Doomed wild horses find new life at Black Hills Sanctuary

Good News Notes:

You might be surprised to find out one of the premier wild horse sanctuaries in the country is located in South Dakota.

Portions of movies, like Hidalgo and Into the Wild were even filmed there.

Hundreds of horses and ponies roam the land South of Hot Springs. No barns or outbuildings, they live in the open, under the sun.

They eat the wild grasses and drink from the stream that runs through the land. They are wild, and survive as a herd with leaders and followers, just like their ancestors hundreds of years ago.

The Black Hills Wild Horse sanctuary came to be in 1987. Governor George Mickelson invited author and conservationist Dayton Hyde to South Dakota and helped him set up the sanctuary which now encompasses 11,000 acres.

Susan Watt joined the effort in the mid-’90s and now runs the non-profit.

“So these are a few of our rescue horses that we took in in October,” Watt says as she drives her Suburban onto a section of land filled with horses.

One of the rescues produced a welcome little surprise for the staff. Look closely at the ears on this foal.

This is a Molly.

This little filly’s father is a donkey and her mother is a horse, making Molly a mule. Watt says the herd on the sanctuary is made up of all kinds of horses.

“We have Spanish Horses, curling Horses, Choctaw Indian ponies, America Mustangs, Spanish Mustangs, Sulfer Mustangs, all kinds of horses.”

Horses are social animals and like all groups there are disagreements. But Watt calls this a happy place.

“This is a place of healing, for horses that have been pushed around harassed threatened, their lives threatened, a lot of the horses here were already on the slaughter bus, headed to slaughter in the truck,” said Watt.

The sanctuary has suspended public tours. If you get lucky you can see some of the horses from the Cheyenne River bridge next to the property. To see the horses in all their wild beauty you need to become a donor or sponsor.

Running a sanctuary of this size is not cheap….”

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