Corolla Wild Horse Fund mourns the loss of Taco

By on October 29, 2021

Stallion died from contaminated water

(Corolla Wild Horse Fund)

Taco (Corolla Wildhorse Fund)

We are deeply saddened to announce the loss of a young stallion this week. Taco, as he was affectionately known, was one of the more recognizable horses in the herd. He stood out from the crowd due to a large lump that had been on his hip since he was about two years old. The lump had nothing to do with his death (it was a sterile abscess that never impacted his quality of life and was monitored closely and regularly by our vet), but most people knew Taco because of it.

Our vet has determined that Taco died from consuming contaminated water. He is the fourth horse in the last two years that we’ve lost due to bacteria or other contaminants in the water.

Taco was only eight years old, and over the summer he managed to steal a large group of mares from another stallion. We were so hopeful that he would produce some offspring; perhaps he still will…there’s always a chance one of those mares is pregnant, though most of them are quite aged so it’s unlikely.

Taco’s dam was Kitty Hawk, who lives on the rescue farm in Grandy (she was part of the group removed in 2018 for habitually going into False Cape State Park in Virginia), and his sire was Flint, who is still alive in the wild. Flint was the sire of Danny, who we tragically lost to choking on an apple in 2020, and also Sebastian, who was born last year and is growing up into a lovely young stallion. The loss of Taco’s genetics from the herd is truly devastating.

We have collected water from various locations in Taco’s territory and will send it out for testing next week. This will give us an idea of the quality of the water and will indicate the presence of contaminants like e. Coli and salmonella. Unfortunately there is not much we can do to rid the water of bacteria but having this information on hand at least gives us an idea of which areas might be more problematic than others. It allows us to keep an eye on the horses in those areas for signs of intestinal distress or other issues. Thankfully this week we have seen all of the horses Taco has recently been associated with and they all seem fine. We are really hoping for an extended, solid freeze this winter.

Every single loss is a tragedy when you have such a small population to begin with, but some hit a bit harder than others. Taco had such a big personality, and so many people became attached to him and helped us keep a constant eye on him. My phone’s predictive text would start filling in Taco’s story automatically because we received so many messages about him. He was a permanent member of our staff’s “make sure you put eyes on this horse today” list, and it will take some time for us to break that habit. Maybe we will never stop looking for him; it’s hard to believe he’s gone.

Rest free and easy, Taco

To learn more about the Corolla Wildhorse Fund or to support them visit


  • hightider

    Too many people are in Carova now and expect the contamination to get worse. Septic tanks, unknown substances flushed into septic tanks, who knows? There has been much written about legal and illegal drugs dumped into toilets that filter into bodies of water. I do know in FL – in what looks like pristine water, the e coli levels are so high you would never want to swim there, much less eat the shellfish. Very sad news and hopefully the necropsy will shed light on Taco’s demise. Carova is no longer a wild place, just another tourist trap and the very thing that elicited the tourists (since it is 95% rentals) will be the first thing to vanish.

    Friday, Oct 29 @ 9:05 pm
  • ImInCarova

    True story, hightider. This once unknown to most, off the map (so to speak) mysterious, wild place is no longer that. Carova was never meant to handle this amount of traffic. Carova Beach is very quickly going to turn into looking a lot like Sandbridge, VA. Paved roads and commercialism are coming soon, and with that the horses will be moved elsewhere.

    Sunday, Oct 31 @ 10:37 pm
  • surf123

    The horses or the humans need to be removed. Preferably the humans would be forced out, but that is not going to happen. If the horses go they can be put in a place where all humans, including interlopers like the Corolla Wild Horse Fund group, can leave them alone and let nature takes it course.

    Monday, Nov 1 @ 3:47 pm
  • hightider

    To Imin and Surf – sadly I agree that the horses should be removed probably to False Cape although the park service will fight along with the people who have a vested interest in making money off them. Protect them from the people who we unfortunately can’t remove. The horse tours are a travesty along with the greedy rental machines. I am a native who spent 30 years in coastal FL and watched how the hordes destroyed Key West and ran the Conchs (locals) out. Fl became unlivable years ago. Carova was the last refuge here, but that is gone now too and will never be the beautiful wild place it was. When I was a kid, they were simply Banker Ponies and we felt sorry for how they drank brack and ate salt hay, covered in flies in the summer and cold in the winter. But they were wild and free and not photo ops for noisy tour buses.

    Tuesday, Nov 2 @ 12:12 am