Junior is home and doing well!

We are so pleased to let everyone know that Junior came home from the hospital on Monday! He is doing remarkably well, and settling into his new routine at the farm. Our vet was over to check on him this morning and was happy with the way everything looks – his incision/sutures are in great shape and healing nicely, he’s eating and drinking like he should, he’s bright and alert, and all the internal stuff seems to be working properly.
Junior is being extremely reasonable and level-headed about being on stall rest and he’s also adjusting just fine to the fact that he can no longer eat regular hay. This is a relief, since prior to surgery Junior’s favorite thing in the world was his hay. Instead he is getting five small meals of senior feed throughout the day/night along with soaked hay pellets. We’d like to say a special thank-you to Christina with Triple Crown Feed for helping us figure out the best way to feed Junior (based on our veterinarian’s recommendations, of course!) to assure he’s getting the right nutrition and that mealtimes are enriching too.
He is allowed to go on several short walks throughout the day to eat some grass, which he really enjoys. After a month of stall rest he’ll be able to go out in a small paddock on his own, and then after a month of that he can have access to a larger pasture. The contraption you see wrapped around his middle is to help support his abdomen and prevent hernias; he has to wear it for another six weeks and we think if you asked him he would say it’s the worst part about all of this! It’s very itchy. But he’s taking it in stride, just like everything else.
We are so grateful for your support over the last two weeks, from everyone who reached out to check in on our staff and offer prayers and positive energy for Junior’s recovery, our colleagues and partners across the country who have been so kind to share their experience and advice (and sometimes just an understanding ear to vent to), our veterinarians and all of the caregivers at the hospital, and everyone who made a donation towards Junior’s veterinary bills.
Junior still has a long way to go before he is fully recovered from surgery and he will require very specialized care for the rest of his life but so far he’s telling us it’s nothing he can’t handle. We are committed to being there for him every step of the way and will continue to keep everyone posted on his progress.

Junior’s Emergency Surgery

On Saturday morning we noticed that Junior, a resident of the rescue farm, was acting colicky. Because of his history we immediately put an emergency call into our vet, who advised us to give him some painkillers while she started heading our way.
After horses have colic surgery, they are predisposed to developing adhesions on their intestines that can cause irritation. This is actually what sent Junior into surgery for the first time last year, so he was already at high risk. When our vet arrived at the farm, she gave Junior more painkillers, a sedative, and did an internal exam. She could feel an area on his small intestine that seemed to be inflamed and possibly causing strangulation again. An ultrasound confirmed this, so she got us on the road to the emergency hospital in Raleigh.
Upon arrival, the veterinary team began to prep Junior for surgery. At that point there was a concern that Junior might not have enough healthy tissue left to take out what was damaged and repair what remained. We had some very frank discussions about the likelihood of having to euthanize him on the surgery table if they were unable to successfully operate. We said our goodbyes and they took him into surgery around 4pm. After about an hour, the vet came out and told us they were optimistic they could repair the damage. But, after this operation, Junior would not have enough small intestine left to do any further surgeries. They assured us it was still worth operating, so we gave them the go ahead to do everything they could to save Junior.

