Finding Kentucky in the North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Wild Horses of Corolla – Outer Banks, North Carolina

I returned a couple of weeks ago from a vacation to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Completely unlike Kentucky, the fresh seafood and oceanic views both did not disappoint. But I’m always curious as to how and where I will find a “Kentucky connection.” Wherever you go, you can find one (or more).

Bottles of Daniel Boone Ale

While driving to my destination, I found myself headed south from Charleston, W. Va. and into North Carolina’s Yadkin River Valley. From his home here, Daniel Boone made his multiple excursions through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. On our return trip, we stopped for supper in Hickory, N. Car. at the Olde Hickory Brewery. While tasting a flight of several brews, I narrowed in on an immediate favorite. After reading the description, I knew why! The limited release “Daniel Boone” is a vanilla-hinted brown ale aged in bourbon barrels.

At the coast, we spent a morning enjoying a wild horse tour in Corolla and Carova Beach. There, a population of feral horses  run freely through a 1,800 acre animal sanctuary enclosure. The enclosure was erected in 1989 after twelve of the horses and been struck by automobiles. According to veterinary researchers at (you guessed it) the University of Kentucky, the number of alleles in the Corolla horse population are the fewest number found within any equine population. Accordingly, the Corolla horses are categorized as a unique species of horse rather than a mixture of other breeds. Of the different herds roaming North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the Corolla stock particularly resemble the Iberian horses brought from Spain the 1500s.

It is disputed how the horses particularly arrived (and remained) in North Carolina. Some believe a Spanish vessel shipwrecked and that the horses swam to safety or that the horses were thrown overboard to free a beached Spanish galleon. A third theory suggests that a Spanish settlement in the area, including their horses, was abandoned after relations with the natives proved too challenging.

Horses, beer, and bourbon. Yessir, I found my Kentucky connection in the Tar-heel State.