Announcement of New Program: PORCH PICK-UP

As North Carolina has moved into Phase 2 of a 3-phase approach to slowly lift and ease restrictions while combatting COVID-19 in order to protect visitors and North Carolinians alike, we find that we still do not have the space capacity that would allow us to welcome visitors inside of our facility without limiting this capacity to such a small number that it would encumber the resources of the Fund drastically. Moreover, Phase 2 does call for museums to remain closed.

We have, however, come up with an idea that may, we hope, offer visitors a way to “shop” our gift shop locally, purchase any item that we presently have, and support our mission as they generally look forward to doing when visiting each year. We’re calling it Porch Pick-up and are fashioning it like the curb-side pick-ups many of you have seen some restaurants doing for take-out.

As most of you know, we have an online store that features select items that are sold in our gift shop. These items are the ones that we can readily ship across the country. However, for Porch Pick-up, we will be offering all the items that are in our store since we do not have the constraint that shipping can sometimes pose. We will be adding these additional items to the online store in the coming days. When purchasing any item for Porch Pick-up, just select the Local Pick-up option for shipping.

We will start this new program on Monday, June 1st. Initially, we will offer pick-up just a couple of days per week because we are still social distancing amongst ourselves too and it will give us the time to get your order together.

If you place an online order for pick-up on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday by 12 noon, you will be able to pick up your order on our porch between 2pm and 4pm Monday afternoon. Orders submitted Monday afternoon thru Wednesday at 12 noon will be available for pick-up on Wednesday between 2pm and 4pm. And orders submitted Wednesday afternoon thru Friday at 12 noon will be ready for pick-up on the porch on Friday between 2pm and 4pm.

We will also accept orders by phone (252-453-8002) on select days and times. Please call us Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 10am and 12 noon and we will be able to arrange for your pick-up order.

We are excited to offer this new program and hope that it will be a way that we can continue to be connected to the wild horses’ supporters while we get through these challenging times! Staying apart brings us together.


Ancestors of Outer Banks wild horses landed in Currituck 500 years ago

By Jeff Hampton

Virginian-Pilot – May 26, 2020

Spanish explorers landed in Currituck County 500 years ago looking for gold, a good port and maybe a place to settle. When they found nothing that worked for them, they sailed for other lands.

In the process, however, they left behind some small, sturdy horses that were able to thrive in the harsh habitat — and become one of the Outer Banks’ biggest tourist attractions.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund and the Museum of the Albemarle are making exhibits and producing an online video to commemorate the arrival of the famous horses, said Don Pendergraft, director of regional museums for the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

They are also working with Currituck-based Sanctuary Vineyards to produce a wine named for Pedro de Quexoia, the Spanish explorer who first came here. A percentage of sales will go to education programs at the museum, he said.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is taking DNA samples from about 100 horses roaming the Currituck beaches and a farm in Grandy, where many retire after they can no longer live in the wild.

The plan is to create a genealogy chart for each horse and breed some of the horses on the Grandy farm, said Jo Langone, chief operating officer of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

DNA tests taken years ago confirmed Spanish ancestry, but sampling did not include the entire herd, she said.

“This is more validation,” Langone said.

Even Raymond the mule, who lived with the wild horses until he retired last year to the farm, has Spanish mustang ancestry from his mother, said Meg Puckett, manager of the Corolla wild horse herd.

The Corolla horses are short and sturdy with unique bones in their vertebra and legs that make them strong like Spanish mustangs.

Puckett has tried to separate history from myth as much as possible while researching the wild horse’s history.

Spanish law required the explorers bring horses to the new world, Puckett said. They later raised horses on ranches in Central and South America. The DNA tests are showing that the horses hail from Spanish ranches in the 1500s and some came from wrecks of Spanish ships off the coast, Puckett said.

The genetics are nearly pure, despite the occasional mix with domestic horses over the decades. Locals once farmed on the Outer Banks, she said.

The Spanish came here a few times with their horses.

De Quexoia sailed to Currituck and planted a flag in 1520, more than 60 years before the English arrived, Pendergraft said. Not much else is known except he did not stay long. In some accounts, his name is de Quejo.

“The Spanish in North Carolina is a little known subject since history is more related to England and the Lost Colony,” Pendergraft said.

A few years later, the Spanish established a temporary colony near what is now Cape Fear River, he said.

