldon: mishmashes of fertility control all stacked on top of each other creating overly aggressive behavior and, if any foal was actually born, a high likelihood it would not survive as the few fertile males competed for the few fertile females. At Sheldon they gelded, did vasectomies, spaying and more, and never monitored the consequence beyond foaling rate. It appears there was never any intention to manage horses in Sheldon. It seems like it was just a proving ground for those looking for large grant funding from BLM (BLM manages more wild horses than all other jurisdictions combined).

Rosie today. She still has that short curly topknot forelock.

We wish Rosie (the Riveter) could tell us of all she saw and how she escaped capture year after year until the final years of the existence of the historic herds of Sheldon. Captured on the anniversary of 9/11, she is a living symbol of all of the contradictions in the world of wild horses today; all they contributed to building and defending this nation, all of the chest beating about patriotism, all of the abuse and greed that surrounded their demise. She stands as an amazing testament to the resiliency of the heart of the wild.

Even today, any discussion about the range where she was born, the wild ones born in Sheldon that were shipped overseas to fight in 2 world wars, the horrific reality of how our government treated the descendants and even her capture and care today, can bring a wave of vitriolic responses.

For the last decade we have done our best to keep her and her beautiful daughter together and safe from the “ugly.”

Can you help us get through this short-term bump and help with sponsorship?

Thank you. We will remove this contribution button from this page when we meet the goal of $3,600.

Our teams are working hard on multiple legal actions we carry in both appeal and federal district court. The “new rule” for public lands has been published and the comment period has kicked off; we are working on a series to prepare you to engage. We is a small organization that takes a big bite.

More from our frontline soon.


Categories: Wild Horse Education