Junior In Distress, Removed From the Beach

Posted July 5, 2021

Report by CWHF

Last week we almost lost another horse to choking. Because of the quick action of the people who witnessed his distress, we were able to save him and he didn’t die like Danny did last year. But it was a very close call, and now he is out of the wild forever.
We got a call Wednesday morning that Amadeo Jr, or Junior as we call him, was running around frantically, rolling, and in a lot of discomfort. We thought that he might be colicking, but upon arrival it was clear he was choking. He was behaving exactly like Danny did last year when he choked. There were several moments during the rescue where we thought he wasn’t going to make it, but we were ultimately able to get him onto the trailer and to the rescue farm, where the vet met us immediately. He confirmed the choke, and was able to get the obstruction passed. It took about 24 hours after rescue for our vet to give him the all-clear, but we are confident now that he is going to make a full recovery. In addition to the choke, he also lacerated his eyes pretty badly when he was rolling in the sand. We are medicating them twice a day and they are starting to look better but without treatment he probably would have had permanent damage to his eyes.
We can’t say for sure if Junior was choking on something he was fed, or on something he got out of the garbage, but either way the message is the same. Please, please, please be responsible and thoughtful if you are staying in the horses’ habitat. There are signs everywhere saying not to feed or approach the horses, so there is absolutely no excuse for ignorance. Anyone who feeds a horse is doing it knowing they could potentially kill that horse. We’ve also had a lot of issues this summer with overflowing garbage cans. If you are renting a house and the garbage is overflowing, please call your rental company to come pick it up. If there aren’t enough cans, let them know. Tie your bags up and make sure the lids are securely fastened.
Every time something like this happens we get together with other stakeholders (the county, property management companies, law enforcement, etc.) and discuss what we can do to prevent it from happening again. Unfortunately, we are getting to the point where there isn’t much more we can do to micromanage people’s actions. If people do not take some responsibility to learn the rules and follow them, this will keep happening. We have some meetings set up to talk about garbage management, and we are going to ramp up our efforts to get information into every single rental home (this information has been available for several years: https://www.corollawildhorses.com/community-wild-horse…/). But what we really need is for every person who visits the 4×4 to follow the rules. It’s as simple as that.
We are so grateful to the person who first called in about Junior; a couple hours later and he would not have survived. We are also indebted to Dr Sarah, a vet who just happened to be vacationing in a house right next to where Junior was. She kept an eye on him while we were making our way up, provided us with updates, and helped us catch him and get him loaded onto the trailer. And as always, we must thank our Currituck County sheriff’s department for their support and assistance. Junior had a lot of people working very hard to save his life on Wednesday.
We put Junior on the trailer right at the foot of Penny’s Hill, where he’s lived all his life. In fact, one of our favorite pictures of his dad, Amadeo, was taken at the top of Penny’s Hill. His ancestors have called that area home for hundreds of years and Junior’s loss from the wild herd is truly devastating. Of course we are happy to have him on the farm, happy that we saved him, and happy knowing he will be safe and comfortable for the rest of his life. But he should be wild.
Please don’t take the horses’ existence here for granted. Follow the rules so they will continue to thrive on the northern beaches for many more generations. It’s absolutely possible to live in harmony with them; to watch them and love them and appreciate everything about them without getting close, and certainly without feeding. Just like every individual horse is critically important to the genetic health of the herd, every single person who sets foots on the beach is critically important to their survival too. All it takes is one apple from one person. Please do not be that one person who causes a tragedy to happen.