“The colony failed in much the same circumstances as the Lost Colony,” he said.

The Spanish returned to the region in the 1560s, creating outposts on the Baya de Santa Maria — the name for the Chesapeake Bay and the North Carolina sounds, said Currituck historian Barbara Snowden.

A group led by Pedro de Coronas landed in Currituck County in 1566 and explored for days before departing, according to the North Carolina Museum of History.

In 1567, a group of Spaniards built a fort in western North Carolina marking the earliest European settlement in the interior of the United States, Pendergraft said. Natives attacked and destroyed the fort.

The Spanish gave way to the English by the late 1500s, when Sir Walter Raleigh sent his expeditions across the Atlantic Ocean — including the party that became known as The Lost Colony.

John Lawson called the Outer Banks horses “well shaped and swift” in 1701, according to a history on the Corolla Wild Horse Fund website.

Historian Edmund Ruffin recorded seeing them in 1856.

“They are capable of great endurance of labor and hardship, and live so roughly that any others from abroad seldom live a year on such food and other such great exposure,” he wrote.

They are much the same today, Langone said.

“They are so fascinating,” she said. “They represent so much of the American spirit.”

Correction: An original version of this story had a different spelling for Baya de Santa Maria.

Jeff Hampton, 252-491-5272,

Care and Management – Removing a Horse From the Wild (or not)

Our post about Valor yesterday generated a lot of discussion about why we remove horses from the beach, what motivates that decision, and the reasons why a horse cannot be returned to the wild once it’s removed. Today we’ll try to answer those questions and provide some examples of other ways we manage and care for the horses. 

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that these decisions do not happen in a vacuum. Before removing any horse, our veterinarian is consulted, our board of directors is notified, and protocols set forth in the Wild Horse Management Agreement are followed. Our trainer and herd manager have nearly 70 combined years of experience working with horses, and we never hesitate to reach out to other wildlife professionals for input and advice. Even during an intense emergency situation like Valor’s, these phone calls are made and proper procedures are followed at all times. 

Removing a horse from the wild is not a decision that we take lightly. It’s the last-resort option and the decision is only made when it’s clear the horse is suffering from catastrophic, fatal injury or illness that prevents it from keeping up with its family group, traveling to fresh water, and/or eating. If the condition is being caused by end-of-life complications (failing teeth, arthritis, etc.) we do our best to monitor the horse but allow it to live out its life naturally. We will intervene and humanely euthanize in the field when it becomes clear the horse is needlessly suffering and clearly not going to recover. 

Why can’t a horse be returned to the wild once it’s removed? The Corolla herd is not vaccinated. Due to the isolation of the herd, it is naturally protected from disease spread by domestic horses. No domestic livestock is allowed into the horses’ habitat, and once we put a horse on a trailer and take it across the cattle guard, it is considered domestic livestock. Once at the farm, the horse is exposed to vaccinated horses (even though horses are quarantined for 30 days…disease can still spread) and could potentially pick up something easily treated in captivity (an upper respiratory infection, for example), that would be devastating should it spread to the wild herd. Horses removed from the beach are vaccinated as soon as it is safe to do so (Valor has already been vaccinated). 

Horses that are removed from the wild require intensive, hands-on treatment and receive a crash course in domestication. Valor is already enjoying being scratched and pet, she is not leery of humans anymore at all, and she is being fed and offered fresh water regularly. Removing her from the wild and then keeping her isolated and only interacting with her for medical treatment would be incredibly inhumane. Additionally, it’s highly unlikely Valor would be easily accepted back into her family group if she were returned to the wild after months of treatment at the farm. The stress of a transition like that could very easily kill a horse.

It’s also important not to anthropomorphize wild animals. They do not process emotions in the same way that humans do, and assuming so can be very harmful. Horses, like most animals, are very good at living in the moment as long as their basic needs are being met. A healthy, enriched, horse is not standing in the field longing for its days in the wild. It is our responsibility to make sure the horses’ needs are being met in captivity, and this includes not only the basics like food and water, but also physical and mental activity, companionship, and a living environment that is as close to natural as we can make it. 

Every situation is different, but here are some examples that might help demonstrate all the ways we manage the horses, and how we arrive at many of these decisions. 


