The Geography and Horses of Coastal North Carolina

Our little corner of the world has been getting a lot of attention recently, and it’s become clear to us that many people might not understand exactly how our coastline is laid out, and where the different herds of Colonial Spanish mustangs are in relation to each other. 

On the map to the left, you’ll see a red X where there are currently herds of Banker horses living. The following post is a quick overview of the different habitats, herd sizes, managing organizations, and status post-Hurricane Florence. We encourage you to continue learning about these special horses by visiting the linked websites and supporting them in any way that you can! 

The Corolla horses that CWHF manages in cooperation with Currituck County, the state of North Carolina, and US Fish and Wildlife, are located at the very top of the Outer Banks. The horses here have access to about 7500 acres of mixed-use land, and are contained by sound-to-sea barrier fences on both ends. To the south, the fence keeps the horses away from the dangerous paved Highway 12 and the more populated southern beaches like Duck and Kitty Hawk. To the north, the fence follows the state line and keeps the horses from entering False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach. The 100 horses are protected by a county ordinance, but there is no federal protection for them. Hurricane Florence had virtually no impact on this area, though early on we were prepared for a direct hit. 

The Ocracoke ponies are managed by the National Park Service, and can be spotted in the 180-acre Pony Pen off of Highway 12. Until the late 1950s, the Ocracoke ponies roamed the island and were loosely managed by residents and the local Boy Scouts. Their history on the Outer Banks is storied, and the NPS is working hard to preserve and grow the herd of seventeen. You can read more about them here. The Park Service announced shortly after the hurricane that all of the Ocracoke ponies survived with no injuries and no damage to the Pony Pen and surrounding buildings. 

There is a herd of Banker horses on Cedar Island, just south of Ocracoke. It is made up of horses from Ocracoke and Shackleford Banks that roam freely on private land. All 53 horses were accounted for after Hurricane Florence, and are doing just fine. 

Shackleford Banks is the southern-most barrier island in Cape Lookout National Seashore. There are approximately 100 horses living on the 3000-acre island, only accessible by passenger ferry. The horses are managed cooperatively by the Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Foundation for Shackleford horses, and they are federally protected. Officials from the National Park Service and the Foundation for Shackleford Horses are in the process of doing a herd count, and while all horses have not been accounted for, the outlook for the herd is positive. You can find more information about the Shackleford horses here

There are also horses living on the Rachel Carson Reserve, which is a series of islands right off Beaufort and adjacent to Cape Lookout. There are about 30 horses living there, and they are managed by the North Carolina Coastal Reserve. These horses are probably very closely related to the horses on the Shackleford Banks, though they have no interaction with each other now due to the formation of an inlet that separated the two areas in the 1930s. Managers from the Coastal Reserve announced recently that all 30 of these horses are present and accounted for since Hurricane Florence. You can learn more about them here

So as you can see, the management of the Colonial Spanish mustangs of North Carolina is quite complicated. About 200 miles separates the herd at Corolla from the herd at Shackleford, so when Hurricane Florence dipped southward at the last minute, the Corolla horses were spared a direct hit while the horses south of here were more in the line of fire. We are all working together to make sure that each organization and herd has everything they need to recover from the storm as quickly as possible, but as you can imagine access to much of the habitat is quite difficult.

These horses are hardy and have survived on our special islands for many, many generations. We are quite sure they will survive for many more. 

 

Hurricane Florence Media Coverage

CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/12/us/wild-horses-barrier-islands-hurricane-florence/index.html

 

Huffington Post

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/north-carolina-wild-horses-hurricane-florence_us_5b97f198e4b0511db3e69ad6

 

Virginian-Pilot

https://pilotonline.com/news/local/weather/article_b1cb1dac-1ef4-5628-8b0b-f1813d64d2ad.html

 

US New & World Reports

https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2018-09-11/north-carolinas-wild-horses-expected-to-survive-hurricane

 

ABC 11 WTVD

https://abc11.com/pets-animals/what-will-happen-to-ncs-wild-horses-when-hurricane-florence-hits/4211269/

 

Cincinnati.com

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2018/09/12/hurricane-florence-outer-banks-wild-horses-expected-survive/1279796002/