Lizzie Update

Report by Meg Puckett, Herd Manager
Lizzie has been at NC State for a week now, and is doing well, all things considered. She’s comfortable and has adjusted to hospital life just fine. Eating, drinking, not stressed out, and has even gained a bit of weight. So that is good!
Her wound, on the other hand, is not so good. Yesterday she had the first of probably several surgeries to treat the infection. The wound was debrided and a regional limb perfusion was performed (this is when antibiotics are administered directly into the affected leg). This is exactly the same treatment Riptide received last year, but unfortunately, Lizzie’s infection is far worse than his was and has caused some secondary issues to arise, like arthritis in her knee. So she is very much still in the woods, and will be for a long time. But as long as she is comfortable and our vets think she has a chance, we will keep fighting for her.
As you can imagine, Lizzie’s vet bill is adding up daily. Because of your generous support, we are able to focus on making sure she is receiving the best care possible. Please know that we do not take that generosity lightly, and we recognize the trust you place in us to care for these horses. Thank you.
(The plastic part hanging off Lizzie’s halter is called a bib, and it works the same as a cone on a dog – prevents her from chewing at her bandage. She can still eat and drink normally.)
Another Update July 12, 2021
May be an image of 1 person, horse and nature
Lizzie with her filly, Rabbit.
We have some sad news to share this morning. On Friday, at the recommendation of our veterinary team, we made the difficult decision to euthanize Lizzie. Her condition deteriorated quickly at the end of last week, and on Friday it was clear that not only was the infection in her leg getting worse despite aggressive treatment, she was suffering physically and emotionally.
We’d like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the team of vets and other staff at NC State for their exceptional care of Lizzie. This was not a normal case and they went above and beyond to work with us and our local vet to make sure we were doing everything we could to save Lizzie, while keeping her comfort and wellbeing in mind every step of the way.
Thank you to everyone who donated towards her care, sent well wishes, and asked about her over the last couple weeks. You helped us make sure Lizzie had the best chance possible, and for that we are extremely grateful.
Lizzie lives on in her two offspring, Rabbit and Alex, and her influence on the herd and our hearts will never be forgotten. Rest free, sweet girl.

Corolla’s wild stallions fight over territory — in full view of summer beach crowds

By Jeff Hampton

Virginian-Pilot, June 23, 2021

Two stallions fight each other over territory on the Currituck County Outer Banks north of Corolla. Photo courtesy of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. (Corolla Wild Horse Fund)Two stallions fight each other over territory on the Currituck County Outer Banks north of Corolla. Photo courtesy of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

Two stallions fight each other over territory on the Currituck County Outer Banks north of Corolla. Photo courtesy of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. (Corolla Wild Horse Fund)

COROLLA, N.C. — Corolla wild stallions are sparring with each other in front of awed summer beach crowds.

They rear up high on their back legs and strike with front hooves, in some cases just a few feet from beachgoers and their folding chairs, canopies and coolers.

Social media posts in recent weeks show video and photos of stallions fighting next to the surf. Others record them chasing defeated foes down the beach — manes and tails flowing.

The videos attract much attention; typically, a few thousand “like” the posts and several hundred comment. Most say seeing wild stallions battle is one of the most thrilling spectacles they have ever seen.

“Absolutely awesome,” wrote one follower.

But what causes these magnificent creatures to come to blows — and why now?

Stallions fight all year, but more people are on the Currituck County beaches during the summer and watch the drama first hand, said Meg Puckett, manager of the herd for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

“They will reestablish their boundaries,” she said. “Most of it is for show. It’s very rarely catastrophic.”

No Corolla stallion has died from a fight, she said.

Roughly 100 wild horses live on an 11-mile stretch of the Outer Banks north of Corolla. The horses divide themselves into harems of mares and foals led by a stallion. Each harem roams an area with loosely defined boundaries.

Stallions typically fight over territory and occasionally over a mare, Puckett said. About half the horses are male, so the competition is stiff to lead a group, Puckett said. Fighting can get unpredictable and dangerous for human bystanders. Puckett recommends people keep at least 50 feet away.

Horses fight using different tactics. They typically take on an adversary by striking with their front hoofs, biting their opponent’s neck or kicking with their back legs. Most stallions have marks from the brawls. Some are missing the tips of their ears, Puckett said.

“It’s amazing the scars they have,” she said. “It can get rough.”

At times, a young stallion challenges a veteran without a fight, Puckett said. It’s a form of psychological warfare.

Recently, a young buck followed the harem of an older stallion for months, watching and waiting. The elderly horse tried to keep his mares away from him, but it was no use. The challenger was always close by. The threat of a fight caused the old timer to lose weight and his health declined, Puckett said.

Finally, he gave up his mares to the younger horse. Afterward, he recovered, regained the weight and is doing well, Puckett said.

A stallion named Rambler leads a harem of about 10 mares in an area not far from Corolla. He is often seen by visitors to the beach.

Next to his territory, Acorn leads another large harem. Their clashes are more brotherly quarrels, Puckett said.

“It’s natural behavior that indicates a healthy herd,” she said. “Give them their space.”

