Can you date your American heritage back to the 1500s? Most likely not, since the majority of Americans immigrated to the U.S. centuries later. However, there are some horses in the States that can make that claim. They are Colonial Spanish Mustangs who are the direct descendants of the horses brought to the U.S. by the Spanish Conquistadors in 1520. So essentially America was their land before it was ours.
This summer, these local celebrities are getting ready once again to WOW the tourist crowds. North Carolina's Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development is featuring for the first time the Corolla wild horses in an Internet and print advertising campaign, under the slogan "Even those who race with wild abandon couldn't help but settle here."
"The state's $3 million campaign includes running photos and videos of the wild horses in digital ads and images in national magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Living and O, The Oprah Magazine," said Wit Tuttell, marketing director for the Division of Tourism.
So why has it taken so long for Tourism Department to promote this unique attraction. Well, for residents its the influx of tourists that will grow exponentially when these ads hit. It's one thing to attract crowds based on word of mouth. . . it's another to throw major advertising dollars at a town where only 500 people reside during off-season.
Currituck County officials point to beaches reaching a saturation point on some weekends, making it hazardous for people and horses alike. A beach-driving committee made several recommendations earlier this year to deal with the overflow situation, including a permit system that would limit the number of vehicles allowed on the beach.
Executive Director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, Karen McCalpin who is anticipating bigger crowds because of the ad campaign noted she plans to hire more staff to educate crowds sharing the beach with the wild horses.
While allowed to roam freely, this critically endangered, nearly extinct breed ranges from 80 to 100 hundred horses only. There is an ordinance that exists in Currituck County that makes it illegal to get within 50 feet (or 5 car lengths) of the horses, even though the horses are very tolerant to people.
It's also illegal to feed them based on their very specialized diet. Apples and carrots for instance, that most thoroughbreds love as a snack are harmful to this breed, where colic can result. Also feeding them could make them become too dependent resulting in the possibility of them being removed from the herd. And with an endangered species, this is not an acceptable option.
This official video featuring McCalpin as spokesperson provides a quick historical and educational overview of the uniqueness of these special horses.
Best time to watch the Outer Bank's star attraction is during the summertime when there is a West Wind. Here, you'll see the mustangs frolicking in the surf, attracted to the beach and its cool waters. Guided off-road tours and four wheel drive rentals are available options to consider when planning your trip. Located in the heart of the Historic Village, the Corolla School House and Corolla Wild Horse Museum are additional venues to include during your visit of the area.
For more tourism information regarding the horses and their habitat, check out the Currituck Outer Banks' website. And if you don't think the Outer Banks' mustangs have enough star power for you, remember, it's taken them over 500 years to get a shot at the big time. After all, late-bloomers sometimes end up being the most entertaining. Take 48-yr old Susan Boyle for instance and her own connection to "Wild Horses". . .