Our mission is “to protect, conserve, and responsibly manage the herd of wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs 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.” The Fund incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit charity in 2001.
The Fund was organized in 1989 when caring citizens recognized the need for heightened awareness of the wild horses roaming from the town of Duck to the Virginia border. Eleven horses were hit and killed on Highway 12 between 1985 (when the road between Duck and Corolla was paved) and 1989, In the decade following the paving of the road, twenty horses were struck by vehicles. Many of today’s visitors to the Outer Banks do not know that before 1985, the 17 mile stretch of road between Duck and Corolla remained unpaved and infrequently traveled. Paving that road opened the floodgates for development, tourism, and more contact between wild horses and humans – and their vehicles.
The early founders of the Fund researched and attempted several strategies to stop horse fatalities caused by traffic on Highway 12 between Duck and Corolla. In the end, the most effective solution, even though controversial, was to move the remaining twenty horses that frequented the town of Corolla north of the paved road – to the “north beach” or “4×4 area.” (No one knows for certain how many wild horses were already in the roadless area north of Corolla.) By 1997, the Fund completed the southern sea-to-sound fence of the sanctuary, and the wild horses were relocated to the new “sanctuary”.
The northern fence is approximately eleven miles north, at the Virginia state line. Unfortunately for the horses, development continues to push north. Although referenced as a wild horse “sanctuary”, the 7,544 acres accessible to the horses is a mix of 70% private land and 30% public use. There are 3,150 platted lots with only 25% of the northern beaches currently developed. The beach is considered public road, and it is open to the public. It is the only access for residents and their guests staying in Carova, North Swan Beach, and Swan Beach, all growing communities to the west of the dunes on the north end to gain access to their property. The documentary, “Wild in Corolla,” is regularly shown at the Corolla Wild Horse Fund Museum for visitors to learn more about the formation of the Fund and its initial efforts to relocate the horses above the southern fence for their protection. Also regularly shown at the Museum is a recently released film, “The Secret of Corolla,” documenting historical recounts, details of the herd, and the evolution of the area and their habitat. Richly photographed with stills from days past inserted for a full and prolific chronicle of the horses and the people drawn here. Recipient of several awards, it was given title as Best Short Documentary Film as well as Best Music Score at the Equus International Film Festival.
Our Herd Manager is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to respond to emergencies. Our Chief Operating Officer oversees operations in Corolla as well as at the Betsy Dowdy Equine Center, a sanctuary facility on the mainland for all rescues and horses requiring rehabilitation. Our operations include an education center and gift shop. Our Donor Programs Associate assists with membership and sponsorship programs, donor database management, as well as seasonal activities for visitors. Our Chief Financial Officer handles all financial operations of the Fund and our Trainer is based at the rehab facility to oversee the taming, gentling, and training of all rescues. Part-time staffing includes Sanctuary Observers who document wild horse behavior and educate the public, retail store staff, and program support personnel. Everyone comes together to assist with horse emergencies when necessary.
Our primary programs include breed conservation, herd management, sanctuary observation, rescue and rehabilitation, training, adoption, and education. Summer programming includes Mustang Mornings at the Farm in which we offer members and visitors a weekly opportunity to see the rescue horses that are currently under our care and the work that we do with them. Would you like a representative to speak to your classroom or civic association? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund’s headquarters is located in the Historic Old Village of Corolla between Island Bookstore and the Corolla Chapel, where we have an educational museum and gift shop. We welcome visitors year-round. All proceeds from our store and activities benefit the wild horses, and donations are tax deductible according to IRS regulations.