Spring has Sprung for the Corolla Wild Horses

April 28, 2020

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 it’s a reminder of how precious our wildlife is. We are so excited to share that just so far this year, we’ve 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! That’s 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 they’ve 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 it’s 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 haven’t 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 year’s 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, it’s 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 they’ve 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?

Yes, the managers of the herd, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, will name the horses.

How do they decide on a name?

They have come up with a great naming system that actually gives information about the foal. Pretty neat! Every season the CWHF will choose a letter. All the foals’ names for that season will start with that same letter. This will, in subsequent years, be an indicator of age. Last year’s letter (2019) was “R”. This letter was chosen in honor of  an iconic stallion who passed that year. His name was Roamer. The foals of 2019 bore names like Renzie, Rosie, Riptide, and Rabbit. In future years, when we refer to Renzie or Rosie, we will be clear on their age, as we know “R” was 2019.

What’s this year’s naming letter?

This year’s letter is “A”. This letter was chosen in honor of the death of another icon, Amadeo. He was a legendary blind horse who was taken into captivity and cared for at the Corolla Wild Horse Fund’s rehabilitation farm. Which brings us to..

What we’ve all been waiting for:

All blurbs are from the Corolla Wild Horse Fund’s birth announcements

Arturo

Photo by Corolla Wild Horse Fund

April 4, 2020 “We’re estimating the little one to be about a week old. His mother is North Star, and her parents are Virginia Dare and Lucky Duck, who both live at the rescue farm now. This colt is carrying on his family’s legacy!

There were two names we couldn’t decide on. The first choice was Arthur or Arturo.  Our second choice was Ananias, after Ananias Dare, father of (human) Virginia Dare, of Lost Colony fame. Rather than choosing between the two, we figured a special boy like this deserves a special name. So welcome to the world Arturo Ananias Dare!

After a decade of carefully managing the herd by collecting DNA data, targeted contraception, and thoughtful record keeping, we are able to track entire families. We are now in a position where we are ready to work with genetic specialists to create a registry of Corolla horses that documents family lines like this one. This will help us determine matches for captive breeding as well as help us manage our targeted breeding program for the wild horses.

Arturo is a special foal for many reasons – the first of 2020, the first for North Star, a ray of light during a dark time in the world, and a healthy addition to a herd that needs new members. But perhaps the most special thing about him, particularly to those of us who fought to keep his grandparents and uncle Mateo on the beach and then worked hard to make sure their transition to captivity was filled with understanding and love, Arturo is proof that life goes on. Legacies continue with careful management and even the horses that can no longer stay in the wild leave their mark on the herd. They all have a story, and a purpose, and we are dedicated to protecting them for many, many generations to come.”

Alma

Photo by Gene Flood of Corolla, NC

April 20, 2020 “We are excited to officially announce the birth of the second foal of 2020!

This little one was born about a week ago. Determining the gender has been tricky but based on what we’ve been able to observe so far we are pretty sure it’s a filly. This is the first foal for mom Orlanda and both are doing well! Her father Rambler is very attentive, and she’s got lots of aunts to look after her too.

The new foal’s name is Alma, which means soul in Spanish, and translates to “lifts the spirit” in English. The name is also of Greek derivation, meaning “salt water.”

Welcome to the beach, Alma!”

Amelia

Photo by Jennifer Early

April 25, 2020 “Welcome baby number three! This little girl was born Friday night, and she and mom are both doing very well! Her name is Amelia.

If you are on the 4×4 please remember to give moms and foals plenty of space. It’s critical that they have the time to bond with each other. Parents can be very aggressive when it comes to protecting their young, too. If you’re lucky enough to come across any of the foals please snap a photo from 50ft or more and then be on your way. Hovering and circling around them is very stressful.

Thank you for helping us keep the horses safe!”

What an exciting time of year for our horses and animal lovers alike. Southern Shores Realty has houses in Corolla, on the convenience of the paved area, respectfully away from horse habitat, but just a short drive to them. Check out what we have available!

Published by Kelly Knutson 4/28/2020

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