September 1st, 2010
10:16 AM ET

Wild horses on Outer Banks ready to ride out hurricane

Wild horses and ponies have survived storms on the Outer Banks for 500 years.

If you're worried about how the wild ponies on North Carolina's Outer Banks will survive Hurricane Earl, hold your horses.

"The horses have been here for about 500 years, so obviously they have a plan for what works best for them" when a big storm blows through, said Denise Wells, director of operations with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

The 88 colonial Spanish mustangs that roam more than 7,500 acres on a peninsula in Currituck County's Corolla area are descendants of animals left behind by 16th-century Spanish explorers and traders.

A separate herd of 124 mustangs lives on National Park Service land on Shackleford Island, at the opposite end of the Outer Banks.

The Corolla herd fluctuates as high as 116 animals at times, although it is limited by law to 60, Wells said. A bill in Congress would allow the herd to expand to at least 110, the minimum needed to ensure genetic diversity, she said.

The horses' space includes high ground where they can ride out a storm and avoid any storm surge, Wells said.

But the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a small nonprofit dedicated to preserving the Outer Banks horses, maintains an offsite breeding program just in case disaster strikes the herd, she said. The staff and volunteers of the fund will follow whatever evacuation advice the county gives, Wells said. The rugged area's handful of year-round residents will make their own choices as the storm approaches, she added.

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Filed under: Animals • Weather
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Awwww

    That is a cute baby horse!

    September 1, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. gg

    They are beautiful to watch! I was there a few years ago with my kids and if you ever get then chance to see them take it! It is a sight that you will never forget!

    September 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. brenda cruz

    God bless nature this horses are so beautiful&precious thankyou Cnn for this wonderful news xoxo

    September 1, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DS

    I never knew there was wild horses there. Just amazing.

    September 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RH

    This article brings back such fond memories of the trips my Mom and Dad took us on to see them. I live to far away now to make that trip. But the memories will remain with me. I pray they will be safe.

    September 1, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kriss greenn

    I didn't know there were horses in that area! I only knew of those in VA and MD. Eitherway, cool story! I had no worries about the wildlife cause they always know what to do....it's us humans that have problems:-)

    September 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Christine

    So beautiful!
    CNN please follow up on them and let us know how they fair.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rob D.

    It's funny how all these wild animal's such as these beautiful horse's know what to do in these stormy situation's and us human's panic. Please update us on these wild horse's.

    September 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rob D.

    And if you think getting to see these wild horse's is a beautiful site, well, I've had horse's. Riding in a wide open space at full canter is an amazing feeling. Thank's again CNN

    September 1, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Help End Deadly wild horse round-ups happening now

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wild-Horse-Protection-Act/148137931880317
    BLM, government agency using tax payer dollars, harming and killing wild horses with disregard to wild horse protection act.
    Sad truth and we will not back down until this truth is exterminated.

    September 1, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robin Bush

    OMG what a beautiful site they are. They are Gods creatures and are so beautiful. Please report how they make out in this crazy weather coming...... They are breathtaking! Makes you in awe of natures beauty........... God Bless those babies.

    September 2, 2010 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dale Marie Goldman

    I was just there in the OBX last week and went on a jeep tour to see these beautiful horses! I hope they do ride out the storm okay, please keep us updated!

    September 2, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kari

    We vacationed among the horses last month with our girls. Whatva site it was to open our front door to see two of these beauties in our front yard eating grass! We could have watched them for hours! I believe these horses will be just fine during the storm. They have natural shelter and many high places they can get to if need be.

    September 2, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GB

    I have seen the horses many times over the last 15-20 years. Beautiful sight. Spring,sumer,winter or fall the horses always seem to know where to go to get out of the weather. There was a terrible storm a few years ago that took out many houses and roads, but the horses were just fine. I'm confident they will make out fine with Earl. Its awesome to see how the herd protects the baby horses. CNN, Keep us informed

    September 3, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  15. DW

    While the horses have been there nearly 500 years, humans have not. The horses are now confined to one end of the island and humans have removed much of the natural vegetation. I am glad that the horses came through Hurricane Earl without problem, but think that they are more vulnerable to hurricanes now than they were in the past.

    September 3, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
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