Thursday, May 2, 2013

Dream, Reach, Share & Fuzzy Faces

Prairie Lonesome with her friendship group

The last couple days have been busy, trying to see what we can in the Black Hills area of South Dakota.  A cabin that is charming, but without internet access, is a nice break and it’s a great excuse to go to Legion Lake Lodge where they have Wi-Fi, the staff is welcoming, and the Kansas City chef is turning out awesome food.  So, over a lunch of a fabulous chicken noodle soup and a chicken salad sandwich, it’s a great time to post a little update.  

Tuesday was a day of dream sharing at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.  You can read the more detailed account of the Sanctuary at www.gwtc.net, but I want to provide a short version of what this place is and how it got started.  Twenty five years ago, a rancher was out looking for cattle when he saw wild horses gathered into feed lots.  These horses, built to run in wide pastures, were hemmed into very tight spots and were being maintained but no more.  These native horses are rare and protected by federal law.  But, what do you do with them?  Most towns can’t handle a herd of wild horses running down the street; instead they were gathered into feed lots to be maintained – a sight that broke this rancher’s heart.  He had a dream of seeing the horses run free; able to be wild and living healthy lives out in the open.  Dayton Hyde, the rancher, did not leave this at a dream.  Instead, he engaged in a fight with the government to be able to open a sanctuary for the horses.  It took three years of work to make this dream come alive, many battles with naysayers and doubters, and many months of fence building to hold the original herd.  After the first four miles of fence were up, the first herd of horses arrived.  Some new horses are still arriving today.  Now, the sanctuary is spread out over several thousand acres, and provides homes to mustangs, paints, quarter horses, a retired Marine horse, and a few of the extremely rare Choctaw horses.  Dayton Hyde had a dream, reached for it, and then shared with others.  Today, a staff works to maintain this place for the horses and to share the stories and the horses with visitors.
Painted Desert's blue eyes

On a tour with a "retired" rancher, Mark, to see the horses, the view of the ranch included wonderful views, turkey, meadow larks, a burrowing owl, and of course the beautiful horses.  Out enjoying their morning breakfast, tails and manes were blowing in the wind, a welcome relief to blow off the flies.  The buffalo grass is stubby and looks like it would be a thin meal.  Mark assured me that it actually contains a lot of nutrition for the animals eating off of the land.  Loving the horses and the land as he does, it was a great chance to see this special place through a rancher’s eyes.  Small white Easter lilies and bright yellow pea pod flowers are starting to bloom on the grasses, lending polka dot patches of color to the grass and sandy soil.  The horses roam in their pastures, beautiful and able to run as they would like within their sanctuary area.

It is such a beautiful spot, but even more of a landmark to me as this was a dream that was given life and took off, through hard work and hard times, good work and good times.  It is the belief of a dream that is reached for and shared with others, a very powerful thing.
Black Bear on the logs
The fuzzy faces of bears were a highlight yesterday.  Bear USA is home to dozens of beautiful black bears.  Round bellies, shiny coats, and stretching off the long winter’s sleep, the bears are roaming in their habitat.  One splashed in a pool, especially when another bear offered to get in.  Another found a spot that would be the perfect nap spot in the sun, tucked into the intersection of a few large logs and snoozing happily away.  I had to share just a quick photo because even though these are extremely powerful animals and quite wild, they look just adorable with their fuzzy faces.  Just like great big teddy bears....
Tank the Grizzly Bear