Outer Banks’ Wild Horses

Emma B.

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This summer, I visited the Outer Banks (If you don’t know where that is, it’s a thin, long island off the coast of North Carolina and part of Virginia). I went on a guided horse tour, where you go on a Jeep/truck type vehicle and go on Outer Banks’ 4×4 beaches with a tour guide. After that, there are about eleven miles of beach you can drive on and see these horses. 

In the 1500s, the first explorers arrived to explore Outer Banks. However, they were very bad boat drivers and hit a sandbar somewhere off the North Carolinan coast. The boat was too heavy to be driven out of the sandbar, and the solution was to let the horses it was carrying off the ship, into the Atlantic Ocean. These horses were Spanish Mustangs, and they were very strong swimmers, and made it to the Outer Banks. They lived there in peace for many years, until people started settling in the Outer Banks. The horses still roamed wild, but after a while, when roads were built in Outer Banks, people worried for the horses’ safety. They decided they should keep the horses on the beach, so they could continue to live peacefully. 

To this day, they are the only Spanish Mustangs left in the world that are almost 100% (99.9%, to be precise) pure-bred, meaning they have only mated and given birth with other Spanish Mustangs in the area. There are sanctuaries dedicated only to these Spanish Mustangs, where they can roam free and not be disturbed. Outside of these sanctuaries, they can go wherever they please on the 4×4 beaches of Corolla and Carova, the two northernmost towns in the Outer Banks. 

There are next to no restrictions on where they can go. They may go right next to the beach houses on the beach and take a nap, or graze on grass, or just chill out. There are only restrictions on what humans can do to the horses. You may not get within 50 feet of these horses, because after all, they are wild. It is also illegal to approach the horses, attempt to ride them, or touch them. They also have special diets, so you may not feed them any human food, because it is dangerous to them.

These horses are currently listed as a critically endangered/ nearly extinct breed  and there are only about 100 left. But recently, thanks to Hurricane Dorian, twenty eight horses were drowned in flood waters. An official count should be released soon, and the herd should breed again in the spring of 2020. 

These horses are amazing, and extremely interesting. I really loved going on my trip to Outer Banks, and I’m so glad that I got to see these Spanish Mustangs, and if you ever go to the Outer Banks, I hope you do too!

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