We got up early to drive to the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Hot Springs, Dakota. The Institute of Range and American Mustangs provides a haven for hundreds of wild horses, where they can run around and be free. As lands are developed many wild horses are captured, and either slaughtered or placed in Wild Horse holding facilities. Founded in 1988, the sanctuary saves many of these unwanted horses from death or a life of cramped quarters. Hundreds of horses now roam free over the sanctuary. The founder hoped that one day, people would turn to the wild horses as a way to enrich the diluted gene pool of today’s saught after breeds. The sanctuary houses Mustangs, Painted Horses, Spanish Mustangs, and rare Ceriah’s
Since the horses are more active in the morning, we took the first tour of the place at 9. Arriving early we wandered around the farm a bit, and saw some brand new foals prancing around on toothpick legs with their moms. Our tour guide was a hilarious spitfire of a women, who told us she was going to hit every bump in the road so we would get out money’s worth. Driving out to the horses, she would periodically stop and pull out a plant to show us. She showed us a prairie poppy, whose sap is bright yellow, and told us the Indians used it for face paint. The blossom has narcotic properties that our tour guide said helped them get the nerve for war. She showed us female sage, used for diapers and the home, and male sage used for sweat lodges and ceremonies. We stopped at a ledge to see the solider camp built to film the movie Crazy Horse. Our tour guide said that when they were filming the movie, one of their neighbors stood on the edge of his property with a flask and a rifle, ready to shoot anyone who came close to his property. The sheiff had to go speak to him and he went on a “vacation” after that. She also told us a story about a neighbor who died of lead poisoning, adding that by that of course she meant he was shot.
Soon after we found our first herd of horses. We got to come out of the bus to take pictures. I didn’t think that the horses would let us touch them, but a few came up to smell us. One particular horse seemed to love our bus and kept sticking his head in the door. Continuing on we stopped at the Lokota Sundance site. Every year the local tribes camps out for a week as they pray to their spirits for good things in the new year. They tie pouches of tobacco into brightly colored cloth, and tie them to a cottonwood pole. We also saw the location where the shot the opening scene from the movie Hildago. The next herd we came across had a mare named Champagne Lady and her foal. The herd walked right towards us, and out tour guide warned us not to touch the foal. However the foal kept walking towards me. I took a few steps, not wanting to make the mother nervous I took a few steps back, but the baby came right up to me to smell. I slowly stretched out my hand, and not seeing a reaction from the mom, slowly petted him. He was so cute! We checked out a cliff face with pictoglyphs from the natives who used to live here.The last group of horses we came across was the rare Sorriah of which there is believed to be only 200 left in the world.
We had a long drive through Dakota. In the Black Hills National Park we came across a herd of buffalo just hanging out by the road. One old boy decided he was gonna waltz down the middle of the street. Doug was nervous driving his car around the bull. We drove a few hours in wyoming with absolutely nothing around. Earlier in this trip I remember thinking, I don’t know where they shoot all the western movies. When it’s this flat you can see a telephone pole 3 miles off. Well I can tell you now, they do a lot of it in Wyoming.
We finally reached Montana!!! Had to step outside to take a picture with the sign. As we continued on to Bozeman we could see huge lightening storms in the distance. Once we reached the city, the streets were flooded from a rain storm. We accidentally soaked a poor man with a cane as we drove by him.