By Jim Kent, South Dakota Public Broadcasting
As temperatures plunged across South Dakota, ranchers kept an eye on their cattle and pet owners were advised to keep their best friends warm. Near Hot Springs, we checked in at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to see how the mustang herd faired in the sub-zero cold and snow that hit the area.
Sanctuary spokesperson Terri Engle says getting through South Dakota weather can be difficult for the herd at any time of year.
“But the wild horses that live here…being that they are of mustang descent, they are extremely hearty,” Engle explains. “ They are very smart. They have figured out through time how to protect themselves in extreme weather conditions.”
So, when the mercury dropped below zero and the winds gusted to 40 miles-per-hour, the Wild Horse Sanctuary herd knew just what to do.
“They protect themselves by seeking canyons,” says Engle. “They go down in the deep canyons during high wind. They will seek a wind break, oftentimes down in the canyon or up in the tree line. And they will huddle up there together. You know, they put their tail-end into the wind and they will just stay out like that.”
The Sanctuary’s ranch crew made sure hay was available for the herd, but Terri Engle notes that their key to survival was staying together and staying calm through the deep freeze.
Engle says she’s not aware of any horses in the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary herd that were lost during the recent cold, wind and snow.