Horse Sense

Wild Horses Ride Out the Storm




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North Carolina’s free-roaming wild horse herds on the Outer Banks have “ridden out” their share of storms. When Hurricane Florence struck the area in 2018, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund of Currituck County, where the herd lives, announced on Facebook, “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.” Historians believe the herds, which number about 100 horses, descend from those brought to the New World by European explorers.

Instincts dating back five centuries compel the feral mustangs to either huddle on high ground, butts to the wind, or seek refuge in the maritime forest during storms, say experts. But news has come of a Shackleford Banks horse named Merlin that was fenced in an inundated quarantine site during the storm, according to the Foundation for Shackleford Horses. Merlin somehow survived, and it “may have involved swimming,” says Margaret Poindexter, president of the foundation that co-manages the herd on National Park Service land.


This article appears in the February 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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