International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros
By Matthew McCormack
My trip to the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) in Lantry, SD was absolutely incredible. I shared this unique and extraordinaryhorse trip with my sister, Molly, from July 6-10, 2012. We cherished every moment at the nation’s oldest wild horse and burro organization, founded in 1960.
The President of the ISPMB, Karen Sussman, picked Molly and me up at the airport in Rapid City, SD. As we rode in the pickup truck for two and a half hours to the ranch, we saw the rolling hills and plains of South Dakota. We also talked and shared laughs along the way.
As the three of us drove on the dirt road leading into the ranch, we saw magnificent herds of wild horses. Shortly after settling into Karen’s ranch home with our suitcases, it was time for Molly and me to get outside and embrace the wild horses. Not only was Karen welcoming but so was her staff and volunteers. The organization has three employees and two volunteers. The people at the ISPMB are very passionate about improving the lives of wild horses and burros.
Gina and Kirsten, the two volunteers at the sanctuary, shared many stories with Molly and me about their backgrounds and how they became interested in wild horses. Gina is from Austria, and Kirsten is from Germany.
There is never a dull moment at the ISPMB. Most of the day involves taking care of the more than 400 horses that roam on 680 acres. I saw, for instance, a young stud trying to breed with another horse after getting out of his pen. Another horse accidentally got his leg caught in the gate. Each time, however, Karen and the volunteers handled the situation in a calm and productive manner.
On the trip, I fell in love with a foal that is part of the Virginia Range herd. Around the end of June, a colt was born with sepsis. Karen nor the veterinarian with whom she consults was sure why the foal was born with this disease. As a result of sepsis which affects the joints, the little one cannot stand. He has one knot about the size of a tennis ball on each of his two back legs near the hooves. Every hour this baby needed to be administered milk because he could not stand to retrieve the milk from Mom. So every hour, either Gina or Kirsten would walk down to the barn and provide the foal with milk. I, along with Molly, Karen, and the two volunteers exercised and massaged his muscles. This little one may or may not survive. Karen is not sure what kind of a chance the boy has for survival.
| Matthew, his sister Molly and foal born with "sepsis" a disease which affects the joints. He was lovingly named Hoof Prince Chance Thunderheart with hopes for his survival.
You might be thinking, “What is the colt’s name?” Usually the nonprofit does not name a newborn if there is a chance the animal may not survive. The organization does not want to become too attached to a sick newborn. However, Molly and I had the honor to name the colt. Throughout our stay at the ranch, Molly and I thought of names and searched the web for names that would fit the brown-colored horse.
The two of us selected the name Hoof Prince Chance. This name carries much significance. We picked “Hoof” because all of us want his back legs and hooves to improve so he can stand and walk. We selected “Prince” because the little one deserves to be treated royally like he is being treated. We chose “Chance” because we hope the colt has a strong chance for survival. We called the little boy “Chance” for short.
Gina and Kirsten also decided on a name to add to the name that Molly and I chose. The two women picked the name Thunderheart. This name was chosen because of the boy’s strength and will to survive. So the colt’s full name is Hoof Prince Chance Thunderheart. We all became very close to the precious newborn.