For hundreds of years, wild horses have run along the beaches of the Outer Banks and have an interesting history behind them. It is believed that the first horses came over from Spain in the mid-1500s and were left on the Outer Banks for a myriad of reasons. Historians think that, for the most part, ships ran aground causing them to possibly toss the horses overboard to make the ship’s weight lighter or when the ships wrecked in the waters off the OBX, the horses swam to safety and ended up on our northern shores.
The horses are one of the standout attractions that everyone who vacations in Outer Banks locales wants to see. They are definitely a sight to behold but there are some very important things to remember. Here are five tips for seeing the wild horses:
- Stay Back. Just like any other wild animal, it is very important for you to stay back and not approach them. It is common for them to seem very nice and “friendly” as much of the time they may be lying down or standing around. In reality, just like you, if strangers intrude on the horses’ territory, it can scare them and cause them to buck or even bite. If you see a horse starting to back up as you walk toward it, you are too close and need to stay put or better yet, back yourself up. By the way, you can be arrested in the Corolla Wild Horse Sanctuary if you are within 50 feet of any of the horses. So, the best advice is to stay that far back wherever you may be watching the wild horses.
- Be Prepared. This goes for everything involved in seeking out the wild horses. If you are walking, it may take a while for you to run across some horses so you need to wear comfortable shoes. On top of this, prepare for the weather. It gets very hot on the sand when watching the horses (even more so as you are walking about trying to find them) so you need to wear the proper clothing and make sure you have plenty of water. On the flipside, the winters on the OBX coast can be very cold so make sure you have the right clothing as well as hot coffee, tea or even hot chocolate to keep you warm. Our rentals in Corolla are the closest to where the horses usually congregate which makes it a little easier to see them.
- Drive Carefully. Parts of the Outer Banks are open at certain times of the year to vehicles – preferably off-road vehicles. One of the most fun ways to see the horses is by renting a beach jeep and driving the beaches of Corolla where the horses tend to congregate. Traversing the beaches by vehicle makes it easier to see the horses without spending a couple of hours walking the beaches in search of them. But drive carefully (and slowly for that matter) as it can be dangerous if you turn into a dare devil. Before hitting the beach in this manner, be familiar with the beach driving rules so that you do not get fined or worse, end up in an accident from being careless.
- Do not feed the horses: We cannot say this enough so, again, please do not feed the horses. The reasons are obvious: 1) you are too close to the horses and can get hurt; 2) the horses are not used to the food you may bring to them – even the foods that you think might be OK for them like apples, oats, and so forth; and 3) it teaches them to approach vehicles looking for food which, if you are in a beach vehicle, can cause an accident that injures them or you. They have been living on these beaches for hundreds of years and are well nourished all on their own.
- Take a Guided Tour: There are several adventure companies that offer guided tours to see the wild horses. This is the safest and easiest way to watch them. With expert guides who have been all over the beaches on the OBX, you can simply spend your time marveling at these majestic beauties and enjoying being outside on our spectacular beaches without having to pay attention to what you are doing.
A Unique Experience: Watching the wild horses on the Outer Banks is definitely a unique experience. But it is important to be cognizant of doing it very carefully. If this is something that you might be interested in doing, contact us to make your perfect Outer Banks vacation happen.. We love to talk about the horses and provide you with the best opportunities to see them.