Sunday, July 9, 2017

July 6-7 - Bill's Birthday - The Black Hills Wild Horses Sanctuary

One problem we have had, especially needing internet to keep our blog updated, is finding an internet provider in this neck of the woods. We both have Sprint and therefore neither of us has data available. The phones and texts work just fine, but no data, which is what we use a lot of to research campgrounds and places to visit. Bill had taken his old iPhone to Cricket and got a phone line with 12Gb of data that we could share, however with Cricket the data used seems to be used faster than it was actually used and when the phone said 6.1 Gb used, Cricket sent us a text saying we had used over 75% of our account, so apparently they don’t understand that 75% of 12Gb is 9Gb, not 6.1. So we started researching alternatives. Internet is available  through the satellite (Dish or DirecTV) but it is rather expensive to set it up (about $6,000) plus a monthly fee of about $100/month.
So, instead of celebrating Bill’s birthday on July 6th due to unavailability of tours that day, we drove to Rapid City and got a Mi-Fi (portable Wi-Fi) with unlimited data through Verizon, (which seems to have the most coverage in rural areas like the Dakotas, Montana and so on). The cost is very affordable with an initial cost of $130 and with Bill’s  military discount, only $76/month (taxes & fees included). NOTE: If you get a phone # with an area code in Montana, there are hardly any taxes and fees, Ours are just under $3.00.

While in Rapid City we also attended a weekly event held every Thursday evening from 6-9pm; they close the streets of downtown and have different  bands playing music, with food and beverages. Of course, we need to point out that in South Dakota, in the summertime, sunrise is at 5:15am and sunset is not until at least 8:30pm or later.  After Verizon and before the music event we had dinner at the Firehouse Restaurant, which is in the old Downtown Fire Station, which closed in 1975 and was taken over and converted into a restaurant, which has operated successfully since then. The food was magnificent and the décor, service and management all excellent. Downtown Rapid City also coordinates several venues of entertainment and the camera surveillance and police presence insure that all is peaceful, not to mention that Rapid City, while being a more cosmopolitan “city” than most towns, maintains a ‘country’, small town atmosphere, so everyone is very friendly.

The street blocked off for the Summer Nights music event.

The Honor System, it probably saves citizens and the court system a lot of time.

The Firehouse Brewing Company is actually several entities (Firehouse Mercantile, Firehouse Winery, Firehouse Restaurant and the Brewing company, The restaurant is
set in a renovated firehouse and it is the oldest operating brewery in South Dakota 

In front of the Firehouse Restaurant, downtown.

Rapid City seems to have bronze statues at every corner. This one in front of the Prairie Edge store, which has décor and antiques of American Indian heritage (beautiful things).
Water Park at the Rapid City Downtown Plaza, where the kids can play and cool off.
Downtown Rapid City (about 5:00pm)

Architecture of downtown Rapid City, S.D.

Inside the old Firehouse Restaurant in Downtown Rapid City

Trying to decide what to order...

Old Firefighting equipment décor on ceiling of restaurant

The Rapid City Downtown Plaza

These are our new RV friends, Mike and Magda, from the Southern Hills RV Campground

There is an active trolley system that moves people around to the
downtown area, though we had no problem parking on the main street. 

Another statue...

By 6:30pm the street has filled in well for the event.

A gun shop.

Sip-n-Cycle. You can sit and drink beer, BUT you have to cycle to go anywhere.
The driver controls direction and braking... oh, and he/she can't drink.

Another statue... Lyndon B. Johnson.

Listing of the Events planned.

Street Map of Downtown Rapid City

 Another statue...
And another... Kennedy was there too, but the photo was overcome by too much light.
Beautiful sunsets on the way back to the campground.

On July 7th Mary took Bill to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary (for his birthday), which is just south of Hot Springs, S.D. and is home to about 700 wild mustangs that run free on 11,000 acres of sprawling, sun-drenched grassland, hillsides and riverbanks.  Here, each mustang has found sanctuary since its founding in 1988. Imagine a place where as far as the eye can see, miles and miles to the horizon one 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 due to its winding path, and eagles' shadows sweep rocky canyon walls, a place where wild horses run free across endless prairies, their hooves striking thunder and their manes and tails flying in the wind.