Jeff Hampton, 757-446-2090, jeff.hampton@pilotonline.com

Lizzie’s Rescue

We had to perform a difficult rescue on Saturday, one that has been in the works for a year.
After Alex was born last year, his mom Lizzie got a wound on her knee that didn’t want to heal. She was sound and in good condition otherwise, so after consulting with the vet we decided to leave her in the wild so that she could raise Alex. Otherwise, we would have to remove them both and we really didn’t want to do that. We monitored her closely through the summer and fall, knowing that the plan would be to remove her for treatment this summer once Alex was old enough to be weaned. Unfortunately, the pair disappeared deep into the marsh in the early winter and despite our staff and Carova residents looking for them regularly, we never could find them. We even spent a few extra minutes during our recent helicopter survey to see if we could spot them from the air.
On Friday we got a call from one of the residents who had been helping us, letting us know Lizzie and Alex had shown up in her yard. So Saturday morning we jumped into action and went to rescue Lizzie. We blew two tires in the process and it was very difficult (emotionally) for us to separate her from Alex even though we knew he would be ok, but at the end of the day Lizzie walked right up onto the trailer like she had known the plan all along. She did an amazing job raising a big, strong, healthy colt and now it was her turn to be taken care of. Alex was understandably upset but seems to be adjusting just fine.
We are fairly certain that Lizzie is suffering from the same fungal infection that Riptide had last summer, which will require surgery at NC State. Right now she is at the rescue farm learning how to be handled and led so it will be less stressful for her and the staff at NCSU, but we anticipate taking her to Raleigh towards the end of this week or beginning of next. We’d also like her to gain a little bit of weight before she has surgery. She’s been started on antibiotics, has pre-op xrays scheduled, and the wound is getting cleaned and medicated daily. She is not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. We will know more about what we’re facing in the next couple days and will certainly keep everyone posted. But for right now Lizzie is stable and comfortable at the farm; she immediately started eating hay and took a big drink of clean water, and stands quietly to get her leg cleaned. She’s young and otherwise seems to be in good health so we are *very* cautiously optimistic but don’t want to get ahead of ourselves yet. All of this could change in an instant, but we want to be as open and transparent as possible every step of the way. This is going to be a long journey for Lizzie.
This rescue would not have happened if it weren’t for the incredible support of our community. Jeff and Angie Foster let us borrow a trailer tire when ours blew, and Jeff put it on and helped us get re-hitched and up the beach, and also got a new tire back on our beach truck. Jay Bender picked us up and got us back to our headquarters for another truck when we that tire blew, our amazing Currituck deputies kept an eye on us as we were heading up and down the beach, and a whole host of Carova residents helped us locate and track the horses Saturday morning. Our vet talked us through the very emotional separation of mom and son for which we are grateful – sticking to the plan can be hard in the heat of the moment, even when you know it’s the right thing to do. And finally, our staff deserves major kudos for jumping into action early Saturday morning and getting the job done despite all the difficulties.
As soon as we know more about what Lizzie is facing in the coming days we will post another update, but in the meantime please send her all your good energy, prayers, light, and love. As with every rescue, we are going to do everything in our power to save her. If you’re able to donate towards her veterinary care, we would be very appreciative. We’re able to do this work because of your support. We know the horses can always count on you when the call goes out – you are just as much a part of the team as everyone with boots on the ground here! Thank you.

Signs, signs everywhere a sign … to stay away from the wild horses

OBX Today

May 21, 2021 by Kari Pugh

An anonymous donor had 20 signs made to place along the dunes. [CWHF photo]

As another summer season gets underway, an anonymous donor recently had 20 large signs made warning beachgoers to stay away from the wild horses on the Outer Banks’ northern beaches.

“The “I didn’t see a sign!” excuse has officially become obsolete,” the Corolla Wild Horse Fund said in a Facebook post. “These banners join the signs already in place at the end of the paved road.”

Despite all the signs, a billboard, educational material distributed by rental agencies, warnings plastered on websites and social media and deputies patrolling the beach, every year hundreds of people continue ignoring the warnings to stay away from the Outer Banks endangered herd of Colonial Spanish mustangs.

The law states that everyone must stay at least 50 feet away from the wild horses roaming the beaches of the Currituck Outer Banks. Petting them and feeding them is illegal. Yet all day, every day in the summertime, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund fields calls and messages about people breaking the rules.

Last July, a yearling colt named Danny choked on an apple and died a prolonged and painful death due to people ignoring the rules.

“Danny was killed by humans who had no regard for the safety of the horses. No regard for the health of the horses. No regard for the laws put in place to protect the horses,” the CWHF said at the time.