Junior coming off the transport trailer at NC State

Junior arriving at NC State

He made it through surgery and recovery just fine, and has been stable and comfortable since Saturday evening. He is still not out of the woods, but his intestines are working like they’re supposed to, he’s bright and alert, his vitals are normal, and he’s happily eating as much feed as he’s allowed to have. As of today, Junior has been moved out of intensive care and taken off fluids, and is gradually being taken off all medication. We’re not sure how long Junior will be hospitalized, but we are tentatively planning on going to visit him towards the end of this week.
Junior is going to have a long recovery ahead of him, but based on how well he handled it last time we are sure he’ll settle right back into the routine with no problem. But for right now we are taking things day by day, and celebrating every positive update we get from the vets.
He is a remarkably strong, smart, tough horse – a fighter, just like all of his ancestors that came before him. We will continue to do everything we can to provide Junior the support and care that he needs to survive and have a high quality of life moving forward, but this does come at a cost. If you’d like to help with Junior’s substantial veterinary bills you can make a donation on Junior’s Donation Page of our website: https://www.corollawildhorses.com/one-time-donation…/
We’d like to thank our veterinary team both here at home and at NC State College of Veterinary Medicine & Veterinary Hospital. It’s hard to put into words how grateful we are for the care and respect you consistently show all of our horses, and the support you provide to our staff as we navigate these difficult situations.
We will continue to update everyone on Junior’s progress. Thank you for your donations, your prayers and positive energy, and the trust you have in us to do what’s best for him.

We are so proud of Meg, our Director of Herd Management!

We are so proud to share that Meg, our wonderful Director of Herd Management, has been recognized as a 2023 Southerner of the Year by Southern Living!
Meg’s dedication to the Banker horses inspires us at the Fund every day. She is incredibly hard-working and an invaluable part of our team. We cannot think of someone more deserving of this recognition!
Thank you, Meg, for everything you do for the wild horses, the rescued horses, your colleagues, and the community. We are honored to work alongside you, serving the Fund’s mission to protect and preserve our beautiful horses.
From Southern Living:

Meet The 2023 Southerners Of The Year

The trailblazers supporting and preserving our region’s people, places, and tradition

Corolla Wild Horse Fund

Corolla, North Carolina

As the herd manager for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF), Meg Puckett is the face of the most famous herd on the Outer Banks. It’s a big job. Since 2016, she’s been on call 24-7, though she says she loves every “sweaty, heartbreaking” moment of it. The Banker mustangs have become her life, and working with them means so much to her that she sometimes struggles to speak about it without crying.

Preserving these treasured animals amid an endless stream of tourists is a complicated dance. Puckett likes to say that “it takes a village,” but it also takes education, which is where Facebook comes in. She uses CWHF’s page to provide an unfiltered look at all that goes into caring for the more than 100 wild horses, as well as the struggles they face on a daily basis. It’s not always pretty, but that is often the point.

Puckett considers the fund’s ongoing program with the Equus Survival Trust to be her greatest accomplishment on behalf of the herd. CWHF collects DNA to be processed and analyzed to better understand the breed and its 500-year history. They’ve even mapped out family trees and, with help from NC State University, started a sperm bank.

In just a few years, this research has elevated the work of CWHF in the eyes of the scientific community. As Puckett puts it, these animals have always been special, but now there’s proof. With this data, CWHF can accomplish its goals of maintaining the mustangs’ natural environment and keeping them wild. Puckett says, “The research has established them as an endangered breed worth saving.”

The original article containing the full list of incredible Southerners Of The Year can be found here:

Blossom is doing great!

We wanted to give everyone an update on Blossom – she is doing great!
She’s gained some weight over the last few weeks, and her torn ligament seems to be healing well. She’s considerably more sound now and settling into life at the farm. We’ve been working on teaching her to lead, which is a little tricky since she’s on restricted movement. But slow and steady wins the race, and she’s coming along really nicely. She is such a sensible, sweet old mare. We’re glad we can provide her with a safe, quiet place to live out the rest of her days.
Thanks so much to everyone who has contributed towards her vet bills and other care – we are so appreciative of the support! If you missed the post explaining what happened to Blossom and why she was removed from the wild, you can read about it here: https://www.facebook.com/100064552759707/posts/698836058944813/?mibextid=cr9u03
Chris Winter - New CWHF CEO

Corolla Wild Horse Fund Announces Appointment of New Chief Executive Officer


COROLLA, NC – The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Chris Winter as Chief Executive Officer, effective July 31, 2023.

