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Wild Horses Roam the Island
Description: On Cumberland Island, wild horses roam freely all over the 21,000 acres. The horses are a key factor to why people visit Cumberland Island National Seashore. The horse population on the island averages around 150 every year give or take twenty horses. The horses on the island are a variety of colors including black, brown, and white. The average lifespan of a Cumberland horse is seven years. Now, seven years is not a long time for a horse to live and the reason the Cumberland horses have a short lifespan is because of the minimal amount of grazing land on the island and inbreeding. The horses on Cumberland Island are not native. They were first brought by the Spanish in the 16th century and then again by the Carnegie family when Thomas Carnegie bought the island in the 1880’s.
Reflection: Seeing wild horses on Cumberland Island was my first experience of seeing horses that were neither in a stable nor on a farm. Seeing the wild horses allowed me to take a step back in time because horses use to run wild and free in America before the United States started to expand west towards the Pacific Ocean. The horses on the island are so used to humans that anyone can get close without the horses acting scared or frightened. When I saw the wild horses, I was in awe for two reasons. First, they are wild horses and I had never seen a wild horse in my entire life. Second, the horses are extremely malnourished due to the poor grazing area on the island. When you got close enough, you could see five to seven of the horse’s ribs. The wild horses allowed me to see what America was like before people started capturing and herding the wild horses.
Analysis: The wild horses are a major factor to why some people visit Cumberland Island National Seashore. Yes, some people do want to see the First African Baptist Church, Plum Orchard, or Dungeness but some want to see horses wild and free. The environment is the major factor to the small size of the horse population and their short lifespan. The island has only a few spots where there is grass for the horses to graze. And the grass that the horses do graze does not have all the nutrients that the horses need to live a long and healthy life. The National Park Service thought about getting rid of all the horses on Cumberland Island because the horses are not native to the island and they damage the environment. However, the National Park Service decided not to eradicate the horses because of how the horses played into the history of Cumberland Island. A law was passed by the state Georgia that protects the horses on Cumberland Island so that they can never be eradicated. Overall, the wild horses on Cumberland Island are not only a spectacular site to see but also a piece of the history of the island.