Business owners like Scott Trabue
of Wild Horse Safari say they accept that one day the horses will be gone, but perhaps not without a fight.
"I have never been political but I am ready to jump into the fray because I want to save the horses," Trabue
Trabue's passion for the horses does not begin with his
has been around the ponies since 1993 when traffic and human encroachment began to threaten the animals as they freely roamed a busy, commercially oriented Corolla.
In 1994, a road sign along N.C. Highway 12 in Corolla informed drivers that 14 horses had been killed by vehicles and to drive carefully.That is the same year the Wild Horse Fund
began making plans to move the ponies up the beach to secluded Carova.
"I was one of those people against moving the horses out of town," Trabue
recalled."I loved them so much.But I wasn't thinking correctly in those days."
One night, driving home along N.C. 12, Trabue
heard the unmistakable sound of hooves galloping atop pavement.Without benefit of seeing the horses, he
car in time to miss a herd of horses crossing the road.Trabue
said it was at that moment he
realized the horses must live in the roadless, Carova Beach area for their own safety.These days the business-owner enjoys seeing the herd and enjoys watching tourists awe-struck at the site of a mare and her
"They are magical," Trabue
During a busy summer season, Trabue
tour guides will take as many as 10,000 people to see the horses.At $46 per adult, and half price for children, Trabue's tours can bring in anywhere from $300,000 to $460,000 per season.
Bob White, owner of Bob's Wild Horse Tours
, said he
averages about 15 tours a day with as few as six and as many as nine people per tour.He
estimates an average four month season of tours takes in about $100,000.
White also sees looming development in Carova as a threat to his
business, but he
is remaining realistic about the future.
As for horse-related businesses, White and Trabue
both say they have other business ventures and when the horse trade dies, they will find another way to capitalize on tourism along the Outer Banks