What’s Your Passion?

Passion. As authors we often have it in spades. Whether it’s about politics, quilting, or organic foods, there is generally something we feel strongly about. And it’s always interesting to learn of others’ passions, whether similar or wildly different.

For instance, I spent last week in the Black Hills of South Dakota, one of my favorite places in the world. My husband and I hauled a couple of our horses nearly 600 miles so we could explore the Hills from our saddles.

While we were there I was charged by a buffalo, took 154 pictures of wildlife (antelope, wild burros, bison, etc.) and marveled at the inky night sky. Did you know there is still a Milky Way?

But I digress. What I want to talk about is the Wild Horse Sanctuary near Hot Springs. http://www.wildmustangs.com/

I had never been there before, but had heard the story of a man named Dayton Hyde. He had a dream, a passion, if you will, for all things wild and for horses in particular. He had visited the Bureau of Land Management and seen how they were treating the mustangs that were in their care. Basically the animals lived in a feed lot and were getting just enough fodder for them to subsist on. They looked, he said, “depressed.” Moved to make a better life for them, he worked out a deal with the governor. If Dayton could find a space for them and find sponsorships, the government would pay $1 a horse per day for him to care for the animals. So, after a fairly extensive search, he bought some land in South Dakota. In fact, he bought 13,000 acres. Just so you don’t have to do the math, that’s more than 16 square miles…a veritable equine paradise of rugged, rocky, gorgeous country. Most of which is dedicated to the Spanish Mustang, the horse directly descended from the mounts brought here by the Conquistadors back in the 15th century.

You see, although the horse first originated in North America 48 million years ago (when they were about the size of a dog) the species became extinct here after they crossed the ice bridge into Asia. But when the Conquistadors came to this continent they brought their horses with them. Horses that had been bred to be hardy and aggressive in battle, horses with zebra striping on their legs. (You’ll see them if you look closely at some of the pictures.) Horses with attitude and intellect and natural camouflage. Some of those horses escaped and formed herds that lived, mostly undisturbed, for the past few hundreds of years. These are the horses Dayton Hyde felt compelled to save.

Perhaps Mr. Hyde is a very wealthy man. (He IS the author of 17 books, after all, and everyone knows all authors are rich.) I’m not sure what his circumstances were. But even at the age of 84, he is obviously one of those people who knows how to get things done…how to make things happen. He has a passion for horses, for the environment, for justice and lives right there on the property. As for the 600 horses he cares for, they‘re supported by donations, tours and the sale of foals. Me, I’m not brave enough to ‘take home a living piece of the west’ as they call it. But it was a thrill to be allowed to view a little bit of living history.

So, passion, most of us have a cause we feel strongly about. Something that twangs our heart strings What’s yours?

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14 Responses to What’s Your Passion?

  1. Great photos! I'd love to see pronghorns in the wild like that. And the horses, of course. What an amazing story. I keep thinking if I won the lottery, I could do something fantastic for the environment, but I guess all it really takes is a lot of passion and grit to plow through all the crap and get the job done. Great trip, Lois!

  2. Cindy Gerard says:

    Oh, Lois, you make me long for a trip west. It's been a long time since we've been to the Black hills. We were there once in Oct when they were rounding up the buffalo herd and inoculating them and various things. it was so interesting to watch.As for passions. I'm very passionate about music, animals, pizza and chocolate :o)

  3. lois greiman says:

    I know what you mean, Marilyn. I always think it takes tons of money to make a difference, but it probably only takes drive.

  4. lois greiman says:

    Cindy, the buffalo are ammmmazing aren't they?

  5. What a fabulous story of how one man can make a difference. I've seen the buffalo in Yellowstone and the park rangers kept warning everyone they could charge and to stay away from them. They aren't called "wild" animals for nothing. Custer State Park has the wild donkeys though they've been around people so much they'll stick their heads right into your open car window and eat out of your hand. My boys loved that.Right now I'm just passionate about me and getting my life in order.Marilyn

  6. lois greiman says:

    The wild burros really are fun. They aren't native to the area, so apparently they have a little trouble with the winters, so even the park rangers end up feeding them. As for getting your life together, Marilyn, good luck with that! I'm afraid there's not much hope for me.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What a great trip! Never been to the Black Hills, but one of these days SOON, I'm going!There's always hope Lo, and you have more drive than most people I know put together. Besides…wouldn't a put together life be boring? Colleen

  8. Debra Dixon says:

    I loved seeing the photos!Here is proof that passion coupled with action creates something brilliant.We all need to remember that sometimes, I think. The action part is so important. We can't always take the big actions but we need to take *some* action everyday for those things we're passionate about.Makes for a very full day, but then that makes for a very full life.(Apparently I need to go write some sort of inspirational self-help book because I'm so high-falutin' and advice-y today. LOL!)

  9. As an animal lover I absolutely love to hear stories like these. I, too, wish I could win the lottery so that I could buy enough land to use as a haven for all the unwanted dogs & cats. Love & Hugs,Pam

  10. GunDiva says:

    I'm so jealous of your trip and your story about the wild horse sanctuary is amazing. I love it when people can act on their passion – most of us hobble ourselves (I know I do) and can't make those kinds of things happen.

  11. Helen Brenna says:

    Sounds like you had an amazing trip, Lois, and the pics are amazing!I have no idea what I'm passionate about.My kids, I think. And writing, for now. Health, most of the time.But Deb makes a good point about the action part. It's what makes all the diff.

  12. Lovely post, Lois!I have a particular passion for really old castles. The sad part is that I've never seen one in real life. :(Someday.:)G.

  13. catslady says:

    Besides books, cats. I love all animals but 14 years ago a mama cat and 3 kittens ended up on my back porch eating popcorn I had left out for the birds – I don't know how many I've found homes for and then learned to trap them, have them fixed, and some got new homes, some went back out and some I kept (I have 6 inside at the moment) and 3 fixed females have been there for 12-14 yrs. and many more have come and gone (especially males). I do what I can and wish it could be more. I just don't understand how people can just abandon or not take care of their animals. I'm still grieving for a little one this January that showed up. By the time it came to me and I found out it had pneumonia, even the vet couldn't help 😦

  14. Lois, thanks so much for the story and photos. I'm a lover of the Dakotas, where there stars at night are big and bright, and horses. I hope to pay a visit to the sanctuary someday soon. I've read about it, and it inspired my fictional wild horse sanctuary in two (at least) upcoming books: ONE COWBOY, ONE CHRISTMAS and COOL HAND HANK (Dec and Feb respectively).

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