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The Wild Horses of the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks of North Carolina consist of a 200 mile long stretch of barrier islands and peninsulas that separate the Atlantic Ocean from mainland North Carolina. The Currituck, and Albemarle Sounds fill the gap between the Outer Banks and North Carolina. Because of the peculiar geography, the Outer Banks was a very isolated and rugged area for quite some time. This, of course, is no longer the case, as the Outer Banks serves as a mecca for beach vacationers and summer travelers from across the country. With a local community that caters to the tourists in the Summer, and vacation rental houses aplenty, it is no wonder that so many families return year after year.

There is really no shortage of things to do on the Outer Banks. You can visit the largest sand dune on the East Coast, or take in an evening of outdoor theatre. With so many things to do, however, again and again families are drawn to see the wild horses of the Outer Banks.

Most historians agree that the wild horses of the Outer Banks arrived in the late 16th century. There is little debate that they are descended from Spanish Mustangs, and that they arrived with early European explorers. Isolated as they were from the mainland of the United States, they had the run of their land for hundreds of years. As vacationers and residents alike started to live on the Outer Banks, the horses were pushed to more desolate areas of the Outer Banks, and their numbers dwindled. The National Park Service took control of the land areas that were not populated yet, and set aside havens, protected areas where these wild horses have some distance between themselves and civilization. Of course, for the horses, it is not like it used to be, but it is better than it could’ve been if nothing were done to protect their habitat.

Today there are four main areas where these individual species of horses can be seen. The largest area is in Corolla, where the wild Spanish Mustangs have over 12,000 acres of protected land in which to roam. The other areas are Ocracoke, Beaufort, and Shackleford Banks. If you want to see the beauty of these wild horses on your next Outer Banks vacation, there are a few ways to do so. If you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle, you can head to one of these areas and look around. If you go on your own, be sure to adhere to all safety rules and regulations, and consult with a local expert first. Many rental houses will have information on how to see the horses safely. If you would rather sit back, relax and enjoy the surrounding view, there are many local guided tours of these areas. Since these guides are out there almost every day, they will certainly be able to track down the horses and answer any questions you may have about them.

There is really nothing like watching a wild horse in full gallop, running down the beaches on the Outer Banks. This wondrous site has been enjoyed by generations, and will continue to astound those admiring vacationers and residents alike. Be sure to save some time on your vacation to visit the Outer Banks longest inhabitants.

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