Institute of Range and the American Mustang

Board of Directors

Dayton O. Hyde (IRAM Founder) 1988 - 2018

Dayton Hyde is a rancher, photographer, essayist and author of 20 books, including “Sandy”, "Don Coyote”, “Yamsi” and “The Pastures of Beyond”. Dayton has been called a rancher’s rancher and a naturalist’s naturalist. He is a man whose wonderful observations bring home the powerful fact that a human being is responsible to the land and is not its master. All his life his curiosity has compelled him to learn all he could about every creature inhabiting the land he nurtures. As a result, he has become an exceptional self-trained naturalist whose experiences enrich us all.


In 1987 Dayton Hyde’s passion for preserving land and his dream of creating a sanctuary for unwanted wild horses made the news and captured the attention of the South Dakota Governor, George Mickelson.  Invited by the Governor to come to South Dakota to see an available piece of the Southern Black Hills, the Dayton’s dream of a Sanctuary found a home.


The Institute of Range and the American Mustang (IRAM) was founded by Dayton Hyde and plans to start the Sanctuary in the Southern Black Hills were begun.


Thirty years later IRAM’s, Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, an 11,000-acre ranch in is home to hundreds of wild horses and other native wildlife. Today the Sanctuary is now managed by Susan Watt and the ranch staff. 

Susan W. Watt (President and Executive Director)

An Alabama native, Susan Watt came to South Dakota in 1995 with a passion for the wild horses. With a background in Education and Business she has been the Program Development Director for IRAM’s Tourism and Educational programs for the past 23 years.


Susan’s goals for the Sanctuary include developing a sustainable habitat where wild horses can live a quality life of freedom. The wild horse preservation program developed for rare or endangered mustangs is IRAM’s conservation effort to save these primitive bloodlines. Some of these special groups include Spanish Mustangs, Curly Mustangs, Choctaw Indian Ponies and American Mustangs. The newest arrivals to the Sanctuary are the Adobe Town Appys and a family band from the Sulphur Springs Herd Management Area. Susan Watt has been an IRAM Board Member since 2006.

Randall Wright (Director)

Randall Wright is a Pierre South Dakota real estate broker who is now retired. He was introduced to Dayton Hyde by the late South Dakota Governor George Michelson to help IRAM put together 11,000 acres of great horse range in the Black Hills.


Randy has served as IRAM’s advisor in Pierre, the capitol of South Dakota, on legislative matters since 1988. Growing up on a ranch in South Dakota his local ranching background continues to be a valuable asset and friend to the Sanctuary. Randy Wright has been an IRAM Board Member since 2012.