Horse nips at dog

A wild horse takes a bite at a dog that had been harassing the herd.

COROLLA, N.C.

At least three dogs harassed and nipped at the Corolla wild horses on separate occasions this week.

But the herds did what they have done for hundreds of years against predators — fight back.

“The horses are pretty good at taking care of themselves,” said Corolla Wild Horse Fund herd manager Meg Puckett.

One video posted on the group’s Facebook page shows a large shaggy white dog chasing behind a herd along the surf. Several horses turned to chase him away and one bared his teeth ready to bite the dog.

If dogs chase a herd too often, horses can become aggressive toward dogs in general, even one on a leash, she said. Horses, dogs and people could get injured in the mix.

“We don’t want anybody getting hurt,” she said.

It was surprising to hear of dogs chasing the horses in three instances in one week, Puckett said. Even coyotes roaming the Currituck Outer Banks are not known to take them on.

“I don’t know why,” she said. “I don’t know what’s different.”

Puckett heard of one instance where a dog may have bitten a horse, Puckett said. She has not spotted any injured animals, she said. But foals and older horses could be vulnerable, she said.

The dogs appeared to be pets that were not on a leash, a violation of a Currituck County ordinance, she said.

“It’s the fault of people for not keeping their dogs under control,” she said.

The Corolla wild horses are a beloved group of about 100 that roam in small harems in roughly 7,000 acres of the Currituck Outer Banks. Stallions, mares and foals galloping over the dunes or along the ocean are one of the most exhilarating sights on the Outer Banks.

A volunteer patrol keeps close watch. Several businesses offer tours to see them.

So to hear of anything bullying or threatening the horses gets immediate reaction.

Nearly 700 people reacted to the Facebook post within a couple of hours.

Jeff Hampton, 252-491-5272, jeff.hampton@pilotonline.com

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