Founded in 2001, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund’s nonprofit mission is to protect, conserve, and responsibly manage the herd of Corolla wild horses (Bankers) roaming freely on the northernmost Currituck Outer Banks, and to promote the continued preservation of this land as a permanent sanctuary for horses designated as the State Horse and defined as a cultural treasure by the state of North Carolina.

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund’s staff, programs, expansion, and execution of the Fund’s mission and desired impact. The CEO will adhere to the Fund’s Strategic Action Plan and the implementation of the Wild Horse Management Agreement. As CEO, Chris will represent the Fund to the public, fostering important partnerships with key organizations, all government agencies, community and business leaders, and other relevant stakeholders. Through his work, Chris will develop and execute comprehensive fundraising strategies.

Spending much of his career in the nonprofit world, Chris Winter brings more than 11 years of nonprofit executive-level experience to the position. Most recently, Chris was President and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern North Carolina. Before Make-A-Wish, Chris worked as the Director of Development for Living Water International. This faith-based nonprofit organization helps communities in developing countries to create sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene programs. Chris cares about the world around him and will bring exciting new energy to the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

“We are confident Chris can guide the Fund into the future, expand our resources, improve our programs, and continue to help the wild Banker horses of Corolla thrive for generations to come.” – Kimberlee Hoey, Corolla Wild Horse Fund Chairman of the Board.

Corolla Wild Horse Fund

Your support in action – seven interconnected paddocks

At the beginning of the year, we identified areas around our rescue farm that would benefit from new and/or updated fencing. Based on current priorities and needs, we decided to start with building additional paddocks off the back of the barn. This provided us with more space for horse intake, quarantine, and medical care. We now have seven paddocks that are all interconnected but can also be closed off, along with an alley down the middle that will allow us to unload and shift horses without having to handle them. We can now move wild horses much easier and more safely and have far more flexibility when we must house horses that need specialized care due to medical or behavioral issues (or often both).

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The fencing consists of wooden posts with wire mesh so that even the wildest horse cannot get through it. This prevents horses from having nose-to-nose contact in quarantine situations, and the fence is tall enough to prevent any of the horses from thinking they could jump over it. While we don’t ever want to have to use these areas, because that means we have sick horses and/or horses that have been taken out of the wild, we need to have the infrastructure in place because when we need it, we really need it. Our next significant project will be replacing fencing around the large pastures that house the mares!

Rest Easy, Cora Mae. Your Legacy Lives On.

Around 7:30 this morning we received a call from a resident about a horse that had been struck by a vehicle. After arriving on the scene our veterinarian determined that the mare, named Cora Mae, had fractured her tibia in multiple places. She was humanely euthanized.
The driver of the vehicle also notified the sheriff’s department and a deputy was dispatched. Statements were taken and a report was filed, but please understand that this was truly a terrible accident and all parties involved are devastated. We ask that people please be respectful as all of us – including the driver of the vehicle – cope with this loss.
Cora Mae was in her teens, and one of the top producing mares on the beach. In recent years, she foaled Liberty, Valor, Riptide, Bravo, and Cosmos. She was an excellent mother and her offspring are all extremely well-bred. Cora’s loss will have a significant, lasting impact on the wild population.
There is some comfort in knowing that Liberty, Bravo, and Cosmos are still in the wild and will hopefully sire their own foals in the coming years. Riptide was removed from the wild in 2020 when he contracted pythiosis, and now lives on the CWHF farm on the mainland. At four years old, he is our best ambassador/outreach horse, has been started under saddle, and we have plans to potentially breed him next year. We sadly lost Valor in 2020 at the age of two due to an infected tendon sheath.
Cosmos turns a year old on September 15 and while this isn’t the way we like to see foals weaned, he is old enough to survive on his own. He is still with his dad Surfer who will take excellent care of him as long as they stick together. We will be keeping a very close eye on him and will intervene if it seems like he’s struggling, but as of right now we are hopeful that he will acclimate just fine.
We’d like to thank everyone who helped us take care of Cora Mae today. We are so grateful for the quick, compassionate response from our community, our staff, and our veterinarian.
You were a good girl, Cora Mae. Rest easy now. 💜

Rest Free, Thicket.