 

The Inquisitr

https://www.inquisitr.com/5070565/outer-banks-wild-horses-hurricane-florence-moves-in/

 

WLTX.com

https://www.wltx.com/article/weather/hurricanes/hurricane-florence/hurricane-florence-outer-banks-horses-being-left-to-fend-for-themselves/101-593869490

 

The Weather Channel

https://weather.com/safety/hurricane/news/2018-09-13-north-carolina-horses-to-weather-florence-in-nature

 

News & Observer

https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article218414890.html

 

TIME

http://time.com/5397287/animals-tropical-storm-florence/

 

Patch.com

https://patch.com/north-carolina/across-nc/wild-horses-ponies-should-weather-hurricane-florence-just-fine

 

MyPalmBeachPost

https://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/local/the-latest-florence-forecast-bring-new-river-flooding/FClxfCPkG0L9skbMlH7o5J/

 

The Epoch Times

https://www.theepochtimes.com/outer-banks-wild-horses-survive-hurricane-florence_2662409.html

PEOPLE.com

https://people.com/human-interest/north-carolina-wild-horses-survive-hurricane-florence/

 

WECT

http://www.wect.com/story/39115564/ncs-wild-horses-not-harmed-by-hurricane-florence

 

WIBW News Now

https://www.wibwnewsnow.com/wild-horses-better-off-than-many-humans-during-north-carolina-hurricane/

 

ABC News

https://abcnews.go.com/US/wild-horses-outer-banks-unharmed-hurricane-florence/story?id=57932246

 

Spectrum News

http://spectrumlocalnews.com/nc/triangle-sandhills/news/2018/09/19/corolla-wild-horses-ok-after-florence

 

FOX 8 Live WVUE

http://www.fox8live.com/2018/09/19/ncs-wild-horses-not-harmed-by-hurricane-florence/

 

Simplemost

https://www.simplemost.com/north-carolinas-wild-horses-are-safe-after-hurricane-florence/

 

Charlotte Observer

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article218610395.html

 

wtkr.com

https://wtkr.com/2018/09/10/corolla-wild-horse-fund-prepares-rescued-horses-for-storm/

 

Durham Herald Sun

https://www.heraldsun.com/news/local/article218170815.html

 

Countryliving.com

https://www.countryliving.com/life/travel/a23116373/north-carolina-wild-horses-hurricane-florence/

 

 

 

USA Today

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/09/16/wild-horses-survive-hurricane-florence-north-carolina/1326895002/

 

Daily Mail (UK)

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6173429/Wild-horses-North-Carolina-make-Florence.html

 

The Hindu.com

https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-in-school/these-wild-horses-know-how-to-survive-hurricane-florence/article24950974.ece

 

Boston Globe

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2018/09/11/when-hurricane-florence-hits-what-will-happen-north-carolina-wild-horses/RaYq6MxEs70RKxL6ULlnxH/story.html

 

The Independent

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/north-carolina-wild-horses-hurricane-florence_us_5b97f198e4b0511db3e69ad6

 

Smithsonian magazine

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/five-ways-souths-cultural-institutions-landmarks-are-preparing-hurricane-florence-180970283/

 

Hurricane Florence Update 9/15/2018

Wild horses in Carova this morning, enjoying an overcast breeze and some green grass.

Hurricane Florence Update 9/14/2018

Here on the northern Outer Banks we are breathing a sigh of relief today. There may still be some coastal flooding over the weekend but nothing worse than a regular storm or nor’easter. These photos were taken this morning. As you can see, the horses are doing their normal thing – grazing, socializing, and wondering what us crazy humans are all worked up over.

With that being said, please keep our friends to the south in your thoughts. Inland portions of eastern NC are facing catastrophic flooding. Our hearts go out to them and we will post information on how you can help in the recovery efforts over the coming days, weeks, and months.

Thanks to everyone who reached out and offered support and well wishes over the past week. The Banker horses are lucky to have all of you at their backs. If you heard about these special horses for the first time recently, we hope that you continue to follow us as we work to protect and preserve these critically threatened cultural treasures.