  1. You may remember Trooper, the horse that was bit by another stallion several years ago. What a nasty wound, huh? Naturally the first reaction is “yikes we need to bring him in!” But upon closer observation, we saw that Trooper was maintaining decent body condition (no, he is not skinny…body condition scoring is a post for another day, though), he was active, he had full range of motion, and the wound was clean and healing despite the severity of it. Our vet recommended leaving him in the wild and closely monitoring him. We consulted several wildlife experts who all agreed that leaving him in the wild to heal was the best thing for him. We watched Trooper’s injury grow smaller and smaller all summer, and by the fall only a small scare remained. The following summer, Trooper was fatally kicked by another stallion and we euthanized him, sad but also grateful that the old stallion got to live one more year in the wild and then die in the place he’d always called home. 

Anne Bonny

  1. Anne Bonny lost her eye last year, most likely from the same condition Amadeo suffered from. We kept a close watch on her as the eye deteriorated, kept our vet posted with photos, and remained ready to intervene should she begin to struggle at all. However, she stayed in excellent body condition, kept up with her harem, and didn’t seem otherwise affected so we left her alone. Was it painful? Probably. But the side effects of losing the eye did not amount to enough of a reason to remove her. Anne’s quality of life never deteriorated so there was no need to intervene. If, like Amadeo, she begins to lose the other eye we will take her to the farm because a completely blind horse would not survive in the wild. For now she is managing just fine with one eye. 


  1. Oh Captain. Such a cool old guy, and a great example of how we manage the horses. Early last spring we noticed that he had started dropping weight, but decided to wait and watch as the grass started to come back in. By June, he was still very skinny but he was very active, travelling significant distances to graze and drink, and hunkering down in the shade to rest during the heat of the day. He was bright and alert, and always got annoyed when we bothered him to check in. Always a good sign. It was clear that while Captain was quickly approaching the end of his life, he didn’t want any help from us in the meantime. So we got into the routine of checking on him every day, and got regular updates from the residents of the houses whose carports he napped under every afternoon. In August he was spotted with a significant amount of discharge coming from his nose and eye. Upon closer inspection, it was apparent he had an abscess under his eye that had ruptured, indicating an infection likely caused by a rotten tooth. Captain would not survive this without intervention, so we were faced with a choice. Euthanize him in the wild or remove him and see if we could treat the infection and give him a little bit more time to live peacefully on the farm. Captain was still alert and active, so we decided to give him a chance. Ultimately, we made the decision to euthanize him but for about a month Captain was spoiled rotten by everyone at the farm. He died with a full belly and surrounded by love, and we knew the right call had been made. 


  1. If we had a nickel for every call we got about Taco we’d be rich! Yep, that’s a big lump. No, it doesn’t seem to bother him. It’s been there for years and has never slowed him down. But over the last couple months it has gotten noticeably bigger. so a couple weeks ago we brought our vet up to get a look at it in person. It’s mostly fluid, probably nothing to be concerned about, but there’s no reason we shouldn’t drain it once the weather cools off and the bugs aren’t bad. So in the fall we will catch him and perform the procedure in the field, then release him to heal up while we keep a close eye on him. He’s a young, healthy stallion and should have no problem recovering from a simple procedure like that on his own. There is always a chance the vet might find something unexpected once she begins the procedure, or the wound may require more care than we can provide in the field, and we have to remove Taco anyway. Hopefully that won’t be the case but we will be prepared for anything.

Every horse is different, and no case will ever be the same. We learn from each removal, birth, death, and emergency, and then apply that knowledge to the next situation. With fewer than 100 of these horses left here in the wild, it’s critically important that we give each and every one of them the chance to contribute their genes to the herd. We won’t lose a valuable member of this highly threatened breed when we can remove them and potentially save their life. And their lives do go on! We are developing a conservation program for the farm that includes breeding to Shackleford stallions, we do tons of outreach and education with the horses, and some of them are even adopted out to new families. But no matter what, all of the horses have one true purpose – be a Banker. That’s all we expect from them. Coming off the beach doesn’t make them any less a Banker horse, or any less important to the herd.

We strive to do everything possible to keep them wild, in the place where they’ve lived for the last five centuries. But when that’s not possible, we will provide them with a safe home for the rest of their lives where they will continue to contribute to the conservation of the herd in many different ways. 

