Mustang Mornings

MUSTANG MORNINGS

Join us Wednesdays this summer for Mustang Mornings at the Farm. Beginning May 22, the Betsy Dowdy Equine Center will be open to the public from 10 am – 2 pm. Visit the farm on the mainland in Grandy and meet the rescued Banker horses currently in our care on the walking tour, where you can spend time with our staff. Attend a free movie screening of The Secret of Corolla, a 32-minute documentary on the Banker mustangs, the culture, and lifestyle of the island. There will be a Q&A directly after the screening with the CWHF Director of Herd Management, Meg Puckett.

Suggested donation of $10 per vehicle at the gate.

CWHF shirts, hats, and other gifts will be available. All purchases benefit the horses. You can also sponsor any of the rescue horses. Sponsorship includes a photo and certificate, as well as quarterly updates on your sponsored horse.

Please note that our program will run until Wednesday, August 28th this year. Be sure to check our Events Calendar for announcements of special events to be held at the farm throughout the year.

THINGS TO KNOW AHEAD OF TIME

  • Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • No outside food permitted
  • Please do not bring apples, carrots, or other treats for the horses.
  • No outside dogs permitted. Dogs may not be left unattended in vehicles. Service dogs welcome, but must be leashed and under control at all times.
  • Photography is permitted for personal enjoyment. Photos cannot be used for profit without consent from the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.
  • CWHF reserves the right to ask any person or persons to leave the property at any time.
  • Max speed limit is 5 mph at all times.
  • Check the event page or call before attending, in case of last-minute cancellation. Event is rain or shine, but the farm will be closed in the case of lightning or other dangerous weather. The farm may close in the event of certain emergencies or other issues with the horses.
  • Gates close fifteen minutes prior to the end of the event.
  • Remember, this is a working farm! There are mud puddles, biting insects, and animals that poop. Closed-toe shoes are recommended. There is a bathroom on site, but facilities, in general, are limited.
  • We are unfortunately unable to accommodate visitors at any other times. The farm is closed to the public outside of open house hours.

ABOUT THE FARM

As a last resort, severely injured or habituated horses must be removed from the wild. Fractured bones, deep wounds, and severe colic are causes for rescue intervention.

Recently, the Fund was given the opportunity to purchase 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.

Every horse that requires removal from the wild has a stable, permanent home on our farm. It is a peaceful, quiet place where injured, ill, or otherwise suffering rescued horses can decompress, heal, and be slowly domesticated. They will receive the specialized veterinary care that they need as they adapt and adjust to human contact and a new diet. After that, they may enter our adoption program, or they may live with us forever if they require special care.

MEET THE MUSTANGS

Blossom

BLOSSOM

Thirty-one-year-old Blossom was one of the oldest horses in the wild herd before her rescue in October 2023. She was rescued after a resident called to report that she was unable to move or put weight on one of her front legs. Our vet took x-rays and found that she had severely torn a ligament. Due to her age, it was decided the best option for recovery would be letting the ligament heal and fuse itself. She is now happy and comfortable on the farm, and shares a paddock with Raymond the mule who she also lived with in the wild.

BLOSSOM IS AVAILABLE FOR SPONSORSHIP

BRIO

Born in July 2021, Brio was rescued in March 2022 when he was discovered alone. We now know his mother died, though we were not able to determine why. While technically old enough to survive without nursing, Brio was not old enough to survive on his own. We determined he was losing weight and growing lethargic. Once rescued and brought to the farm, he was diagnosed with pneumonia. With specialized care, he has fully recovered and happily shares a pasture with other horses at the farm. He loves kids and playing with toys!

BRIO IS AVAILABLE FOR SPONSORSHIP

JUNE

Rescued mare. June is 13 years old and was removed from the wild in September 2022 when she showed signs of pythiosis infecting a cut near the top of her hoof. Pythiosis can be fatal, so she was taken to NC State University in Raleigh for immediate removal of the lesion and treatment. After several weeks in the hospital in critical condition, June finally returned to the farm and continued to heal. Now recovered, she happily shares a pasture with another mare and is currently in training for outreach.

