Wild steeds roam the beaches of the outer Banks and also Crystal Coast. Take it a guided tourism to watch them at Corolla and Shackleford Banks.

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For 500 years, the most enduring – and endearing – occupants of the external Banks, the wild colonial Spanish Mustangs, have dubbed this sliver that land between sound and sea home.

They’re feral equines descended from a herd carried here through explorers as early as the 1520s, and they"re known as the state steed of phibìc Carolina. Exactly how they gained here is a little of a mystery. It’s stated that part swam ashore indigenous shipwrecks if others were castoffs of failed settlements, left to flourish on this untouched barrier islands for hundreds of years.

A wild equine at Shackleford banks (photo: structure for Shackleford Horses)

Today, you’ll uncover the largest herds of feral horses at the too much ends the the external Banks. Corolla, come the north, and also Shackleford Banks, the most southern of the barrier-island chain, have herds of around 100stallions, mares, and foals that contact their beaches and dunes home. A smaller, an ext domesticated herd resides on Ocracoke Island.

Adventurous visitors can obtain a close-up see of the equines by acquisition one of plenty of guided tours readily available at both Corolla and Shackleford Banks. Remember, the horses are wild animalsand you should constantly maintain a safe distance of 50 feet. And while taking photos of the steeds is encouraged, feeding castle is not.


Wild horse Adventure Tours

The Corolla Wild Horse fund (CWHF) has managed and also protected the herd and its habitat since 1989. From its office, the CWHF uses children’s program on the early american Spanish horses, and an interaction museum and store. Members of the CWHF have the right to accompany the herd manager top top a ride-along because that a day of stunning photograph opportunities and insight right into the herd from someone who knows the herd intimately.

You can additionally rent a Jeep and drive top top the beach right into the Currituck national Wildlife Refuge ~ above a self-guided tour. Or, instead, rely on competent off-road drivers and arrange a tourism through among the outfitters in Corolla. Wild steed Adventure Tours uses two-hour family explorations into the heart of the horse’s region for groups of 2 to 14. Corolla Wild equine Tours likewise offers two-hour group tourswith knowledgeable guides.

Shackleford Banks

Rachel Carson reserve on Carrot Island decision Coast

The herd on Shackleford financial institutions lives top top the southernmost island of the Outer banks in the Cape Lookout national Seashore. Because the island is 3 mile offshore and only available by personal watercraft or passenger ferry, seeing these horses really is an adventure. Self-guided tours and photography room a well-known option, and the Cape Lookout national Seashore’s VisitorCenter on adjacent Harkers Island provides advice, tips and also safety reminders because that your expedition to check out the horses.

Guided tours, and ferries come Shackleford Banks, are accessible in Beaufort v Shackleford Wild horse & Shelling Safari. Tours are three hours, and ferries return to the mainland periodically throughout the afternoon, therefore you"re cost-free to invest the day experimenting the beach, photographing the equines or gathering some of the best shells on the Carolina coast. Nothing forget to carry your hat, sunlight block and also plenty that water because that your trip to Shackleford Banks.

The foundation for Shackleford steeds (FSH) is a nonprofit group committed to preserving the horses and also their habitat as one of North Carolina’s environmental and social treasures. It accumulation herd management plans, genetics research, wellness studies and also more. Through its solo efforts and also work with other conservation groups and the nationwide Park Service, FSH is ensuring a safe and also healthy future because that the Shackleford financial institutions wild horses.

Ocracoke Island

On Ocracoke Island, the herd is smaller in number, though larger in stature, many thanks to regular feedings and also veterinary care. The Ocracoke ponies, together they’re periodically called, live in a 180-acre enclosure to protect them indigenous N.C. Highway 12. Viewing platforms give visitors a glimpse right into the paddocks and also the day-to-day life of these horses, i m sorry is far removed from their wild cousins.

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Jason Frye

Jason Frye is the author of Moon phibìc Carolina, Moon Blue Ridge Parkway road Trip and also Moon good Smoky mountains National Park. The lives and also writes in Wilmington.