NC wild horse fund announces birth of baby foal, making her 3rd of 2020


By Madison Forsey

Posted  Updated: 

COROLLA, N.C. (WNCT) — The Corolla Wild Horse Fund announced in a Facebook post that a baby female foal was born Friday, making her baby number three in 2020.

“This little girl was born Friday night and she and mom are both doing very well,” the group said.

The group has decided to name the new addition Amelia.

The post goes on to say if you do come across the foal, keep a distance of 50 feet. Hovering and circling can be stressful for the horses.

Welcome to the Beach, Alma!

Photo by Gene Ford, Corolla, NC.

CWHF Social Media Post – April 18, 2020


We are excited to officially announce the birth of the second foal of 2020!

This little one was born about a week ago. Determining the gender has been tricky but based on what we’ve been able to observe so far we are pretty sure it’s a filly. This is the first foal for mom Orlanda and both are doing well! Her father Rambler is very attentive, and she’s got lots of aunts to look after her too.

The new foal’s name is Alma, which means soul in Spanish, and translates to “lifts the spirit” in English. The name is also of Greek derivation, meaning “salt water.”

Welcome to the beach, Alma!


IT’S A BOY! Ok, we’re like 99% sure.

by Corolla Wild Horse Fund

Social Media Post 4.4.20

🥁🥁🥁🥁 IT'S A BOY! Ok, we're like 99% sure. 😉 We're estimating the little one to be about a week old. His mother is…

Posted by Corolla Wild Horse Fund on Saturday, April 4, 2020

We’re estimating the little one to be about a week old. His mother is North Star, and her parents are Virginia Dare and Lucky Duck, who both live at the rescue farm now. This colt is carrying on his family’s legacy!

There were two names we couldn’t decide on. The first choice was Arthur or Arturo.  Our second choice was Ananias, after Ananias Dare, father of (human) Virginia Dare, of Lost Colony fame. Rather than choosing between the two, we figured a special boy like this deserves a special name. So welcome to the world Arturo Ananias Dare!

Image may contain: tree and outdoor

After a decade of carefully managing the herd by collecting DNA data, targeted contraception, and thoughtful record keeping, we are able to track entire families. We are now in a position where we are ready to work with genetic specialists to create a registry of Corolla horses that documents family lines like this one. This will help us determine matches for captive breeding as well as help us manage our targeted breeding program for the wild horses.

Arturo is a special foal for many reasons – the first of 2020, the first for North Star, a ray of light during a dark time in the world, and a healthy addition to a herd that needs new members. But perhaps the most special thing about him, particularly to those of us who fought to keep his grandparents and uncle Mateo on the beach and then worked hard to make sure their transition to captivity was filled with understanding and love, Arturo is proof that life goes on. Legacies continue with careful management and even the horses that can no longer stay in the wild leave their mark on the herd. They all have a story, and a purpose, and we are dedicated to protecting them for many, many generations to come.

Corolla Wild Horse Fund Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

CWHF Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Corolla wild horse who was a favorite among visitors has died

by Jeff Hampton, Virginian-Pilot, March 8, 2020, 4:40 pm

The blind Corolla wild horse that was once a king of the underdeveloped beaches died Friday. He is possibly the only wild horse saved by an ocean rescue team. Several weeks ago, Amadeo became increasingly stiff in his legs and hips and unable to move freely. He could not get up after falling Friday, according to a social media post by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

He died quickly and peacefully, the post said. “Rest free and easy, sweet boy,” it said. “We love you so much and you will forever be in our hearts and in the spirit of everything we do here at the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

Amadeo spent most of his 40 years free on the beaches north of Corolla and was well known as a stallion who fought for his harem of mares. He was already blind in one eye when a stallion damaged the other eye in a battle for supremacy seven years ago, according to Pilot archives.

He ran into the ocean where he was caught in a riptide that carried him away from the beach and more than a mile down the shore. An ocean rescue team used flotation buoys to push him to safety on the beach. It was the first time in anyone’s memory the Corolla ocean rescue team had saved a wild horse.

Afterward, he was retired to a farm in Grandy for aging and wayward wild horses where he became a favorite of visitors. He appeared to enjoy interacting with people including children who loved to pet him. He was one of the horses who used a brush fixed on his halter to paint watercolors sold by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

Rescued wild horses create paintings

Horse trainer Nora Tarpley helps Amadeo, a 35-year-old blind Corolla wild mustang, paint on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, at a farm in Grandy, NC. (Kaitlin McKeown / The Virginian-Pilot)

Horse trainer Nora Tarpley fastened a small paintbrush to the halter on Amadeo, the blind stallion from the Corolla wild herd.

