Where do all the wild horses go during a storm?

Where do all the wild horses go during a storm?

By Stephanie Velazquez

 The horses in Vieques that roam freely find their own food and water around the island and they know exactly how to take care of themselves during storms and hurricanes. 


After hurricane Maria in 2017, some of us noticed for the first time that all the wild horses seemed extremely tired, and of course they must have been after a category 5 hurricane, while being out in the open without shelter.  Usually foals lay on the ground to rest during the day from time to time, but this time both adult horses and foals were on the ground resting for hours. This raised a few questions, Do they get hurt? How can they handle the storm?  Where do they go? 


This year, 2022, during storm Fiona, some of us got on the road to check out the Muelle de Pescadores (Fishermen Pier) a little after we found out from the local news that the storm had passed Vieques. There was not one horse on any road. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t have even thought that there were wild horses here. 



 Do they get hurt? 


Horses may get hurt, especially if they are near a cliff, it can happen that they slide down. However, this doesn’t happen often during storms if they aren’t  in a fenced property that has a cliff. Unfortunately, more horse deaths happen on the road with cars driving faster than they should, giving the horses no time to react.



How can they handle the storm? 


We like to joke around when we say that we think horses are a lot smarter than people. Have you seen them look both ways before crossing the street in town? During hurricane Irma in 2017 a mare (female horse) was in the yard with her foal, which was under a year old, they would move from one side of the property to the other as the wind blew stronger where they were.  This venture occurred all night until the storm had passed. They certainly know where to go and when to make a move either in a fenced property or out in the wild.


 Where do they go in the wild? 


The herd goes into the woods to find what they feel is the safest area. They press together and face opposite from where the wind is blowing, tails toward the wind. Winds do not consistently blow from one direction during a storm, therefore, the horses do have to constantly move as the wind blows, like the mare with her foal in the yard would move from side to side during storm Irma. They get no rest, whatsoever, fighting for their lives, hence the horses resting all day after Hurricane Maria. 


 

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