JUNE IS AVAILABLE FOR SPONSORSHIP

JUNIOR

Rescued Stallion. Junior is a 17-year-old stallion who was rescued in July 2021 from choking. He is the son of the late, well-known stallion Amadeo, who passed away in March 2020. Amadeo Junior stands out much like his father did. He is a flashy sorrel stallion with a white blaze and a commanding stature, both of which he inherited from his father. At the farm, Junior is one of the kindest and most thoughtful stallions we’ve ever worked with, and often reminds us of his beloved father.

JUNIOR IS AVAILABLE FOR SPONSORSHIP

RAYMOND

Rescued Mule. Raymond is a 25-year-old mule, offspring of a wild Banker mare and a domestic donkey once owned by a local farmer. He lived among the Corollas in the wild for over two decades. In the fall of 2019, Raymond was removed from the beach due to several medical conditions that will require specialized care at the farm for the remainder of his life. Though he looks like a mule, DNA tests have shown that Raymond has just as much Spanish blood as many of the other horses!

RAYMOND IS AVAILABLE FOR SPONSORSHIP

RITA

Rescued Mare. Rita is a 13-year-old mare who was taken off the beach as a foal after she was born with severely crooked hind legs. Once treated, Rita was adopted by a wonderful family who she lived with for many years. Her adopted mom became terminally ill in the spring of 2018 and she was returned to us with the promise of good care and a forever home. Rita is an amazing ambassador for outreach and participates in many educational programs.

RITA IS AVAILABLE FOR SPONSORSHIP

Valentine

VALENTINE

Removed mare. Valentine is 14 years old and was removed from the wild in January 2022 after she and the stallion she was with, Arrow, became severely habituated. They’d become food aggressive around trash cans and at times approached people for food. Despite efforts to discourage this behavior and educate the public on the importance of securing trash cans and not feeding the horses, we decided the risk to the horses and public was just too high. At the farm, Valentine loves attention and taking charge with the other mares.

VALENTINE IS AVAILABLE FOR SPONSORSHIP

VIRGINIA DARE

In the late winter of 2017 and early spring of 2018, a group of six horses began habitually circumventing the fence at the NC/VA state line and going into False Cape State Park and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. CWHF worked with park and refuge officials to routinely move the horses back to Carova, but we were unable to extend the fence through the navigable water of the marsh and sound and ultimately the horses were removed and brought to the CWHF rescue farm in Grandy. It was a devastating loss to the herd but the alternative was potentially worse, and we could at least take comfort in the fact that they were finally safe with us at the farm.

Each group of wild horses has one mare that is in charge – you’ll often hear them referred to as boss mares. Virginia Dare was the boss mare of the False Cape group, and she is the boss mare at the farm now too. Virginia is in her teens, and has had two foals that we know of (Ocean Pearl and Mateo, both removed with her). She has a regal air about her – that’s how she got her name, and is very demanding of respect. Working with her is a partnership, and earning the trust and cooperation of a mare like Virginia is one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable. Within the herd of mares at the farm, she is a strong, calming presence and very good at keeping the pecking order intact. She loves human attention on her own terms, and really loves babies of all species. She has accepted orphaned foals as her own, and was once even heard making “mama noises” at a puppy.

By sponsoring Virginia Dare, your commitment will help cover her care, including feed, hay, supplements, medicine, regular farrier service, veterinary care, pasture maintenance, and so much more.

VIRGINIA DARE IS AVAILABLE FOR SPONSORSHIP

DEWS ISLAND MARES

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 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 a 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.

In spring of 2017, 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 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. 

The girls have settled into life on the farm. They are all in great shape and they are 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.

