The horse, already blind in one eye, had its other eye damaged in a fight with another stallion May 2 near the small community of Corolla in Currituck County. Karen McCalpin, director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, told The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot the injured older stallion ran into the ocean and was caught in a strong current that carried him away from the beach and more than a mile down the shore.
The wild horse reached a sandbar where he was able to get his footing, allowing lifeguards to use rescue buoys to push the horse from behind and gradually guide him to land, McCalpin said.
Chief Sylvia Wolff said saving a horse was a first for the Corolla rescue unit.
The stallion, since named Amadeo, meaning "blessed by God," is recovering but remains nearly blind and will not return to the wild herd.
"He's going to be our responsibility for the rest of his life," Wolff said. "He can't go back."