North Carolina Wild Horses…

North Carolina’s wild horses have fascinated me since we moved here. Quite often, we drive to Beaufort toward evening to hopefully catch a glimpse of one or two.  We drive north on Front Street and keep watching to our right across the water to Carrot Island.  If you are there in the late afternoon or towards dusk, you are almost certain to see horses at the waters edge. The Banker horses (many folks call them ponies) are small and powerful. When fully grown, they range in height from 11 to 13 hands (a hand = 4”).

Last Sunday found me with some time on my hands – ok, technically since I’m retired, I have quite a bit of time on my hands, but that’s neither here nor there. ;-) I thought it would be nice to see some wild horses closer than the ones on Carrot Island. I checked the website of the Outer Banks Ferry Service and found it was open and running to Shackleford Banks.  The site stated “Shackleford Banks is the southern most island of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. This island offers the best shelling on the east coast and is home to more than 125 wild banker ponies“.

Horses munch on the vegatation on the island

This was my favorite – soooo pretty.

Sunday dawned clear, blue and not too cold in Swansboro, so I headed for Beaufort. As I neared the bridge that connects Morehead City and Beaufort, I could see a fog bank hanging over Beaufort. If I looked at the horizon though, it didn’t look too bad and every once in a while the sun would peak through. It was pretty cool without the warming sun but I decided to go even though the weather was not exactly prime.  It was a fifteen minute ride to the island, which proved to be bumpy and quite chilly (of course, I wasn’t dressed warm enough). Once there, it wasn’t too bad if I stayed out of the wind.

The photo’s below show the Beaufort waterfront as we are leaving, a TINY little baby (3 weeks old–see the green pompom) hidden in moms jacket, and the boat that brought us to the island picking up some folks that were ready to head back to Beaufort.

Leaving Beaufort for Shackleford Banks

Some folks came to find shells but most of us were there to see the horses. A short walk through the dunes and we found what we had come for. Below you will find more of the photo’s that I took.Horses in the dunes

Horse in dunes

Standing amongst the dunes

Horse with ocean in background

Freeze branding is used on these horses instead of the traditional method

Merganser ducks

Flock of Merganser ducks saying goodbye

Shackleford Banks was a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon. The ferry runs from the Beaufort docks to Shackleford Banks. The cost is $15.00 for adults and $8.00 for children.  This trip is about a 15-minute ride each way.  You choose which drop off and pick up times you want  (just be sure to make it back to the drop-off point in time for your return ferry). Wear old shoes because the captain beaches the boat and you need to climb (or slide, as I did) off the bow of the boat. Take sun screen, water and any food that you need. Don’t forget your camera – there’s lots of chances for photo’s.  I signed up for two hours and if the weather had been nicer and my knees better, I could easily have stayed longer.

If you would like to read more about the horses, click HERE for a PDF fact page. Anyone been to Shackleford Banks? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?