For the past twenty years there’s been a small but mighty group of Banker horses living on Dews Island, a strip of land situation just off the mainland and adjacent to the Wright family’s Cotton Gin and Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg. Early on in the Fund’s history there was no rehab farm, so horses that had to be removed from the wild were placed on the island and allowed to continue living a wild, but solitary and relatively confined life. The island is also home to a historic hunting lodge, and is a destination for waterfowl hunters visiting northeastern North Carolina.
Last spring CWHF was approached by the landowners and asked to consider removing the eight remaining horses due to a variety of reasons. We knew we had our work cut out for us, but we were excited to welcome the mares to the farm and embark on a new – and challenging! – adventure. Our herd manager and trainer spent some time with the horses on the island, getting to know them and talking with the caretakers about their personalities, lineage, and history. They learned which ones were more personable, which ones were most likely to be a little cranky or flighty, who was related to whom, and who might give us a run for our money.
One of the challenges we faced is that there is only one way on and off the island – a foot bridge. Our truck and trailer would not fit across the bridge so we had to figure out a way to move the horses over the water while still keeping them contained. A week before the big move we set up a corral at the bottom of the bridge on the mainland side and their long-time caretaker Billy walked them over every day and fed them hay inside the corral. The last thing we wanted to do was stress the horses out, and this helped acclimate them to going into the corral so that the day of the move it wouldn’t be a shock to their routine.
With the help of some WONDERFUL volunteers (including the same super cowboys who helped round up Roamer) the move went pretty flawlessly. Six of the eight horses quietly followed Billy over the bridge that Saturday morning and Mike, Steve, and Wayne easily herded them onto the trailer. The trip over to the farm was quick, and the horses unloaded just as easily as they loaded. We were so relieved. There were two stragglers that we had to go back for, and who gave us a bit of a chase but in the end they were pretty cooperative and quickly reunited with their friends.
Over the last couple of weeks the girls have settled into life on the farm. They are all in great shape and they’re getting used to having us humans around (they are very food driven, which helps!). We’ve gotten halters on everyone except Bella and Betty, which didn’t surprise us given their antics on the day of the roundup. But that’s ok! We’ve got all the time in the world to work on gaining their trust and cooperation.
Right now we’re focused on feeding all these new faces. They are out on pasture but since we’re going into the winter there’s not much grass which means our hay costs have increased exponentially. This Giving Tuesday, we’re asking for your help to make caring for the mares a little easier not just on our pocketbook, but our farm caretakers as well. We have an amazing hay dealer who provides us with high quality forage in the form of round bales, but at this time we’re not really set up to leave the big bales out in the pasture for the horses. We want them to have access to hay at all times, and to assure that happens we need to invest in some new equipment. That’s where you come in!
This #GivingTuesday, consider a donation to CWHF that will help us support the eight Dews Island mares. You contribution will make it possible for us to purchase large hay nets that fit over the round bales, as well as some new, smaller hay nets that will make it easier for us to feed all the horses every day. You can make a donation directly to the Fund by going here, or if you’re so inclined you can purchase an item and have it sent directly to us. Just click on the image to go to the corresponding Amazon page.
We’ll be bringing you much more about Brownie, Cupcake, Little Star, Luna, Moxie, Jasmine, Betty, and Bella!
Thank you, thank you, thank you to our wonderful staff and volunteers who made this move safe and stress-free for the horses. Huge thanks to Beth Fleishaker for photographing the move, and to Wayne and Steve Mizelle and Mike Cowan for letting us use their trailer and driving up from Windsor to help get the horses moved. We couldn’t have done it without them! And of course our gratitude goes out to Billy and the Wright family for loving and taking care of the Dews Island horses for two decades, and for their help and support over the last few months.