How many horses do you see? Outer Banks photo proves horses are masters of disguise
OUTER BANKS (Mark Price/Charlotte Observer) - A photo of what appears to be a single wild horse posted Sunday on Facebook is giving away one of the secrets feral herds developed to survive on the harsh Outer Banks of North Carolina.
“How many horses do you see?” the Corolla Wild Horse Fund asked, after posting the photo.
Turns out there are six hidden in the brown sea grass, the fund says.
The other five are so expertly hidden that the fund had to post a second photo circling them to prove it to the 100-plus people who tried guessing.
“I’ve made myself dizzy trying to count ‘em with my magnifying glass,” Howard Crumpler posted on the fund’s Facebook page.
An ability to hide in plain sight is one of the many skills the horses have developed over five centuries of living on the barrier islands. Historians believe they ended up there after crawling out of shipwrecks or being abandoned by early settlers.
Among those skills is an expert ability to swim from island to island. They know how to find fresh water springs on islands surrounded by salt water, where to find food in the winter and how to survive hurricanes by huddling on higher ground and facing their butts to the wind, experts say.
The biggest threat of late to the herds appears to be climate change.
Rising sea levels and the increasing intensity of coastal storms were blamed in the deaths of 28 wild horses last year, after they were washed off Cedar Island by Hurricane Dorian’s storm surge.
Warmer winters are also a danger, because they change the horses’ cold weather routine, the fund says.
When temperatures rose into the 70s last month, the wild horses began leaving the maritime forests and sleeping on the beaches to escape bugs, which put them in the path of all-terrain-vehicles, McClatchy News reported in January.