“It takes a village and our village is dedicated to keeping these precious horses safe!”

Two new foals welcomed to Corolla wild horse herd

Coastland Times

Published 8:46 am Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Corolla Wild Horse fund recently introduced two new foals born to the herd.

“Benjamin, a colt, was born on April 11 and Bridget, a filly, was born on April 23. Both babies have attentive and experienced parents and are doing well! The count for 2021 so far is five – one colt, three fillies, and one yet to be determined,” stated the announcement.

Benjamin the colt. Kristen Vreeland photo, courtesy Corolla Wild Horse Fund
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund reminded all to “keep [your] distance from these new families. Fifty feet at minimum. Do not exit your vehicle or climb the dunes to get closer to them – it’s dangerous for them and for you. Each one of these foals is critically important to the long-term survival of the Corolla herd. We need them to grow up healthy, strong, and wild! Please help us make sure that happens.”



Corolla Wild Horse Fund Welcomes Spring’s First Foals!

Cuteness aside, 2021 has already gotten off to a dramatic start for the Outer Banks herd.

Southern Living – By Meghan Overdeep 

April 01, 2021

Spring is officially here, which means plenty of cute new additions to the Outer Banks’ most famous herd of wild horses.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF) revealed on Facebook this week that the Corolla herd has welcomed two new foals so far this year. While the first foal has stuck to the marsh and out of human view, the second, an energetic filly named Billie, is already keeping herd managers on their toes.

Billie (CWHF is going with “B” names this year) was born early Monday morning to father Dean and mom Imp. Drama quickly ensued, however, when the other adult in the harem, Autumn, decided that Billie was hers and would not let Imp near her. Fortunately, Autumn is letting Imp nurse Billie, but officials worry that that could change in an instant.

The family situation is tenuous, to say the least, and a good reminder that people should leave these majestic animals in peace.

“It would be great if this foal and her family were out of the public eye, like Baby 1. But they are not, so we are pleading with everyone to stay away from them,” CWHF wrote alongside photos of Billie on Facebook. “If you love the horses, the best thing you can do for Billie is pretend like she isn’t there. This family needs time to bond and figure their harem dynamics out.  And Billie needs to be able to nurse when she can without disruption. It is literally a life-or-death situation.”

According to the Wild Horse Ordinance of Currituck County, feeding the wild horses or getting within 50 feet of them is punishable by law. Cruelty, enticing, harboring, luring, seizing, and failure to report injury are also illegal, among numerous other offenses.

Remember, wild horses are above all, wild. They rely on each other and their instincts to keep them safe, and most have limited interaction with people. Even their dedicated human caretakers know the best approach is a hands-off one, preferring to let them fend for themselves, just as they have for centuries.

For more information on the horses and how to visit the area responsibly, visit CorollaWildHorses.com.

In the meantime, we’re hoping Billie, Imp, and Autumn figure this co-parenting thing out ASAP!

PODCAST: Corolla Wild Horse Fund herd manager Meg Puckett

News Talk 92.3 WZPR

Conversation with Sam Walker and Meg Puckett

Meg stopped into News Talk 92.3 WZPR to chat with Sam about the latest on the Corolla Wild Horse Fund’s efforts to protect the wild Spanish mustangs that roam the Currituck Outer Banks. Give a listen here, Sam is quite knowledgeable on the horses and it was a great conversation.

Day on the Farm - Corolla Wild Horses Rehabilitation and rescue

Day on the Farm

Enjoy an inside look at the Betsy Dowdy Equine Center, a 31-acre facility in Grandy where our rescued mustangs have been residing since 2014. Rescue and conservation are key components of our mission and we have recognized the need for a permanent “off-island” sanctuary.

Wild horses live on in one man’s art

By  on October 4, 2020

On Oct. 3, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF) reported this news about ceramics artist Michael Middleton, who incorporates hair from the wild horses into his work.

“How cool is this? One of Mike’s pots made from native Currituck clay and our dear Captain’s hair will be on display at the International Museum of the Horse in Lexington, KY. A great honor for a special horse and a talented artist. Also very exciting to have Currituck and the Banker horses represented in the museum!

You can purchase your own pot from Mike: https://michaelmiddletonceramics.com   He is a big supporter of CWHF and donates part of the proceeds back to the horses.” Captain, one of the truly special and beloved Corolla wild horses, was euthanized last year. He was estimated to have been in his late-to-mid 20’s.