“Look back at our struggle for freedom; trace our present day’s strength to its source; and you’ll find that man’s pathway to glory, is strewn with the bones of the horse.”

From the backs of horses, we have built and conquered nations. During World War I, more than one million horses died for human freedom; in one day alone, 7,000 equines poured their innocent blood onto the smoky battlefields. Most of those horses were American horses; specifically, wild horses — descendants of the animals who built our nation — and who had been rounded up and shipped overseas to carry our soldiers into battle.

Around the world, horses paved trails, fought wars, and built cities. In our nation alone, horses fought our Civil War, a turning point in history that sealed our fate as one nation. They plowed our fields, transported our food and possessions, moved covered wagons and stagecoaches across America’s vast prairies, carried our mail with the Pony Express, pulled our fire engines, and ambulances. Horses logged our forests, hauled coal from our mines and herded our livestock. And let us not forget the hardy burros who went deep into the mines, and built the railroads and worked alongside the horse and man…

The horse is the foundation upon which we built the nation we hold sacred today and who raised Western civilization. The horse has influenced human progress and culture more than any other animal to date. Without the power and beauty of the horse, we would never have had the iconic cowboy.

The horse is interwoven into the very fabric of human cultures around the world. The worldwide horse population is estimated to be more than 65 million; nearly 10 million of which live in the United States. Each year alone, U.S. horse-related industries (care and maintenance, sports and entertainment, investments and employment) draw more than $102 billion in revenue.

If you know horses, you can see quite clearly the contribution animal has made toward the eternal strength of our country. Along with its unmatched courage, its apparent affection, its willingness to communicate with us, and put it’s trust in our hands — the soul of our nation is today symbolized in the heart and spirit of the free-roaming American wild horse — an animal being systematically rounded up by our government and threatened with slaughter.

Horses have already given us the gift. It is we who owe them for the nation we’ve become.

Horses have bled and died enough for us. It’s time we stopped the bloodshed and gave them their rightful place on the hallowed ground they so valiantly fought and died for.

Take a stand with me. Demand that Congress pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 1094/S. 541) to prevent horse slaughter from resuming in our country and to permanently stop the shipment of our wild and domestic horses for slaughter to other countries.

Until the slaughter of American horses is banned — both here and abroad — these noble icons of the American spirit will continue to be treated as disposable commodities by the few who profit from their deaths. To solve the root issues impacting horse welfare today, horse slaughter can no longer be an option.


Photo: Sandy Sharkey


In 2000, Return to Freedom entered into a contract with the Sheldon Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Unable to stop the FWS from rounding up and removing the horses from the refuge, RTF stepped up in an effort to maintain the horses in their naturally selected family and social bands and relocate them to Return To Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary in California. RTF took 50 horses to the Sanctuary.

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Photo: Frances Loza


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Photo: Roy Bozarth


In 2010, RTF took 106 horses captured from Northwestern Nevada’s Blackrock Desert in the infamous “Calico Roundup”. These big boned horses have intermingled with the Sheldon herd and also descendents of the horses who helped create the Great Basin Ranchos and Calvary horses.

These horses are descendents of the horses that battled in WW1 and since the 1800’s have free ranged throughout Northeastern California and Northwestern Nevada on the edge of the Great Basin. They have returned to a natural state over the last few hundred years only to be persecuted by the very agencies that only exist as a result of America’s original WAR HORSE.

Please help Return to Freedom continue to provide refuge for America’s displaced wild horses, those that are fighting for their lives on our public and park lands today.

You can help by Sponsoring a Horse.


Photo: Sandy Sharkey