The dangerous side of Outer Banks wild stallions was put on dramatic display over the weekend when a horse brawl erupted on a Corolla beach.
Photos shared Sunday on Facebook show the two horses kicking, biting and throwing their bodies at each other as stunned 4X4 drivers watched from the safety of their vehicles.
“Acorn and Junior were having a very serious conversation about something — most likely mares. A great reminder of how very wild and very powerful these amazing animals are,” Meg Puckett of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund posted on Facebook.
“They aren’t actually trying to kill each other — just establish dominance. Of course, a bite that’s not a big deal to a horse could kill a human,” Puckett wrote. “This is very natural behavior for stallions. So while they do often walk away with injuries, they’re very rarely life-threatening or require help from us.”
There are about 100 wild horses in the Corolla herd, and the older stallions are known to fight over mares and turf in the spring. Additional herds are on islands to the south, including the Shackleford Banks.
Local laws dictate humans must stay at least 50 feet away from the horses — or risk being hurt. Laws also prevent people from feeding the horses, which have been known to choke to death on unfamiliar foods like apples and carrots.
Erin Millar of Virginia used a zoom lens to capture about a dozen photos of the horse brawl on Corolla’s 4X4 beach, and she shared them on Facebook.
The fight was short, Millar said, and 4X4 drivers “stopped right away” to avoid getting too close to the action.
“Everyone was a safe ... distance away,” she posted on Facebook. “The horses ran in front of the trucks who immediately stopped. ... After the quick scene the horses were calm and fine and hung around!”
The photos stirred controversy on social media about whether drivers violated laws by getting too close.
However, that’s not the case, according to Puckett.
“The trucks are not too close. Horses start fighting, traffic stops moving and waits them out. This is life on the 4X4 and no one in these photos is doing anything wrong or against the law,” Puckett posted.
“If the horses run close to a parked truck, that’s somewhat unavoidable,” she continued. “Not everything is black and white, cut and dry. We all have to live with each other and sometimes that means compromise.”
The two horses involved in the brawl were not seriously hurt, Puckett said. And if they had been, the fund would have stepped in with medical help, she said.
“This is all in a normal days work for a stallion. They may get wounds that look bad, and even scar, but 99% of the time they heal up just fine,” Puckett wrote.