Non-Profit Seeking Help in Providing Sanctuary for the Sheldon Wild Horses

Ancestors Used by U.S. Cavalry Up to World War II

4/8/02 Mark Armstrong.BUTTE VALLEY, CA (The Mustang Project) – The Mustang Project has located 585 acres to provide a sanctuary for America’s most historic herd of wild horses – the horses from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.  Referred to by many as the Sheldon horses, these horses trace their lineage back to the time of the Civil War, and were on the land long before it was declared a wildlife refuge.  Many were rounded up and shipped across country to be used in wars in the US and Europe as recently as WWII.  Over 1,000 horses per week were shipped from America to Great Britain during WWI alone.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), who manages the wildlife refuge, will be removing the last remaining horses from the refuge starting in August.  Unlike the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the FWS does not have any short or long-term holding facilities, or an adoption program.  Instead FWS uses contractors to take horses and adopt them out.  It is believed that many of the horses previously removed have ended up going directly or indirectly to slaughter.  Even if this were not the case, this herd is in danger of being disbursed, and a part of our American heritage lost forever.

It is estimated that there are approximately 450 horses remaining on the refuge.  The Mustang Project would like to provide sanctuary for the horses most at risk – the older horses that are not good candidates for adoption, would not adjust well to being domesticated, and are at higher risk for abuse, neglect, or ending up sold for slaughter.  These horses deserve to live out the remainder of their lives in peace. 


The Mustang Project is hoping to provide sanctuary for at least 300 horses. If there are any younger horses, they could be gentled by youth/volunteers in preparation for adoption or use in The Mustang Project’s programs.  As part of the sanctuary, there will be a visitor education center that will highlight the Sheldon herd’s history, and the history of all of the nation’s Mustangs.


The property for the sanctuary is located near Butte College in California, and has a year round pond and spring, and a PG&E canal running through it to provide water for the horses.  The terrain varies from rolling hills to steeper grades, and there are plenty of trees to provide shade and protection from the elements. 


The Mustang Project has launched a fund-raiser to raise $200,000 to cover the $150,000 down payment on the property, and to purchase necessary equipment.  The down payment needs to be raised by the end of May.  If the funds are not raised, the Sheldon horses will be removed from the refuge, the herd lost forever, and some may even be in danger of being sent to slaughter.


For more information about The Mustang Project, the Sheldon horses, or how you can donate toward preserving our country’s living heritage, please visit:, or email:  Be sure to “like” The Mustang Project on Facebook at: to stay up to date on the Sheldon horses.