Yesterday morning we received a call about a horse that had not moved in some time, and was not bearing any weight on his front left leg. One of our staff went to the location and found 9-year-old stallion Thicket as reported. He was unable to put any weight on his leg and was unwilling to move. Our staff person also noticed pieces of a vehicle (shards of plastic from a turn signal, and pieces of plastic fender) on the road next to Thicket.
We immediately sent photos and video to our vet, and then reached out to the sheriff’s department. While we consulted with the vet, deputies went to the location and spoke with the people occupying nearby houses and examined the site of the incident. Unfortunately, none of the houses had outdoor security cameras and no one witnessed anything the night before.
Meanwhile, under the direction of our vet, we made the decision to capture and remove Thicket from the wild to further assess what was obviously a very serious injury. He was sedated once inside the trailer to make the trip a bit easier for him, and taken to the CWHF farm on the mainland. Once there, he was given pain medication and an anti-inflammatory and put into a quiet stall with hay, water, and a fan. Today x-rays confirmed our fear – that Thicket had badly fractured his elbow. This was consistent with the trauma we suspected, as were multiple, significant lacerations on his shoulder and face. The height and location of these injuries were also consistent with a vehicle impact. Due to the severity of the injuries and concerns for his quality of life, we made the decision to euthanize Thicket.
We will probably never know who hit Thicket, or why they didn’t call 911 to report it so that we could have responded sooner. We hope that it was truly an accident; that it wasn’t due to alcohol or reckless driving. But to be honest, we keep asking ourselves what kind of person could hurt a horse that badly and then just leave them there to suffer?
Thicket was a young stallion in the prime of his life, and in the last year had obtained a harem of four mares. It takes a lot of strength, maturity, and good instincts to be a successful harem stallion. Not all of them are capable of it. We were so proud of him, and excited about the prospect of new foals. It’s a devastating loss for the herd, and heartbreaking for those of us who have watched Thicket grow up.
These horses face so many natural challenges that we can’t control; it’s critical that we don’t add to those challenges with things we can control. It is up to every person who sets foot on the 4×4 beach to be responsible, respectful, and law-abiding. Your actions have consequences that are more far-reaching than you’ve probably ever imagined. How many future generations of Banker horses died with Thicket today? We can’t afford to lose a single member of this endangered herd due to human irresponsibility.
Please slow down. Please do not feed or pet the horses. Please call 911 immediately if you witness horses in danger or distress.
Rest free, Thicket. 💔

Welcome, Drifiter!

Welcome foal #6! This colt is about 24 hours old, and both he and his dam are in excellent shape. She is a very experienced and attentive mother. We’ve chosen the name Drifter for this little guy.
This mare was the mother of Ceres, the filly we lost to pythium last fall, so Drifter is quite special. 💜
Please give the horses plenty of space! Do not crowd them if you’re lucky enough to see them on the beach like this. It’s hot and buggy, and added stress can cause physical problems and also negatively impact mare/foal bonding.

Welcome to the world, Donner!

This perfect little colt was born on Monday and we’ve been keeping it quiet since his parents have been staying back in the woods out of sight. But some good news would be nice right about now. So, join us in welcoming foal #4 to the herd! He was born as thunderstorms were rolling into the area so we’ve chosen the name Donner (thunder) for him. His mother is very experienced and both she and Donner are in great shape. With the exception of Drum, 2023 seems to be the year of the chestnuts so far!

Please remember to give all the horses, but especially foals, plenty of space. They need time and room to bond with their families and learn the rules of the wild. Foals are impressionable and can habituate quickly so it’s important to admire them from a distance. These horses face so many natural challenges that we can’t control, so it’s critical that we humans don’t make things unnecessarily hard for them.