|"Id love to be a horse.
And sometimes, I just run across the prairie just as fast as an old body can go,
just hoping that Ill become a horse and, and not have to go back to being a human.
But old age and my human body always catch up with me."
~ Dayton Hyde
The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary
Dayton O. Hydes heart beats along with the thunder of hooves across the prairie.
His mission is to provide a place where wild horses roam free - safe from starvation, safe from thirst, safe from their cruelest predator: man.
In 1988, he founded the Institute of Range and the American Mustang (IRAM), a non-profit organization that owns the 11,000-acre Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary southwest of Hot Springs in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The Sanctuary is home to about 350 mustangs - the horses the BLM adoption program couldnt give away - the old, the marred and the homely.
Hyde, now in his middle 70s, began a love affair with the mustang as a teen, on his uncles Oregon ranch, helping catch and train wild horses. Ater serving in World War II and completing college, Hyde bought his uncles ranch, but the mustangs were gone. He took up ranching and raising a family - and environmentalism long before it became fashionable. He has written 18 books. "Sandy," published in 1968 about efforts to restore Sandhill crane populations, became a model for the whooping crane restoration effort. "Don Coyote" (1986) de-villainized the plains predator and provided a lot of the money needed to start his sanctuary.
In 1986, Hyde saw hundreds of unwanted mustangs crammed into a Bureau of Land Management feedlot in Nevada, and the idea for a sanctuary was born. In 1988, with the help of then-Gov. George Mickelson, Hyde found the perfect place for mustangs in southwestern South Dakota in 11,000 acres of rugged range on the Cheyenne River between Hot Springs and Edgemont.
The Sanctuary raises funds via guided tours, chuckwagon dinners, sponsorship kits, and donations. The sanctuary includes Guided Mustang Tours from Memorial Day through Labor Day, featuring not only wild horses, but also wildflowers, other wildlife, western history, geology and ancient Indian petroglyphs.
In 1995, Ted Turner's production company brought more than 300 actors and crew to the Sanctuary for six weeks to shoot the movie "Crazy Horse." The $300,000 movie replica of Fort Robinson, which originally was located about 60 miles south, has become another tourist attraction for the refuge.
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