Ahead of the powerful Category 4 storm, officials of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, which manages the herd, were confident.
“Wild horses on the barrier islands of Outer Banks in the Currituck area near Corolla, North Carolina, used their instincts.” That’s according to Meg Puckett, herd manager.
“The horses are now doing their normal thing, grazing, socializing,” Puckett verified. “They’re wondering what us crazy humans are all worked up over.”
Without help, even in the face of heavy rain and hurricane-force winds, the mustangs were safest in their natural habitat.
“They were better off than if humans would have intervened to whisk them away,” Puckett insisted.
“We do everything that we can to protect them, but in situations like this, these horses have such natural intuition,” Puckett said. “They’re so resourceful, and they have an incredibly strong will to live.
“The horses have lived on this barrier island 500 years, and are equipped to deal with rough weather,” Puckett continued. “They know where to go to stay high and dry. They’re in better shape right now than most humans scrambling with storm preparations and aftermath.”
“We are lucky to have missed the worst of the storm,” Puckett said. “The herd has had no losses. We were so, so lucky.”
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund also manages a farm of 18 wild horses that have been removed from the herd because of illness, injury or habituation. “There was no damage to the farm either,” Puckett said.
“As for the wild herd, they found higher ground and grouped together against the wind and rain,” Puckett explained. “We’ve always had people on the island keeping an eye on them.
“So far it’s been business as usual for them, out grazing in all the normal spots,” she said. “The horses are back out at all their usual haunts.”
“We are breathing a sigh of relief,” Puckett added. “We definitely appreciate all of the outpouring of support during these treacherous times.”
These mustangs are a breed of feral horses called the Banker Horse, according to definition. Small and hardy with a docile temperament, the Banker Horse descended from domesticated Spanish horses.
Possibly brought to the Americas in the 16th century, the ancestral foundation bloodstock may have become feral after surviving shipwrecks. Or, the horses could have been abandoned on the island by exploratory expeditions.
Although they’re not natives, and can trample plants and ground-nesting animals, the mustangs are kept for their historical significance.
The mustangs survive grazing marsh grasses, which supply them with water as well as food, supplemented by temporary freshwater pools.
To prevent overpopulation and inbreeding, and to protect their habitat from being overgrazed, the horses are managed. The National Park Service, the state, and private organizations including the Corolla Wild Horse Fund look after the horses.
The horses are monitored for diseases, and safeguarded from traffic on North Carolina Highway 12.