Imagine a place where as far as the eye can see, miles and miles to the horizon, you can view America as it was 300 years ago. Imagine a place, long revered by the American Indians, where the Cheyenne River flows in all four directions and eagles’ shadows sweep rocky canyon walls, a place where wild horses run free across endless prairies, hooves striking thunder, manes and tails flying in the wind. Imagine a crowded, bone-bare feed lot packed with captured mustangs, some too weak to stand. Listless, dejected, some have lost the will to live. Spirits broken, unwanted, either too old, too ugly, or too independent to qualify for the adoption program.
Now imagine an Oregon rancher, naturalist, and author, with the heart, the will and the sense of duty, the desire to save these animals, and you have Dayton O. Hyde. In 1988, Dayton Hyde raised, by the skin of his teeth, enough money for a down payment on a sanctuary near Hot Springs, South Dakota, and convinced the Bureau of Land Management to send him its unadoptable wild horses.
Today, that dream is a reality — the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary – a home where hundreds of wild horses not only live but flourish, nurtured by the dream of a man of vision, and the freedom he gave them. They live in a grassland home, rocky canyons, wind swept prairies, and dark pine forests, a home they share with coyotes, cougar, white-tail and mule deer, elk wild turkeys, eagles and falcons.
Ok, we did not write the above, but could not have said it better ourselves. In addition to the horses, the sanctuary preserves several sets of petroglyphs and has been used in movies such as “The Killing of Crazy Horse” and “Hidalgo.” Of the 14,000 acres, 2,000 are owned by the Sioux Indians. The 5th picture shows where they hold their Sun Dance ceremony. The ceremony includes dances and songs passed down through many generations, the use of a traditional drum, a sacred fire, praying with a ceremonial pipe, fasting from food and water before participating in the dance, and the ceremonial piercing of skin and a trial of physical endurance. Typically, the sun dance is a grueling ordeal for the dancers, a physical and spiritual test that they offer in sacrifice for their people.