Flying Fish

Running Wild
by Nicole Carlozo -- July 12th, 2011

My continued explorations along the North Carolina coast recently led me to the shores of Corolla and one of North Carolina’s three wild horse populations.

Faced with the 4th of July holiday, a broken AC unit in my office building, a painstakingly long wait on obtaining government water-quality data, and a visit from my sister, I recently set out on a few days of vacation from my summer duties at The Nature Conservancy office here on the Outer Banks.  Among trips to various locations such as Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Currituck Lighthouse, and Jockey’s Ridge State Park (home of the tallest natural sand dunes on the East Coast), we ventured north.

The rain couldn’t stop us from our goal: setting our eyes on the Outer Banks’ wild horses. Although the weather kept us from flying our newly bought kites or parasailing along the Sound, our determination to stay active paid off. The storm clouds drifted away just in time to take a Wild Horses Tour.

We piled into an open Jeep and set out along the dunes and sandy shoreline, no roads in sight, heading to the Wild Horse Sanctuary. This region of N.C. is only accessible via 4-wheel drive. Our trip north was rough as we barreled over tire tracks, our eyes peeled for dolphins, sea birds, horses, and other wildlife along the Atlantic. Eventually, our driver turned down a sandy road towards Currituck Sound and we laid eyes on four different groups of horses.

Two bachelor horses.

Two bachelor horses.

We didn’t see any running or frolicking herds along the beach. Instead, we observed calm groups feeding back within the dunes.

A mother peeking between vegetation at her foal.

A mother peeking between vegetation at her foal.

The Banker Horses, thought to be descendants of Spanish Barb and Arabian horses, were brought to North America in the 16th century.  Failed colonization attempts due to illness and Native American conflicts led to the establishment of wild herds. Another population exists on Shackleford Banks, a 2,500-acre barrier island east of Beaufort.

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