Now imagine an over-crowded Bureau of Land Management (BLM) feed lot, packed with captured wild mustangs, many too weak to stand, listless, dejected and often even having lost the will to live any longer, with their spirits broken, unwanted, either too old, too ugly, or too independent too qualify for the BLM adoption program. Without the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, these horses would have died (naturally or put down) be it not for the love and determination of one man and life-long cowboy, who created this wild horse haven, here on earth.

And now imagine an Oregon rancher, cowboy, naturalist, and author, with an abundant heart, will and sense of duty, with a desire to save these animals, and you have Dayton O. Hyde, its founder. Though it is not clear where Dayton Hyde raised enough money for a down payment on the sanctuary near Hot Springs, South Dakota, and convinced the Bureau of Land Management to send him its un-adoptable wild horses from the feed lot, it is known that he did so against many odds, having left his own ranch and family in Oregon.  Soon thereafter he met his friend and companion Susan Watt, who in his books he readily admits is the driving force behind the sanctuary. In order to qualify for an ‘Agricultural’ tax basis he was required to have cattle on the property, so they also keep a minimum of 200 cattle spread which they sell for additional funds for the horses. And even among the horses, though most are kept wild, a few are bred to maintain the separate gene lines and the foals are also sold for  funds to support the costs of maintaining this sanctuary and most horses wild. 

Today, Dayton O Hyde’s 29 year old dream is a flourishing reality. We took a 3-hour personalized tour with Kate, a full-time RV’er who comes every year for about 2 months to volunteer her time at the sanctuary.  Her love of these wild horses is evident, and we can fully understand why. For volunteers the sanctuary maintains six (6) RV sites with full hookups (water, sewer and 50-Amp electric service) while they are volunteering there. So you may well hear about our volunteering here in the future. A great cause and we get to be around wild horses in the rural expanse of this great land. What more can one ask for.

While the horses are still ‘wild’, they are used to people coming around to see them on tours and being great judges of character they look at you, deep into your soul, and can tell if you are worthy of their trust. A few of the horses came up to the vehicle we were in and stuck their heads in and looked at us, eye to eye, and must have seen in our souls, as we saw in theirs, and in that exchange a calm trust was established, enough for them to accept our hands to caress their noses, foreheads, manes and backs.  If you ever come up to (or near) Hot Springs, SD, if you love horses as we do, you owe it to yourselves to visit the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, experience the dream, visit their grassland home of rocky canyons, wind swept prairies and dark pine forests, which they share with coyotes, cougar, white-tail and mule deer, elk, prairie dogs, wild turkeys, eagles and falcons; though apart from the horses we only saw wild turkeys, prairie dogs and white peacocks which Dayton Hyde keeps at the ranch.

We hit the bumpy road, to view large bands of wild mustangs from all over the country located in different areas on the tour. From Choctaw Indian Ponies, to Mustangs with curls that you will love, to American Mustangs and the very spirited Spanish herd this is a “horse lovers” paradise as viewed in our photos. There are four separate herds kept isolated from each other in an effort to maintain the gene-lines pure, so there is no cross breeding.  The Choctaw Indian ponies are in one heard, the Spanish-descendant horses are in another (identified by a dark line on their back and other traits), and the American Mustang. Like the Quarter horse, of which there are none here, each s a separate breed. Then, the fourth herd is that they call the "Wild Ones" which are horses that are truly wild and want nothing to do with Man, so they make it a point to stay away from everyone. In that herd there are breeding mares and stallions  The other herds have a lot of mares and some 'boys' too but these boys are all geldings. The only stallions of each breed are kept at the ranch and when they want to breed a mare in season they take her to the stallion's corral. However, every once in a while they admit that a stallion from the Wild Bunch goes AWOL and pays a visit to a mare in season in a neighboring herd and the have "Ooopsie" births. In such a case the foal will be sold, when it is ready to be separated from Mom, to help support the maintenance of the sanctuary for all the wild horses.... Horses helping Horses.

We also viewed the locations of sacred Native American Ceremonial Sites, which we were asked not to publish any photos taken, so  we are respecting their request. There was also a small cabin which was the Coffee Flats School house (which has recently been restored). And we saw the remains of some of the old homesteads of that area.  One interesting building was a small building which was about the size and looked like a double out house, but in actuality was where the stagecoach would drop off the mail for the homesteaders of that area... a communal mail box, if you will.

