Posted on 4/28/2020

Spring has Sprung for the Corolla Wild Horses

Photo: Bruce Wilkins 2019

Spring is here, and with that brings some pretty amazing things; bird migrations, softshell crab season, blooming Dogwood, surf swells, and, most adorable of all: wild horse foaling! 'Tis the season for the fuzzy, lanky and heart melting baby horses. Foaling is the season of birth in our wild herd and its a reminder of how precious our wildlife is. We are so excited to share that just so far this year, weve already had 3 births confirmed in our Corolla herd! Names and photos listed below. Foaling season begins in the spring and lasts the duration of the summertime. This also coincides with wild horse mating season. That being said, spring through summer is the best time to view the wild horses, as it is their most active time of year. How exciting that it also just so happens to be our tourist season as well!

Foals of 2020 as of 4/28. Descriptions listed later in artcle.
Photos L-R: Corolla Wild Horse Fund, Gene Flood, Jennifer Early

Awesome, tell me more!

After a year of mama carrying up and down the dunes, through the forest, and along the shore, the foal is finally ready to step onto the sandy beach itself. Yes, you read that right, after a year. Mama will be pregnant for 11-12 months. Whew! Thats a long time.

Once born, if the baby is a female, she will be called a filly, and if male, a colt. The fillies will typically be a bit larger in size than the colts, and will grow faster.

Like all mothers, they are protective of their babies. They have no hesitations in breaking away from the harem to lay low with their baby during the intensity of mating season. This can sometimes make them elusive to humans, and sometime the foals can be hard to spot. It's all for the betterment of the baby, who will hug onto mama's side and nurse until they can ween into foraging.

Once they have weened themselves, they will have a typical banker horse specialized diet where they will eat sea oats, milfoil, persimmon, acorns, and other indigenous food sources. Their lanky limbs will fill out quickly and may appear to be nearly full sized by 1 year!

Always give lots of space for wild horses, especially with newborns

Once theyve matured, the filly will stay with her mother and her harem (family), while a colt would get "kicked out". The colt is kicked out once its reached maturity, because nearly all harems will consist of only a single stallion (mature male). Having more than one in a harem is a mating threat. As such, the colt will break away from the harem, and freely roam for a while. If he is lucky, he will latch up with, and bond to a bachelor harem. A bachelor harem is a group of single males who have broken away from their original harem and havent been able to find a new harem of their own yet. To find their own harem, they must impress the ladies with fighting skills and prove themselves stronger than their resident stallion.

In the meantime, these bachelors will offer companionship as well as skill-building, as they actually practice fighting with each other. This will build up strength, technique, and confidence to go out and try to fight a stallion with a harem. If this bachelor beats the resident stallion, he will take the male position in the harem. This gives him the ability to mate, thus completing the circle of the mating season and as his offspring will be born in the next season.

Question time

How many foals are born per year?

Well, this number varies. It really just depends on the previous years mating season.  Last year, there were 5 foals. Who knows, this year it could only be these 3, or could be 7. Since they are wild, its hard to say for certain. There is a breeding program, because, keep in mind, that these horses are the last of this bloodline. Our Corolla horses are some of the only remaining purebred Colonial Spanish Mustangs left in existence. So preservation of their genetics is very important.

Who can become a mama?

Mares who will have a healthy birth and rearing! Meaning, those of appropriate age who do not already have young foal. Mares will be administered a contraceptive if they are too young for a viable birth, too old for a healthy pregnancy, or if theyve recently had a foal. The latter is so they can focus on rearing and nursing their young, thus allowing for the healthiest offspring. Remember, it's all about the overall health of the herd!

Are they given a name?