Spanish horses have lived freely on the Outer Banks ever since the days of the pirates and Spanish galleons plying their trade along the Atlantic seaboard. Many likely came ashore during a major storm that wrecked their transport, seeking a safe place to live. They are found in places from Florida to Maryland and have been a symbol of what things were like in the days of little if any human interface on Assateague Island to the north, on north Bodie Island and Ocracoke Island in North Carolina, in South Carolina and even in parts of Florida. But as time goes by, and man ends their real ability to truly be wild and free, conflict between these beautiful but wild equestrian creatures and man is inevitable. They can be protected by law, but if they remain in close contact with humans in rapidly developing coastal regions, various dangerous and often deadly interactions will occur, mostly to the animals because of things done by man. Using barbed wire fencing adjacent to where the horses are free to roam is just one of the ways that happens, but it is not the problem. It is merely a symptom of the problem and until that is recognized the carnage will continue.
Oh, the next tragedy might be another horse being hit by a four wheel drive vehicle going too fast or without lights as darkness approaches, or it could be from a panicked horse hitting another guywire (a recent occurrence) or because of someone thinking it was cute to let his dog bark up close at the horses. It might even be, innocently enough, a herd of horses trotting over a beach dune and crushing someone underfoot lying on a blanket which the horses didn't see. But, sooner or later, it will be a tragic accident like the latter example where man is the loser and when that happens, the horse will, of course, bear the blame and pay the price. I've seen it too many times down here in Florida with alligators. Although not a sympathetic creature like the horse, alligators feed in fresh water bodies of water where there is thick growth near the shore. Sometimes stupid people wade there or parents allow their unsupervised children to do so and ..... a person becomes a meal. The alligator is immediately tracked and killed doing what he has done for centuries. What's worse, often the problem in a local area was precipitated by someone feeding the alligator in a nearby pond. When alligators lose their natural reluctance to approach people, bad things happen and they can happen very fast.
So, what is the answer to the problem of man's unwillingness to invade the up close personal spaces of a wild horse or any wild protected creature? Well, the best one I can find is shown by the experience of the Assateague National Seashore in both Maryland and Virginia. Assateague Island does allow tourists to swim in the ocean and enjoy the beach during the day and occasionally we might see a Chincoteague pony show himself on the dune overlooking the ocean. But there is no permanent residence allowed on the island and that is idyllic for wild ponies. They are to be looked at from afar not frightened by people up close or motor vehicles driving too fast and there are no guywires or barbed wire to harm them, just a body of water separating their island from the inhabited town of Chincoteague, where some of the young ponies are auctioned off every year. Similar circumstances can be found on Cumberland Island, Georgia, only those are not Spanish horses. They, like the Spanish ponies of Assateague, however, do run free and only Mother Nature sometimes causes any untimely death.
As Corolla is sure to grow, the conflict will be more frequent and likely more severe. It's time to look at whether man really wants to enjoy the ponies and keep them safe or just turn them into a tourist trap bonanza that will lessen human sensitivity toward them. Both can be done, but it won't work the way things have in the past since people do stupid things and horses are flight animals. There must be a clear separation of the two or the day will come when the politicians will say, enough of the ponies and their homes will be lost. I say this as a man who is married to an equestrian with many horses. We used to live in a suburban area approved for horses but, over time, the push for more people and more communities forced us to move farther out in the country where sometime in the future the same plight will face us again. Hopefully, I will meet my Maker before that day arrives.face the same plight. Don't think it won't happen in Corolla? Don't kid yourself, it happens everywhere. After all, I could have never dreamed in my younger days that I could drive from Kitty Hawk to our family cottage at the twelve mile post and never even be able to see or smell the sea.