Benjamin, the most recent colt and addition to the Corolla Wild Horse herd.

Benjamin, the most recent colt and addition to the Corolla Wild Horse herd.

There must be something in the air because the Corolla Wild Horse herd seems to be growing faster than ever. Colts number four and five were just born this month. That’s great news for the herd.

The Corolla Wild Horses are a direct genetic link to the mustangs the Spanish Conquistadores rode. As horses go, they are a smaller breed and they were often disparaged by the the supposedly more knowledgeable experts of the 16th and 17th centuries.

But the fact is, they are strong, smart and will keep going when almost every other horse has given up.

No one is quite sure how they got to the Outer Banks. What we do know is that by the time of the American Revolution the herd was well-established and known to locals as “Banker” horses.

Their stamina was legendary.

The Tale of Betsy Dowdy and her Banker Horse

No one knows if the ride of Betsy Dowdy on her Banker horse Black Bess is all fiction, somewhat true or historic fact.

The story goes that in December of 1775 Betsy Dowdy overheard her father and friends talking about a mixed Tory and British force that was marching to seize Great Bridge in what is now Chesapeake.

The feeling was without reinforcements the newly formed Continental Army troops would be overwhelmed and northeastern North Carolina would be cut off from the rest of the nascent nation.

Betsy snuck out to the barn, saddled Black Bess, and rode 50 miles across swamp, marsh and a river to Perquimans County where Continental troops were gathered—a distance of some 50 miles.

According to legend, horse and rider made the trip in time to arrive in the morning.

The Continental troops stationed at Perquimans did march for Great Bridge, although, as it turned out, they were not needed. The Loyalist leaders underestimated the size of the local forces arrayed against them. They also discounted the weapons they had and their ability to stand and fight.

As a consequence they were handily defeated.

However, the Perquimans contingent did arrive in time to reinforce the Continental troops to insure the bridge would be held.

There is no record of a girl and a horse showing up on December 9, 1775 at the Perquimans camp. However, there is no record either of an order telling the troops to move.

So the mystery continues, and it may be that a girl and her banker horse played an unsung role in the the history of our nation.

The Corolla Wild Horses are just one of many delights to be seen on the Outer Banks. Stay with us at Brindley Beach Vacations and begin your exploration.

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