OUTER BANKS, NC — Mules are known to be stubborn, but one living among wild coastal mustangs in North Carolina is especially so. Raymond, the last known mule in the herd, refuses to die, a fate the folks who protect the herd were sure he had met when he disappeared last winter.
Not only that, the sterile animal — that’s the case with all mules, not just Raymond — has acquired a harem of three mares. That’s impressive given animal specialists with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, which exists solely to protect the last remaining herd of Spanish mustangs on the northern Outer Banks, had to drug Raymond last fall and saw down his hooves.
They’d become so deformed the mule could barely walk.
“He’d lost all of his mares because he wasn’t mobile enough to keep up with them or defend them,” the CWHF said on its Facebook page. “Not anymore! He’s got three lovely ladies with him now. No one tell him he’s sterile, OK?
“In all seriousness, this is such a rewarding thing to see,” the post continued. “We weren’t sure if Raymond would even survive the winter, so for him to be sound and thriving now is honestly one of the best (and most remarkable) things that’s happened this year.”
Meg Puckett, the herd manager, told the Charlotte Observer the mule even she had given up for dead fought off a much younger stallion for the mares and won. “That’s saying a lot,” she said
“A domestic horse would not have survived. He was just too stubborn to die,” Puckett said. “It’s that ornery, stubborn side that has made him one of the best known of the herd. Everyone knows Raymond.”
When the mustang protection fund posted the happy news about Raymond’s triumphant return, folks who know him chimed in with their own stories about the mule.
“I love Raymond, the mule who thinks he is a mustang,” Ann Litzelman wrote.
“Raymond, don’t turn your back on your ladies,” added Louise Holt Ottney.
“Lody, he is a piece of work,” Estelita Buie wrote. “He harasses me so bad when we’re there. This dude has trapped me in the outside shower before. Didn’t think I’d ever get inside to get dressed.”
To that, Shirley Stocker replied that it “sounds like no woman is safe from Raymond,” saying the story was “too funny except if he has you trapped.”
“He has trapped me in the shower, ran me out of the yard while I was laying in a chair, harassed me on the beach, etc.” Buie wrote “Truly a jackass.”
Lisa Novak wrote Raymond’s story “brings so many thoughts to mind, like those old Charles Atlas comic book ads about the wimp on the beach, although Raymond got picked on, losing his mares to bully stallions because he wasn’t fit.”
“Then the CWHF comes along and gets his feet fixed and Raymond is back in shape, knocking off the bully stallions on the beach and getting his beach bunny mares back,” she wrote.
Angie Em thinks the CWHF should sell T-shirts reading, “in a world of mustangs, be a Raymond.”
“Raymond!” Melissa Smith Oldland echoed. “It’s OK to be different!”
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund says early Spanish explorers brought the first mustangs to the Outer Banks about 400 years ago. Until recent years, the Outer Banks, a string of sand dunes that protect the mainland of North Carolina from the Atlantic Ocean, were some of the most isolated and underdeveloped areas of the country.
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The Spanish Mustang Registry says the Corolla strain are as pure as “literally pure” as they were when Spaniards brought them to the area. The herd numbers about 100.
Farmers working the barrier islands brought mules later, and some got loose and mixed in with the mustangs. When Raymond does die, some of the history of the area will disappear, Puckett told the Charlotte newspaper.
Corolla Wild Horse Fund photo used with permission