Wild Horses of Outer Banks, North Carolina

Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs in Outer Banks, NC

North Carolina is filled with rich history, natural beauty, and a seemingly endless variety of wildlife. It only seems natural that wild horses would be roaming the Outer Banks.

You may be familiar with this area because it was the home of the Wright Brothers’ first flight.

Many people don’t realize the Outer Banks is home to Wild Spanish Mustangs roaming freely on thousands of acres of public and private land in the Currituck Banks section. These horses have lived on their own for almost five centuries tenaciously surviving this harsh and unforgiving environment.

While their exact history still remains a mystery and, as with most legends, one can only speculate on how they arrived on North American shores.

We know that as early as the 1500s, Spanish ship’s logs record horses and other livestock being pushed overboard to lighten the load of grounded ships.

Some people believe that these amazing creatures actually swam ashore when ships sank off the North Carolina coast or when ships were in distress.

Other people have speculated that failed colonists abandoned the horses they originally brought across with them when they inevitably returned to Europe.

Few creatures evoke such a mystique and conjure a sense of independence and freedom like wild horses.

This herd in Outer Banks is North Carolina’s state horse.

By the early 20th century the popularity of this rugged landscape as a vacation mecca had taken over much of the prime Outer Banks land. Eventually the National Park Service took control over most of what was left, pushing the wild mustangs into more isolated havens. The story of people consuming land and pushing out wild horses is a familiar one.

Now there are but three groups of these intriguing and mysterious horses left. There is a fourth group which started from Shackleford and Ocracoke stock, though now considered “feral” because of mixed bloodlines with some thoroughbred stock, they still clearly carry the tenacious traits of their wild Spanish Mustang roots.

If you are near the Outer Banks, these wild horses are worth your time.

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