Tuesday, July 17, 2018

All the Pretty Horses

Recently I had the awesome opportunity to spend a vacation with my sister--in South Dakota. Yes, while some of my friends are going to Europe this summer, I was positively giddy about visiting the American West! On our girls-only trip (after participating in Wild Deadwood Reads), we made a stop at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.

Look at that blaze!
 This 13,000-acre ranch is a little off the beaten path--but aren't most things that are truly spectacular?

In 1988, Oregon rancher Dayton Hyde raised the money to buy a ranch that had been in existence since the late 1880's. Today, the BHWHS has a herd of 700 wild horses--horses that have never had a saddle on them. They came here because they didn't qualify for the Bureau of Land Management's adoption program. "Listless, dejected, some have lost the will to live. Spirits broken, unwanted, either too old, too ugly, or too independent..." That was under BLM care. At the sanctuary, they thrive!

My sister making friends with a Choctaw pony--a special project at the sanctuary.
 My sister and I took a tour of the ranch and saw all four herds. This really was a spectacular opportunity for us. There were only 6 guests total. We drove out onto the land and saw not only the horses but a hill that is an ancient Sioux burial ground--they found this out because the horses would not walk across the area. Sonar shows hundreds of human bones! Centuries of Sioux at rest.

We also saw the cave where the original owner lived for two years while he built the ranch. Not to mention, remnants of a Pony Express station, and ancient petroglyphs! 

The cave where the original owner lived--for two years!
 You can visit the ranch, support it financially with donations or purchases from the gift shop. You can also adopt a horse virtually or for real! 

I have horses and know how hard it is to keep them pretty and healthy. I can't imagine the work involved in managing a herd of 700 horses, but these animals were beautiful and healthy-looking.

If you ever get to South Dakota, don't miss the sanctuary. And if you have a birthday or anniversary coming up, maybe someone would adopt a horse in your name. What a way to honor the spirit of the American West!

Part of the rock wall from the Pony Express station!

Our guide knew the horses really well. The ones who were nice and the ones who were a little iffy. Here he is pushing away a curious-but-unpredictable stallion.
We would do it again! South Dakota ROCKS!


Kristy McCaffrey said...

Great pics! Thanks for sharing, Heather.

Heather Blanton said...

Thanks for reading, Kristy!