When people think of "rancher relief," the thousands of cattle lost to the storm come to mind, but working those cattle would be impossible without good horses.
Dustin Oedekoven, of The South Dakota Animal Industry Board, says approximately 300 horses were reported lost due to the October storm. But the number could be higher.
So ranchers and breeders alike are using the Black Hills Stock Show as a chance to rebuild.
In one night, Horse Trainer Becky Aimo lost horses and her job. "I just couldn't believe it. I was in absolute shock," said Aimo. "Without those horses our three-year-plan was gone and I consequently had to start looking for new work."
The blizzard killed several horses that Aimo trained, but not her horse "Possum." However, Friday she lost him to the auction block for $6,000. "The money I make off him today will kinda see me through next year and kinda be back-up money while I'm between jobs," said Aimo.
Kerry Papendick, president of the South Dakota Horse Association, says the financial affects of the storm are devastating and lasting. "It takes years to build that up and when you lose those genetics it's gone permanently," said Papendick.
For Patty Brunner, a breeder/trainer/owner, the storm was equally devastating, as she lost some mares, but there was a silver lining. "I do have the four replacement fillies from those four mares. I think the good Lord was looking over me," said Brunner.
At the horse sale, Brunner says she may buy. She says that's a way to rebuild and rebound. "If you want to continue in the business and I don't really want to quit yet," said Brunner.
A reception was held Friday night at the Holiday Inn - Rushmore Plaza so horse people can come together to talk about the blizzard, support each other, and celebrate the Western way of life.