Dayton O. Hyde is 6’-5” tall and 92 years old now, but he is still an active part of the sanctuary. However, to prevent the sanctuary’s demise in the future, upon his own, he has created a foundation, the Institute of Range and American Mustangs (I.R.A.M.) to insure its continued legacy of support of the Wild Horses of South Dakota. 
Check out the photos of these beautiful wild animals.

This one is called "Don Juan" (perhaps for obvious reasons) No, really, that's his name.
We think they were either thinking they could get a ride to school, or trying to make a break for it, but as good as they have it there, they were probably just looking for shade. However we later noticed that they like to hang right up against vehicles in general, even our tour SUV.
View of the ranch from the plateau overlook...

There was a flock of wild turkeys all over the place.

This is Kate, an RV full-timer volunteer from California, and our tour guide.
Baby frolicking on the ground

This old girl loved getting attention, but what she really wanted was some horse cake. 
This young boy had an itch on his nose and they'll use anything to scratch (even a mirror).

More wild turkeys. We were told that they tried to eat one for the staff on Thanksgiving one year, but these birds take on the flavor of what they eat, so since they eat a  lot  of pine needles... (you got it) that's just what they tasted like.

Several Movies and other national film productions were filmed within this sanctuary:
• Free Spirits Saving America's Wild Horses
​• Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde
• 20/20 "IRAM: Preserving a National Treasure"
• Peoples Magazine 20th Anniversary "Amazing Americans"
• ABC "New Passages"
• Discovery Channel "Wild Things with Margaux Hemmingway"
• PBS "Wild Horses: an American Romance"
• Walt Disney "Hidalgo"
• Turner Network Television "Crazy Horse"
• Paramount Pictures "Into The Wild"
• History Channel "Comanche Warrior","Who Killed Crazy Horse"
• Outdoor Channel "Cowboys / Wild Mustangs"
• "Discovering America"
• Adrienne Kitchens / PBS "One Man's Vision"
• Travel Channel "Into the West with Jeff Corwin"
• NHK for Japan Public Broadcasting
• National Geographic / Gruppe Five Productions "America Before Columbus"
• Nature Adventures (Episodes 1 and 2)
• IRAM "Imagine A Place, Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary Sponsor Mustangs"
• IRAM "WE ARE THE LAND: Uranium Mining in the Black Hills" 

These scenes are from movie shoots of "Into the Wild" and "Hidalgo". First is from "Into the Wild" shot at this very building prop with the Indians; and the latter is from the opening scene of the impending Indian massacre on "Hidalgo", both shot on the property of The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. The long center building represented a full sized building but was actually just the front and sides of a building, which Dayton asked the film crew to leave as it was, because the horses like to go under the roof for shade. It is said that the Director would get very miffed due to the horses coming down from the surrounding hills and showing up on his set unannounced, to which Dayton explained that he had to be patient because he was "filming (his) scenes in THEIR living room."  

The winding Cheyenne River referred by the Indians as the Four Rivers, because it flows in all four directions due to its winding back and forth.
This is the vehicle we took on our tour. All vehicles used by the Sanctuary are used and used until they have no further life, then kept for parts. Nothing is wasted at the BHWHS.

You can sponsor your own mustang for just $400/year... and name it too.
 This is the old 'mailbox' where the stagecoach would
leave the mail for the homesteaders of the area.
 How do you like them cowgirl boots?
 Heading down to the watering hole.
At the watering hole...
Walking past Mary with no fear and Mary did not even
know it was there until after it had passed her.
 Another fine stallion... Mr. Freckles.
 "I think he wants to eat my camera."
 It's really quite high up there. 

 "Is anyone in there?"

 The old Coffee Flats School House (restored).
 One of the remaining old homestead properties.
 The Sanctuary Office and Gift Shop.
 These are the full hook-up sites for Volunteers who come up with their RVs.
 A Cabin which they rent out for those that seek peace and quiet, out there.

Pretty 'blue-eyes' foal... with Mama.

Preening each other
 Feeding time


Wild, but sweet and Trusting (the horse I mean)
Actually Mary is sweet and trusting too... and at times can be quite wild.
To see the (short) videos give them a little time to load. (wish the video quality was better.)


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