How the Wild Horses on North Carolina’s Outer Banks Have Survived Hurricanes for over 500 Years

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If you’ve never been to the Outer Banks, let me first say that you should put them on your bucket list. The chain of barrier islands just off the coast of North Carolina are beautiful, serene, and somewhat otherworldly – and not just because there are herds of wild horses roaming the beaches.

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#nationalilovehorsesday – “The earth would be nothing without the people, but the man would be nothing without the horse.” – I have ridden a horse once in my life. The ride on my great grandma’s farm in Rich Square, NC didn’t last long, as the horse had other plans— and, thankfully, my grandfather snatched me off the horse— just in time. That thought doesn’t scare me. Instead, it actually makes me respect them more. To me, they represent freedom, endurance, a confidence, gracefulness – and mystery. – How these Spanish Mustangs found their way to the Outer Banks more than 500 years ago may never actually be known— but whether they were left behind or shipwrecked here, it’s been their HOME for more than FIVE CENTURIES. It’s illegal to get within 50 feet of them. They are WILD horses. It’s illegal to feed them. An apple could kill one of these horses. And yet, people are touching these horses & taking selfies with them. Not only is it against the law, it’s STUPID. – Recently, a horse had to be put down because of the injuries it received from another horse. If a horse can do that to another horse, imagine what it can do to a human?! – If these horses lose the place they’ve called home, the home they’ve SURVIVED in for more than five centuries because of the vanity, the selfishness of humans in OUR lifetime… Not our grandparents or the grandparents before them. OUR lifetime. What a disservice we’ve not only done to these horses & history, but our children’s children, who will never get to see this. Thank you to organizations like the @corollawildhorsefundinc that exist only to let these horses continue to run free. – #corolla #corollanc #corollahorses #outerbanksnc #outerbankswildhorses #spanishmustangs #horses #horsesofinstagram #letthemrunwild #letthemrunfree #letthemrunwildandfree

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The Colonial Spanish mustangs were left behind by European explorers in the 16th century and have been living alone on the islands for centuries. They’re considered feral, though local environmental groups do care for them in ways that minimally interfere with their lives.

Over time, the horses have learned to weather hurricanes better than most feral animals – and better than many people. Incredibly, they have evolved a system that’s preserved them for hundreds of years, even in the face of the fiercest weather.

The horses sense changes in air pressure ahead of the storm, and, as a pack, march to higher ground. Once there, they crowd together under sturdy oaks, rear ends toward the wind, and brace for the worst.

And, amazingly, it works.

The herd on the Outer Banks (around 100 strong) is managed by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, and though they take some precautions with the horses ahead of major hurricanes like Dorian – they make sure their troughs contain extra hay and clean water, and that their ID tags are secured – they mostly let the horses be.

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Wild horses at the Outer Banks #naturephotography #horse #horses #Outerbankshorses #Outerbankswildhorses #photography #outerbanksnature #Outerbanks #springscene #spring

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They’ve survived all this time, after all, so they’re obviously capable of taking care of themselves.

It seems like some people could take a card from the equine playbook when it comes to preparing for storms.