In the ongoing effort to shine the spotlight on the unsung citizen volunteers that assist Sheriff Bobby Rader and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office with their time, talents and resources, it is difficult to find one more dedicated than Donna Wiebelhaus, captain of the LCSO’s Mounted Posse under the command of the Special Operations Division.
In 1995, Wiebelhaus joined the LCSO Mounted Posse serving first as a rider, then drill master, then later as the 1st Lieutenant and now as captain of the volunteer organization since 2007.
This Mounted Posse boasts approximately 18 volunteer riders who participate in search and recovery of missing or deceased persons in wooded areas and represent the agency in parades and other events where horseback riders are beneficial. She has assured search-and-recovery training by the world renowned Texas EquuSearch organization in not only search techniques but in the proper handling of recovered evidence and the chain of evidence.
On one occasion Wiebelhaus and her team of riders assisted in a murder investigation search for personal items and human remains while dismounted and working on their hands and knees while side by side searching a very large field. The Mounted Posse is much more than a search and recovery team. After hurricanes hit the Liberty County area, the Mounted Posse delivers water, food and gas to flooded areas and later conduct damage assessments for FEMA.
“It is clear that Donna Wiebelhaus will not ask her riders to do anything that she, herself, will not do,” said Capt. Ken DeFoor, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office. “Captain Wiebelhaus has an impressive background that shows she is up to the task of being the leader of the LCSO Mounted Posse.”
When she was very young she knew she wanted to work with children, so after attending Houston Baptist College she began her teaching career in Dayton for the next 20 years. After retiring from teaching, she attended the SpiritHorse International in Corinth, Texas, in 2009, and in August of that year, she was certified and licensed as a therapeutic riding instructor. Now she gives riding lessons to special needs children and adults, and in 2021, she attended the SpiritHorse International and was certified as a Senior Equine Assisted Therapist.
The Mounted Posse meets each month for approximately an hour where both business matters and training are the orders of the day. Wiebelhaus says that on average they have one new volunteer joining the LCSO Mounted Posse each month. Training of both riders and horses is an ongoing process that gives credence to Donna Wiebelhaus’s own personal motto of: “We have to stay ready to keep from getting ready.”
“There is no doubt that Captain Wiebelhaus stands as an outstanding citizen volunteer that the LCSO depends upon when there is a job that only her expertise in horsemanship can answer,” DeFoor said.