THE RENEGADE SIX

The fence that separates Virginia and North Carolina was installed by volunteers in the early 2000s and has held up remarkably well. However, it stops short of the sound because of the difficult, marshy terrain. For an intrepid horse, getting into Virginia is certainly possible, but over the past 15-20 years there have been very few instances of that happening.

In January of 2018 CWHF began receiving calls about a group of horses that were making their way around (or up, over, or through) the northern barrier fence and into False Cape State Park in Virginia. There are many reasons why this was unsafe for both horses and humans, and while we hoped that maybe it was just a one-time exploration, we were pretty sure that the horses were establishing patterns and territory up in Virginia.

The horses—four mares, a stallion, and a yearling colt, were moved back to Carova several times, and once even trailered to the southernmost part of the refuge and released, but they continuously made their way back up into Virginia. The stallion is young, and this group includes what we believe is his first foal and the first mares he was ever able keep, so he is very protective and territorial. We believe that he was moving away from the pressure of other stallions, and of course the fact that there was lots of green grass in the state park influenced his behavior too.

CWHF worked with the folks at False Cape and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge to return the horses to North Carolina and figure out solutions to the fence problem. It was decided that the fence needed to be extended by about 1600 feet, which would require hiring a contractor with equipment that could be operated in the swampy marsh. Our mission is, first and foremost, to keep the horses wild, in their natural habitat, and we were hoping that this could be the case for the six that were starting to call Virginia their home. Unfortunately, the timing just didn’t work out.

There was big concern from the officials in Virginia that the horses would make their way into the populated areas of Virginia Beach. It would be several weeks before construction on the fence could start and, in the meantime, the horses were deemed a nuisance by the Department of the Interior, and we had no choice but to allow them to be removed and brought to our rescue farm. While they are no longer wild, at least they are now safe and in the Fund’s care.

The yearling colt is Mateo, who was born in April of last year. We named his father Lucky Duck (Ducky for short) after he got caught up in the cattle guard but luckily survived the incident. His mother is Virginia Dare, and the other three mares are Ocean Pearl, Bonita, and Kitty Hawk. 

Mateo has been adopted by a wonderful family who already has two other rescued Corolla horses, along with a few retired domestic horses and a mini donkey. He’ll be living on a big, beautiful, hilly farm just outside of Lexington, Virginia.

As for the rest of the family, they will be staying at our rescue farm for the foreseeable future. We plan on keeping Ducky as an Ambassador horse for educational outreach, and also a breeding stallion for our captive herd. Bonita was diagnosed with Lyme disease not long after she arrived, so she’s being treated for that and showing some signs of improvement. Kitty Hawk and Ocean Pearl have already been saddled and worked in the round pen, and we’re looking forward to getting a rider on them both! 

Virginia Dare is the boss mare, and we’ve been taking it slow with her. She demands respect and space, and we’re happy to give it to her. She did an amazing job taking care of Mateo during their escapades, and she deserves an easy life now. Virginia is the mare who accepted orphaned foal Chris in June and kept him company for his short time with us. She’s a very special girl.

HAY FOR A DAY

Hay – it’s what’s for dinner! Also breakfast, lunch, and a few snacks in between. Quality hay is the mainstay of our rescued horses’ diet. Horses are grazers. In the wild, they spend the majority of their time foraging for food and it’s important to recreate this behavior with domestic horses as well.

For just $70 you can sponsor Hay For A Full Day, or $35 to sponsor Hay For Half A Day, and help support Ducky, Virginia Dare, Moxie, Bella, Luna, Little Star and all the rest of the horses under the Fund’s care.

HAY FOR HALF A DAY – $35.00

HAY FOR A FULL DAY – $70.00

The Corolla Wild horse Fund is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit. We do not receive any state or federal funding. We raise over 90% of our budget through donations, special events, memberships, sponsorships, grants, and mission-related merchandise sales. Every dollar donated helps to further our mission to protect and conserve the Colonial Spanish Mustangs living on the Northern Outer Banks. Contributions are tax deductible in accordance with IRS regulations.

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