We will keep posting updates throughout the weekend, but please rest a little easier knowing the horses in Corolla were spared the brunt of the storm

Hurricane Florence Update 9/13/2018

Wanted to give everyone an update from the rescue farm – we are fine! It’s just now starting to rain a bit and the horses are wondering what all the fuss is about. Water troughs are full, we’ve got generators on standby, plenty of hay, and there are three of us staying here on site with them through the storm.

The storm has shifted south of us and we are no longer facing a direct hit. We are in no way letting our guard down, but we have to say we are breathing a little bit easier this morning. At the same time, we are sending good thoughts and positive energy to our friends south of us, especially the horses at Shackleford and the Foundation for Shackleford Horses.

CWHF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a full time staff of just four people. If you would like to help with the care and protection of the horses, a donation to the organization would be very much welcomed and appreciated. We have 18 rescued mustangs in our care, in addition to the 100 horses living in the wild.

Thank you for the support! We will do our best to keep everyone updated throughout the storm.

Hurricane Florence Update 9/10/2018

Hurricane Florence is bearing down on coastal North Carolina and we know everyone is concerned about the horses, so here is our official update:

As of right now, Currituck County (where the horses live) is only evacuating tourists, but Dare County (Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, Hatteras, etc.) has ordered a mandatory evacuation for all residents and visitors. We are hoping that the storm tracks a little further south, sparing the Outer Banks a direct hit. We are expecting high winds, lots of rain, storm surge, and flooding. Most of our staff lives in Dare County.

The horses have lived on this barrier island for 500 years, and they are well equipped to deal with rough weather. They know where to go to stay high and dry and are probably in better shape right now than most of us humans who are scrambling with final preparations. They are much better off without any help from us; anything we might do in the hopes of “protecting” them would probably end up being more dangerous and stressful for them than the storm.

There are currently 18 rescued horses at our farm in Grandy, and right now our focus is on making sure they are ready to ride the storm out safely. They have shelter, but also the option to stay outside. Just like with the wild horses, their instincts will tell them where to go to be safe. We have a generator, we have filled up all of our extra buckets and water troughs, everyone will have emergency ID braided into their manes, and someone will be staying at the farm during the storm. We believe that it is safer to shelter in place, since the majority of the rescue horses are still very newly tamed, not used to being stalled, and not used to being trailered.

We will keep everyone updated as best we can. Thank you all for your concern and well wishes. We respectfully ask that unless you have an immediate emergency regarding a horse, please refrain from messaging us. We are trying to keep all of our lines of communication open and have very little time to respond to messages right now. If you are in the path of the storm too, please be safe!

No Feed, No Approach Initiative Kicked Off

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is pleased to announce the kick off to the “No Feed, No Approach” educational initiative to help educate tourist and locals alike about the dangers of human interaction with the wild herd.

To kick off the initiative a 10’ x 60’ billboard message has been erected in Coinjock stating “Admire Don’t Feed! Apples and Carrots Kill Wild Horses.” The strong message is intended to make the public aware that wild horses cannot eat any food that is not from their natural habitat of beach grasses.

The public is unaware that their snacks are harmful and often cause painful colic and may result in death.

The billboard was kindly donated, for an indefinite amount of time, by Karen and Mac Quidley, owners of the structure that is on their private land. Payment of the vinyl wrap was provided by CWHF volunteer Kelly Wilkes and its installation was donated by Robert and Carol Givens of RO Givens Signs.  Terry Douglas, a horse-loving graphic artist from Richmond, VA, graciously donated the design of the board.

And there is more education to see and hear this season. East Carolina Radio (ECR) and MAX Radio of the Carolinas will run public service announcements expanding on the billboard message about not approaching or feeding the wild horses and the harm that both can bring. Many Duck and Corolla retail merchants are donating time on their marquees this summer to promote the wild horse educational messaging. And property owners in the 4×4 area are posting yard signs to reinforce the no feed/no approach messaging. These signs are available at CWHF’s museum gift shop in Corolla.

We invite any and all locals, community and business organizations, restaurants and merchants to join us in spreading this educational initiative. The community support has been overwhelming and heartwarming, and we believe through stepped up efforts to educate the public, tourists and wild horses will have a safer summer season.

