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.
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.