Outer Banks wild horse, struggling without his family, taken to farm
By Kari Pugh | Editor
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund rescued a foal from the wild after he was found struggling without his family.
At the end of February, the group learned that Brio, a horse born last summer, seemed to be alone.
“While he was understandably calling for his mother and the other horses, he did not seem to be in any immediate physical danger,” herd manager Meg Puckett wrote in a Thursday Facebook post.
“Since he was technically old enough to be weaned, we consulted with the vet and decided not to intervene right away, and wait to see if he joined back up with the group that contains his dad Rocky, grandmother, and Betsy, who was also born last year. His mom was nowhere to be found.”
The organization, which manages the herd of about 100 wild mustangs roaming the northernmost beaches of the Outer Banks, watched Brio for about a week.
“And while he did settle down and stop calling for his mom, he never moved very far from the place where he was first spotted,” Puckett wrote.
Brio’s dad and the rest of the family, minus his mother, were within eyesight several times earlier this month, and he never showed any interest in them, nor they in him.
A few days later, caretakers found Brio becoming weak and lethargic. He had lost weight and was wobbly in his back legs.
“It was clear that Brio was certainly not going to thrive on his own, and most likely would not survive,” Puckett wrote.
Fund workers caught him and took him to their rescue farm in Grandy, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was started on antibiotics and has a follow-up appointment this week about his legs.
Puckett said they’ve already seen improvement, with Brio more alert and aware of his surroundings and feeling better in general.
Caretakers have found Brio is small and immature for his age and does not seem to have developed proper social skills when it comes to interacting with other horses.
“This alone put him at great risk of being injured or killed in the wild,” Puckett said.
What happened to Brio’s mother remains a mystery. The two were last seen together a few weeks ago and both seemed to be in decent shape.
“It’s possible she weaned him, or left him behind because she could tell he was sick. It’s also possible that she has died,” Puckett said. “We have been keeping a close eye out for her, but the majority of the area where they lived is very remote and difficult to access.”
Puckett said it’s always devastating to have to remove a horse from the wild, but caretakers are “cautiously optimistic” he will pull through.
Horses that are removed from the beach can’t be returned to the wild. After being treated, the mustangs are acclimated to humans and being fed, and are vaccinated.
If you’d like to help with Brio’s care and rehabilitation, you can donate directly through the Corolla Wild Horse Fund’s Facebook page.
Kari Pugh, firstname.lastname@example.org