Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wild Horses of the Outer Banks


Every little girl of my generation read and loved Misty of Chincoteague, with its wild horses and pony penning. I doubt little girls read it still, it is an old-fashioned sort of book. Pity. My sister and I even went to Chincoteague for the Pony Swim years ago. What I didn't know until I got to North Carolina, although it is not a secret, was that there were wild horses on the very northern most section of the Outer Banks. There are photos on postcards and prints in shops, even wild horse tours. It was intriguing. Since we had a 4 wheel drive truck, we decided to go see for ourselves.

We drove north of Corolla, past the big fancy ocean-front homes, and out onto the beach and from there 11 miles to Carova. Pulling off the beach through the soft sand we found an isolated community, where wild horses wander down sand-packed roads and nibble the scarce vegetation. But for something so large, they are not easy to see; we had to search for them, hanging out the car windows to follow hoof prints in the sand and eying piles of horse manure trying to determine if they were fresh. But find them we did, tucked amidst the scrubby shrubs and strolling down sandy roads.


They are definitely wild if wild needs uncared for; there are signs that proclaim "No Feeding" and "No Approaching". But they were not particularly upset about cars and they often wandered through yards (such as they were) so they were acclimated to people. All the ones I saw had shaggy coats, were thin-ish, as would be expected, I suppose, and some had scars.

I was expecting more of the pinto pony type like the ones on Assateague but these were all solid colors. There is something resilient and romantic about horses that still roam wild after their ancestors jumped ship 400 years in the past.


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2 comments:

Arija said...

The first one is just wonderfu with that perfectly symmetrical mark on his forehead. Great to see them in the wild. They still have their winter coats on and have been on short rations during the winter months, so their condition is not surprising.

Martha said...

Interesting, I knew about the horses off the Georgia coast but I thought that was the only place. There are many wild horses in Nevada and create a problem by over grazing fagile habitat.