Happy Chinese New Year!  It’s the year of the horse in the Chinese zodiac calendar.  The year of the horse comes around every 12 years and has appeared in the past in 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990 and 2002.  If you are not born on a horse year, 2014 is supposed to be a great year to travel because it will be filled with good luck.  Good news for me!

We are taking our lucky selves and travelling to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in April.  I hope we see the wild horses which live along the nearly 11 miles of beach around Corolla in the Outer Banks

google doodle

Image: google doodle

They are wild Spanish mustangs who roam freely and are deemed a cultural treasure by the state of North Carolina.

Corolla Horses

Image: Corolla Wild Horse Fund

The history of these horses goes back to colonial times. The Spanish tried to colonise the area around what is now North Carolina.  They, however, met resistance from the Native Americans who lived there (probably because they were stealing Native American children to send as slaves to the West Indies).  The Spanish eventually left for their colonies in Florida which were better protected and abandoned their horses.

corolla horse

Image: Corolla Wild Horse Fund

The horses eventually became feral and fended for themselves.  They learned to survive off the dune grass, acorns and persimmons and sources of freshwater that was found in their habitat.  They are an incredibly hardy bunch in order to have survived for nearly 500 years without human intervention.

Corolla Horse

Image: Corolla Wild Horse Fund

Until recently, the Outer Banks of North Carolina were some of the least developed areas in the United States.  They are a series of sand dunes which protect the coast of North Carolina from the Atlantic Coast and on the non-Atlantic side are separated from the mainland by more water.

corolla horses

Image: Corolla Wild Horse Fund

Some interesting facts about these wild horses:

  • It is against North Carolina law to touch or feed a wild horse.
  • Wild horses that have to be taken off site for treatment are not allowed back onto the Banks in case they bring any disease back into the herd from horses they met while being treated.
  • There are approximately 25 harems in the herd.  A harem consists of one stallion and several mares.
  • Stallions without a harem live together in groups.

Experts have confirmed through DNA evidence that these horses are direct descendants of the Spanish horses imported by the Spaniards in the 16th century.  The Spanish horses the Conquistadores took to the New World had been among the best from the Spanish royal horse farms.  Their beauty is evident even today.

My children can’t wait to see these horses for themselves!  Truth be told, neither can I.