Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary / Facebook
The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota, is home to over 500 wild mustangs. This sanctuary with its untouched landscape harkens back to the frontier days when settlers began to move out west.
The Black Hills are a mountain range rising from the Great Plains of North America in western South Dakota and extending into Wyoming. Most recognized by places like Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands, the Black Hills provide the perfect backdrop for a wild mustang rescue.
Its founder was an author, conservationist, and a true American cowboy by the name of Dayton O. Hyde. Born on March 25, 1923, his journey as a cowboy began at the age of 13, when he ran away to join his uncle on his Oregon cattle ranch.
From his book The Pastures of Beyond, Hyde described what it was like his first day on the ranch,
“Though I had no spare clothes or any money or had ever been more than sixty miles away from home and yet to ride a horse that day I became a cowboy.”
His passion to save wild Mustangs began in 1987, when he visited Nevada to buy cattle for his uncle’s ranch. While there, Hyde was enraged when he saw wild horses being rounded up by helicopters and run into corrals by men on horseback. Taking their freedom away and containing them in a corral was just too cruel for these wild mustangs. In his mind, he envisioned large tracts of fenced-in land where the horses could be given their freedom again.
When the Governor of South Dakota heard of Dayton’s idea of a sanctuary for wild horses, he offered a tract of land known as Chilson Canyon in the Southern Black Hills. It was then when Hyde founded the nonprofit, Institute of Range and the American Mustang (IRAM) on this tract of land.
Hyde passed away December 22, 2018, but his legacy lives on. Today the 11,000 acres that make up the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary provide home to over 500 wild mustangs and it continues to grow and preserve the memory and history of the American Frontier.
Watch the video below for more on the life of Dayton O. Hyde.