The brush tip dripped with red water-based paint.

Tarpley held an 8-inch-by-11-inch piece of white paper up to Amadeo’s nose. He hesitated a second, sensing the paper, before deliberately swiping the brush across the page.

“Oh, yeah,” Tarpley said. “Good boy.”

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund has started what zoos have been doing for years _ letting animals create artwork and selling the pieces to raise money.

For $30, the buyer gets a framed painting with a photo of the horse that created it.

Herd manager Meg Puckett helped elephants at the Virginia Zoo make paintings when she worked there years ago. That sparked the idea of getting wild horses to express themselves as well.

The artwork of a chimpanzee named Congo will be up for auction at a major London gallery in December. His works could sell from $1,800 to $7,400 each. In 2005, three pieces of Congo’s work sold for $25,000.

Congo painted in the 1950s while under the care of painter and zoologist Desmond Morris. The pair appeared on television and in newspaper articles in the late 1950s. Congo died in the 1960s.

A pig on a South African farm has become known as Pigcasso for his artwork for sale at an online site.

It is not certain if Amadeo has similar aspirations. He stood Monday in a scenic pasture of green grasses surrounded by white fences ready to complete his design. One swipe of red paint was not enough. This masterpiece needed something more.

Tarpley removed the brush, dipped it this time in yellow paint and reattached it to the leather halter, straps that wrap around the head used for controlling the horse. Amadeo touched the paper with his nose before making his stroke. The yellow and red brush marks across the paper blended into orange shapes in the center that looked like modern art genius to the casual observer.

“Is that not beautiful?” Tarpley said. “You did such a good job.”

Amadeo munched an apple slice from her hand as a reward and then got a scratch on his chest that made him stretch his neck high and put a smile on his big horse lips.

The paintings are done by horses removed from the Currituck Outer Banks and placed on a Grandy farm. The horses love the rewards that come afterward.

Like zoo animals, the painting activity is believed to be a welcome diversion from daily routine. Caretakers don’t make the horses create if they are not feeling it, Puckett said.

They give definite signals. Sometimes a horse will pull away from the offered brush. A female called Foxy Moxy usually likes painting, but on this day, she turned her rear end toward Tarpley.

All 15 horses at the farm have made paintings.

A gallery with a photo of each equine artist hangs in the visitor center of the farm. Each horse has a style and favorite colors to work with.

Raymond the mule has made one painting that has already sold at auction. Virginia Dare paints in dark blue with heavy brush strokes. Bella prefers lighter blues and covers the paper more comprehensively.

Amadeo loves reds and oranges. They fit his outgoing personality, Puckett said.

“He seems to be proud of it,” she said.

Wild horse fund hires contractor to fix fencing, keep mustangs on 4×4

OBX Today
October 10, 2019 by Kari Pugh

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund this week hired a contractor to temporarily fix a fence meant to keep the Outer Banks’ wild mustangs from wandering the paved roads and neighborhoods of Corolla.

Following Hurricane Dorian flooding, a group of wild horses have been passing through the dilapidated fencing every day to roam Corolla neighborhoods. CWHF caretakers and volunteers were spending every night out on the beaches trying to keep the horses from crossing through.

“This will hopefully give the county a little more time to continue working on plans to completely replace it, will ensure the horses’ safety for the time being, and give our staff and volunteers a breather,” CWHF herd manager Meg Puckett said in a Facebook post.


The herd’s legendary Raymond the mule — the product of a local donkey and wild mare’s affair more than 20 years ago — was among the group leaving the 4×4 beach and walking the paved roads every night. The CWHF made the decision to remove him from the beach at the end of September after a condition with his feet deteriorated due to walking on pavement.

Raymond has settled in at the fund’s rescue farm, where he will remain the rest of his days. He likely wouldn’t survive much longer in the wild due to his medical conditions, caretakers said, and seems to be enjoying the retirement life so far.

“Thanks to everyone – our supporters and volunteers, our staff and board, and Currituck County for working together to keep the horses safe,” Puckett wrote.