LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– Retired NFL player and former Raider Jay Schroeder is a driving force behind a program to help combat veterans and captured wild horses.
Schroeder became a household name after he stepped in to help win the game for Washington after Joe Theismann’s leg broke on the field in 1985. He later went on to play for the Raiders.
Schroeder now spends his day now at the Shiloh Ranch, formerly owned by actor Tony Curtis, 45 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip.
“This is home. Not bad, huh?” Schroeder said.
Schroeder is now part of The Liberty Projects, which was formed by rancher JP Hoffman.
“He’s a brother. We just became that close and when he wanted to do this, I was like, hmmm, haven’t been on a ranch, haven’t been on a horse in a long time, so but I think let’s do it,” Schroeder said.
These horses were once wild and then removed from public lands by the Bureau of Land Management. According to the BLM, there aren’t enough resources for the animals.
Others disagree making the roundups controversial. The horses that survive are then put in government-holding pens.
Some are adopted, some even end up later getting sold for slaughter and some are sold at auctions to buyers like Hoffman.
“I formed the Liberty Projects after I lost a close friend of mine who took his life,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman tames the horses and then sells them to ranchers, private citizens, and agencies like police departments.
“They’re more alert. Their senses are more acute than a domestic horse,” Hoffman added.
BLM still needs to sign off on the sale and then any proceeds from the horse goes back to the charity aimed at helping combat veterans, according to Hoffman.
“If somebody says, do you have a therapist? I go yeah, mine happens to live in a barn. That’s where my therapist lives,” Hoffman added.
Due to trauma, he’s experienced, Hoffman said he came to realize the only piece he felt was animals.
“Especially combat vets, they’re taught to get rid of kindness, empathy, forgiveness, things like that, act quickly, don’t feel sorry for a bad decision, move forward,” Hoffman said. “We’re asking these guys to forget that and go back to normal life and start acting as a banker does. They can’t do that with a horse because the horse is going to be like no, they’re going to rear up, they’re going to paw you, they’re going to spin around and kick you. They do not allow that.”
Hoffman described the animals as a mirror to the soul.
“They’re reflecting you,” Hoffman said.
Since July when they started the project, more than 20 horses have come through, along with 18 veterans, forming bonds that help both, according to Hoffman and Schroeder.
“We find it very, very amazing how well the veterans and the horses connect instantly,” Schroeder said.
There are currently eight horses at the ranch. Hoffman and Schroeder would like to have more, but told ghe I-Team it’s just a matter of resources.
“We want people to know we’re here and looking for help. We can expand, but we’re maxed with what we can do,” Hoffman said.
They said, so far, this is self-funded.
Hoffman and Schroeder have had to turn Veterans away, but they have hope public members will step in and help the groups in need.
Hoffman calls wild horses “American Royalty.”
“They’re a symbol to me of American freedom, what America was built on,” Hoffman added.
Schroeder and Hoffman are looking for some volunteers at the ranch.
About half of the nation’s wild horses are in Nevada.