Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses we’ll ride them some day
-The Rolling Stones
I said I would and I did. I visited the wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs at Corolla Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina.
It was a dream come true.
I booked the tour a week in advance and set out on a Wednesday morning after breakfast for the four and a half hour drive to the Outer Banks. It was a hell of a day, to be honest. I pre-packed my lunch, then drove away with it on top of the car. I drove straight for three hours before I noticed my lunch was missing. I stopped for a sandwich and checked my phone. The tour company had canceled my tour due to impending bad weather. Ugh. I called them and explained what a big deal this was for me. How I had already driven so far, and I’m from the other side of the country and that all I wanted was to see some frickin’ wild horses on the beach.
I told them I was heading straight to them as quickly as possible. They reiterated that they had already canceled the tour but that I might be able to get on a later tour, weather permitting. I drove straight to their office anyway. I arrived an hour before my originally scheduled tour and begged (in a nice way). The day was overcast and a bit windy, but otherwise dry. They calmly described to me the weather front that was approaching. I couldn’t see it, but they assured me it was approaching. I continued begging. They sent me off to the Currituck Lighthouse up the road and promised to call me in 30 minutes with a decision on my request.
Currituck Lighthouse, North Carolina
As promised, 30 minutes later they called me on my mobile and said they would take me out at my previously scheduled time. Normally they have a 14-passenger Hummer filled for each tour. As it stood, I was going out alone with the guide. By the time I returned to the tour office, however, they had rustled up another family to go out with me.
As we sat and listened to the tour guide’s spiel about the Colonial Spanish Mustangs being offloaded hundreds of years ago from ships off the coast that had caught in the dangerously shallow shoals, the sky looked more and more ominous and big drops of cold rain commenced bouncing off the hummer’s windshield. The driver passed out cheap rain ponchos, but being the good little Oregonian that I am, I had a nice lightweight rain jacket handy in my backpack. Being the stubborn little Oregonian that I am, I waited until the very last second to don said raincoat. The tour guide abandoned his rehearsed speech and we took off attempting to outrun the storm. And, honestly, it worked… for a while.
The horses are in fact wild, so spotting them is never guaranteed and they have more than 2000 wild acres, plus numerous inhabited neighborhoods, to roam. They do very much enjoy, apparently, eating grass in the neighborhoods of Corolla. We first spotted what the guide called a young “bachelor.” His coat was a bit long and scruffy, he was kinda small, and had clearly been in some recent fights. Apparently wild horse mating season is right around the corner and this cutie is looking to add a harem.
Now, he’s handsome and all, but I was looking for a little more than one little lone horse in someone’s front yard. Next we came upon a pair of horses in someone’s backyard, across a canal, and really too far away to get a good look.
Then we drove around multiple neighborhoods for what seemed like hours. We passed one area where we were told just an hour before two males had been fighting over some females, but by the time we arrived, there were no horses to be found. I was losing faith and thinking I had seen all the wild horses I was going to see that day.
For a while, the weather was calm. Until it wasn’t. We could see lightening, and dark clouds converging directly overhead.
I’m sure our guide/driver could feel my palpable disappointment as he looked at the sky, voiced his concern for the inevitable downpour that was coming, and said we had to get back.
As lightening lit up the sky and the dark clouds once again started releasing huge droplets of rain, we spotted a caravan of stopped cars ahead on the beach.
And there they were, a small family (harem) of wild horses out for a low tide stroll on Corolla Beach. The wild mustangs travel in harems, which generally includes a stallion and one to three mares.
I felt like the luckiest girl in North Carolina.
Disclaimer: I have no way of transferring the good photos from my Nikon onto my laptop, so these are lesser quality iPhone photos.
They were beautiful and majestic and took my breath away. I have ridden a horse on the beach before, but this was different. This was a family of wild colonial Spanish Mustangs, directly descended from horses abandoned in the ocean in the late 1500’s on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, part of a group currently numbering less than one hundred, out for a stroll, and I felt honored to be in their presence… and lucky.
I would like to say I drove all the way back to Durham with a big glee-filled smile on my face, however, that storm they had warned me about, was no joke. I drove for over two of my four and a half hour drive home in a torrential downpour with zero visibility and lightening strikes all about. It was scary.
Eventually the storm gave way to a beautiful sunset.
I made it back safe and sound and in my bed by 11pm. What a day! 😀