Bramble, Billie, Ringo and Raymond: How Corolla wild horses get their names

There are Bramble and Billie and Raymond and Ringo.

And Junior, Fabio, Gus and Anne Bonny.

Almost every one of Corolla’s wild horses has a name.

It makes them easier to identify and keep up with, gives them personality and helps with raising money for care, said Meg Puckett, herd manager for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

The names come from marks on their coat, where they were born, what color they are — or sometimes they’re random and have no special meaning.

With help from others, Puckett makes a list of names each year in anticipation of five or six foals. Just like for hurricanes, each year the names start with a different letter of the alphabet.

“It’s not quite as involved as people think,” she said.

The wild horses roam the dunes, meadows and maritime forests of Currituck County’s northern Outer Banks. Hundreds of social media videos show them galloping along the shore or munching lawns of million-dollar beachfront homes. Tours take thousands of visitors annually in big open-air trucks to view them in their habitat.

People like to call them by name, but the horses don’t care and don’t respond like a dog would, Puckett said.

All but about 10 of the 103 wild horses have names. Born years ago, those that have avoided being named so far do a good job staying out of sight, living mostly in the marshes and woods. They will have their day soon.

Every horse has an identification number and eventually will have DNA samples on record, Puckett said. They have samples from about one third of those in the wild.

Some wild horse names are well known. The late Little Red Man defied barriers like fences to go into Corolla village and make mischief.

The one named Star gained fame from paintings and photographs before getting struck and killed by a vehicle in the 1990s. Gus is the stallion brought to Currituck from Shackleford Banks to father foals and diversify the gene pool. So far, no luck, but he’s still young.

Some horses are lucky enough to have two names. Acorn got his name from a forehead marking shaped like an oak leaf. But tour guides like to call him Ringo, though it’s unclear how that got started.

Tour guides love to find and point out Fabio, named after the long-haired, muscled Italian model of the same name. The stallion is large with a flowing mane and oversees a large harem of mares. But, on paper, his given name is Rambler.

One horse never grew much and has problems with leg ligaments. Puckett has always called him Squirt. Not regal, but fitting, she said.

Anne Bonny is missing an eye and what’s left there looks sort of like a dark patch, so she got a pirate’s name.

Raymond is the aging mule who was the offspring of a wild horse mare and a donkey. Raymond lived among the wild herd for 20 years and thought himself a regal stallion. He didn’t know it, but mules can’t sire baby horses like stallions can. He lives on the Grandy farm now.

Starting last year, names follow the alphabet.

“That way we can keep better track of what year they were born,” Puckett said.

In 2020, all six new horses but one were given names beginning with ‘A.’ The lone exception was Sebi, named for a boy who died in a house fire with his mother. A children’s book written in dedication to the mother and son portrays them as wild horses.

Bramble is the latest foal born this year, joining five others starting with the letter ‘B’ including Billie, Bee, Betsy, Bridget and Benjamin.

Bramble’s name comes from horses grazing among the bramble of briers and weeds.

Betsy gets her name from Betsy Dowdy, the young girl who rode a wild pony from the Outer Banks to Edenton to warn colonists the British were in Great Bridge.

More foals are expected this year, so what’s the next name?

Maybe Barlow for the English explorer of the 1580s. Or maybe something less remarkable, like Buddy.

Jeff Hampton, 757-446-2090,