Wild Horses of Corolla, NC

This post may seem out of left field for my blog, but it is actually quite the opposite. My blog is about anything that is good for the body, mind and soul. I LOVE animals and I feel that caring for them is good for my mind and soul. There is nothing like the unconditional love you receive from a pet or the absolute fervor of another animal loving person. That is why I am writing about visiting the wild horses of Corolla, NC.

If you have ever been to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, you may know about the wild horses that live in the northernmost section. You have to take a 4 wheel drive vehicle to go see them because part of Route 12 in NC is the actual beach. While driving on the beach, you are on Route 12…it’s crazy. You MUST have 4 wheel drive and a high clearance on your car to get to where the horses roam. We had an all wheel drive car with lower clearance so we opted for a wild horse tour.

The tour we chose was Corolla Wild Horse Fund tour.  We chose this one because they are the caretakers of the horses and the proceeds go directly to helping the horses.  It was actually a bit cheaper than the commercial tours.  So glad that we took this tour because we saw lots of horses.

colonial spanish mustangs

The wild horses of Corolla are Colonial Spanish Mustangs that came from, you guessed it, Spain.  When settlers were coming to the “New World” in the 1600s, the Spanish wanted in on it.  They sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and got stuck on sandbars off of Virginia (Jamestown) and NC.  They needed to offload the heaviest items on their ships in order to get off the sandbars so there went the cows, pigs and horses.  Cows and pigs don’t swim, but horses do.  That is where they originated from.  In the early 1920s, there were between 5000-6000 of these horses.  Now there are only about 120 horses left.

important facts

Our tour guide told us so much about the horses and the area they live in.  He said they graze 16 hours a day and can only eat the grass and leaves indigenous to the area.  Any fruits or vegetables offered from people can actually kill them because their digestive systems can’t handle it.  If a horse is very sick or hurt and has to be taken out of the herd, it cannot be returned because it might infect the herd with bacteria it picks up outside their area.  Some stallions can get very aggressive and have to be removed from the herd.  The herd is so small and it needs to be preserved any way possible.

There is another similar herd on the southernmost island below the outer banks.  The Corolla Wild Horse Fund would like to introduce some of those horses into the Corolla group in order to add more blood lines into the herd, thereby growing the herd.  There is a bill in Washington, DC to help protect these wild horses and to get the two groups together in order to grow the herd.  Here’s hoping that that bill gets passed sooner rather than later.

The only reason we got close enough to take pictures was because we were in a tour car.  There is a $500 fine for going too close (50 ft or less), feeding or any type of interacting with the horses.  They are very serious about keeping the herd safe and also keeping people safe…they ARE wild animals.

horses on the beach?


We didn’t see horses on the beach when we were there, but our guide told us they do go on the beach for 2 reasons…to eat the sea oats and to get the bugs off of them.  In one of the photos, you see a white bird near one horse.  That is an egret and they jump on the back on the horses and eat the bugs off them.  The horses actually don’t mind them being there.  If the bugs are really bad, they go down to the beach where it is windier so that they can get the bugs off themselves.

Photo from the Corolla Wild Horse Fund

If you ever visit the OBX, make time to go on this tour.  You will send some great time exploring and learning about these wonderful animals.  With your tour, you also become a member of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.  Money well spent.


  • My daughter has been on that tour and she loved it! I’ve never been and I live in the Carolinas. It’s definitely on my must-do bucket list. I love that the proceeds from the tours help the horses. They are beautiful!

    • One of the reasons we vacationed in this area was to see the horses…love them.

    • Such a great trip…there are also wild horses at Assateague in Maryland.

  • I have not been there, but I have seen the wild horses on Assateague Island. It is so much fun seeing them roam free.

    • I’ve been to Assateague also…love all the wild horses. Assateague is one of my favorite places!!

  • This is neat. I’ve never knew there were fines for getting close to the herd of wild horses. I didn’t realize the herd was so small. A precious treasure indeed and what an awesome opportunity for you and your family to have seen them and make others aware of the plight of the wild horses.

  • This would be amazing to see. I love horses and I think wild horses are just so beautiful to watch. This is definitely going on my must visit list.

    • It was so awesome…there are also wild horses at Assateague in Maryland.

  • Oh my gosh, we’ve never seen wild horses anywhere but we’ve always wanted to! It looks like you had such a magical experience.

    • It is so wonderful. There are also wild horses at Assateague in Maryland.

  • We went to the OBX a few years ago, and I’m so bummed we didn’t have enough time to see the wild horses. Thanks for the post!

  • I didn’t even know there was a tour like this! The horses look so majestic. Definitely going into our bucket list.

    • Definitely a worthwhile experience…I saw on FB that a foal was born yesterday to this herd:)

  • They are such beautiful and graceful animals. In a perfect world they would all be wild and free, and safe from harm.

    • Apparently, the locals are annoyed by them, but I would LOVE to have a horse in my yard!!

  • Wow! This sounds like an amazing tour. I had a dutch warmblood for many years in my 30’s and began competing in Dressage. The peace and joy that horse gave me is hard to describe! Thanks for sharing!

    • The horses that are taken out of the herd are rehabilitated and then can be adopted. The guide said the adoption fee is about $500. So little money for such a beautiful animal. It costs less than my dog did:)

  • We went on this same tour! We were there a couple of years ago with family for a family vacation and took this tour. It was amazing – the truck ride just about broke my liver – haha – but the horses were worth it!

    • We went on a rainy-ish day so the ride wasn’t bad because the sand was packed down:)

  • That is SO cool. I love that they know exactly how they came to be on the beach–such a cool story. Also, “sea oats” are such a funny thing to imagine! I would love to see wild horses on the beach someday!

  • I wish I had done this tour when I went to the Outer Banks. This sounds so cool. Reminds me of the wild horses on Cumberland Island Georgia.

    • I didn’t know there were wild horses in Georgia!! I know there are some on Assateague in Maryland.

  • This is wonderful that there are people who make sure that these wild horses do not go extinct! It would be so nice to be able to see them up close. If we ever get to NC, I’d make sure we make a trip to the outer banks.

    • I’ve always wanted to go to Puerto Rico and now that I know they have wild horses, it’s a definite!!!

  • I must admit that I am more of a dog lover, but horses sure are beautiful. I saw the most stunning Cavalia show and it made me so in awe of horses. This tour sounds amazing, too.

  • I’ve heard about this but I’ve never actually gotten to see them in NC! I love horses, they’re such beautiful animals 🙂

    • I also love horses and that is why we chose the tour that supports their safety.

  • My daughter would absolutely freak out to see these horses. She is my horse girl through and through. They are so beautiful!

    • You can adopt the horses that are taken out of the herd once they have been rehabilitated:)

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge