One of the most exciting things to do when visiting the Outer Banks is to take a trip north of the paved road in Corolla and see the Corolla Wild Horses. Unique in appearance, beautiful to see in person, they are an extraordinary reminder of the history of the region.
Genetic testing has established that they are a direct link to the Spanish Mustangs of the Conquistadors–the last descendants of the Iberian horse, a breed that is now extinct. Although no one is certain how the horses came to the Currituck Banks, the most likely explanation is they escaped from a sinking Spanish galleon sometime in the 16th century. The Spanish were the first European nation to explore coastal North Carolina.
At one time the herd was much larger, ranging across the entire Currituck Banks, but loss of habitat and collisions between horse and car have reduced the herd to around 110. The horses have been moved north of the paved section of NC 12 to protect them.
Managed by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a number of local ordinances have been put into place to protect both horse and humans.
The law requires people to remain at least 50’ from the horses. Looking at them in a peaceful setting, it may be hard to picture them as wild, but they are, and for everyone’s protection, it’s probably a good idea to keep your distance.
Do not feed them. At least one colt has died from food it could only have gotten from humans and other horses have suffered from eating food they have a difficult time digesting.
There are a number of outfitters that provide Wild Horse Safaris–which is probably the best way to view the herd.