Friday, July 12, 2024


American cowboy Dayton O. Hyde battled both the law and his neighbors, but he never gave up.

After putting in a lot of time and effort, Hyde founded the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota, which is now home to more than 500 wild Mustangs.

Hyde was born on March 25, 1923. Together with his passion of horses, he is well known as a writer and conservationist.

Hyde started out as a rodeo photographer even before he became a cowboy.

Hyde was a rodeo photographer long before he became a cowboy.

He started his mission to save the wild Mustangs in 1987 when he traveled to Nevada to buy livestock. Hyde arrived and was startled to see wild horses the federal government had captured. Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary published a post on December 24th, 2010.

Hyde felt that corralizing a wild horse, removing it from its natural environment and freedom, was simply too harsh.

Hyde was determined to save these wild Mustangs because he had always loved horses since he was a small child. He built a sanctuary so that these adorable animals might live in freedom.

Yet it was no easy journey, and Hyde had to put up a strong fight to get there.

South Dakota Governor George Mickelson offered to take Hyde see some land there that could be used as a refuge after learning about Hyde’s idea.

The property was located in the Southern Black Hills’ Chilson Canyon next to the Cheyenne River.

Despite substantial opposition from the community and the local authorities, Hyde and Mickelson decided to cooperate and form a partnership.

In the 2013 documentary Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde, Hyde said, “If you’re telling me it couldn’t be done, then that’s the wrong thing to say to a cowboy.” Watch the trailer down below.

When Hyde founded The Institute of Range and the American Mustang (IRAM) in 1988, he took the first steps toward realizing his concept.

The IRAM, a nonprofit company, preserves and guards America’s wild horses. In the fall of that year, horses began to arrive in the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.

One of the first Mustangs to arrive was Prairie Lark, a stunning two-year-old blue roan filly. Together, Hyde and Prairie Lark toured the vast preserve and freed other horses.

The rest of Hyde’s life was then dedicated to these horses. He would work nonstop every day to ensure that the horses could gallop safely in the open, shielding the wild horses from unpredictable futures.

Also, according to Hyde, the sanctuary is staffed “seven days a week; without salary or vacations.” Hyde, who was 93 years old when he died on December 22, 2018, had a full life. The cowboy, the warrior, and “the most dangerous man in American conservation” are some of the nicknames given to him.

Hyde’s influence can still be seen at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. Many Mustangs still roam freely over 11,000 acres of the breathtaking plains of South Dakota.

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A few of the threatened lineages and bands that the IRAM is still working to save include the Spanish, Choctaw Indian, Curly, and American Mustangs.


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