520 Old Stoney Road Suite B * P.O. Box 361* Corolla, NC 27927

www.corollawildhorses.org

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

We Have Moved! New Location Status & Updates

We are excited to announce that we have moved to a new area in Corolla. Our address is now 520B Old Stoney Road and is located in the SW corner of the same complex as the Corolla Visitors Center and ABC Store. Like any move, it is a lot of work, but we are extremely enthused about the new location as it is providing us with a larger space and allowing us to completely enhance the Museum & Education Center.

Here are the current schedules (updated August 30, 2018):

 

The Store is open!            Please come visit!   Current hours:  Monday – Friday  10:00 am – 4:00 pm 

                                                   We are open  weekends:  Saturday – Sunday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

 

Museum & Education Center              Our anticipated opening is November 2018

 

Excursions to see the Wild Horses

                                                  Our educational excursions to see the wild horses are offered on a limited,                                                                                                            selective schedule.

                                                  Please call  for details! 

                                                  Reservations are only available by phone or by visiting our gift shop.

 

 

Thank you for your support!

 

 

The Forgotten Horses

For her Girl Scout Gold Award, Krysta Rutherford has produced a beautifully edited and extensively researched film that looks into the present status of the Colonial Spanish mustang in North America. Her project mainly focuses on breeders and advocates who are working to preserve the different strains of Colonial Spanish horses by promoting the breed’s versatility, athleticism, and kind nature.

The main purpose of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund is to keep the Banker horses wild and free in their native habitat. We do this by controlled breeding through the use of non-hormonal contraception, education, habitat preservation, and breed advocacy. One of our goals is to establish a science-based captive breeding program that will be the foundation of a genetically stable population of Banker horses in captivity.

We applaud the hard work these domestic breeders have put into promoting and preserving the Colonial Spanish breed. The objective of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund is to maintain, as closely as possible, the characteristics that make the Banker horses of North Carolina unique. They are some of the last wild Colonial Spanish mustangs left in the world, and their wild status is a big part of what makes them so special.

Learn more about Krysta’s project. 

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The views and opinions expressed in this film are those of the filmmakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the current management of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

The Winter of Our Discontent…

And it’s only January! During the first couple weeks of 2018 we experienced record breaking cold temperatures that led into one of the most significant snow and ice storms that any of us can remember. Luckily, horses and humans weathered the conditions just fine in the grand scheme of things, but the brutal cold has really done a number on our resources. To add to the strain, we are in the process of moving our retail location so our store and Trip of a Lifetime are shut down for the month of January. 

When temperatures drop below freezing (well below freezing in our case – into the single digits!) horses must consume more forage in order to keep warm. Horses are able to warm themselves from the inside out by constantly digesting food. For the horses at the farm, this means they need access to hay 24/7. Over the past few weeks our horses have been burning through a lot more hay than usual and we expect this to be the case for the majority of the winter. Consider our “Hay for a Day” program if you’d like to help us keep the horses fed and warm. A donation of just $24 will feed all 12 horses for one day. 

During this latest cold snap we unfortunately lost two of our water pumps. Despite our best efforts to keep them insulated and warm, the sub-freezing overnight temperatures cracked the pumps. Luckily we still have one that’s operating and we have hoses that can be linked together to reach all of the pastures, but replacing the two broken pumps will be costly. We would also like to have the pump houses, spigots, and pipes winterized a little better, and we are going to run electricity out to all of the pastures so that we can add additional heat sources (and fans in the summer!) if needed. If you’d like to help us out with the plumping and electrical work that needs to be done around the farm, you can make a one time donation via our website. Every little bit helps – give what you can and it will be most appreciated! 

Another thing that would really help us out right now are gift cards to Tractor Supply, Ace Hardware, or Lowes. Now that we know where our “weak” areas are on the farm we have some work to do, including adding additional insulation, purchasing extension cords, heaters, and lamps, and also additional tank heaters for the water, hay nets, and we really need a drag harrow for the pastures to help with manure maintenance when it’s cold like this. Gift cards to Valley Vet Supply would also be greatly appreciated! 

Donations and gift cards can be sent to us at: 

Corolla Wild Horse Fund

PO Box 361

Corolla, NC 27927