The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wild Horses

We had a lovely week at the beach. Perfect weather, good company, lots of yummy food most of which I didn't have to cook myself, boogie boarding - and the wild horses of Shackelford Banks.

We took a little boat out from Beaufort, NC to a small island called Shackelford Banks, home to about 120 "Banker" horses, descended from 16th century Iberian horses. The horses are also found on other neighboring islands. They're about 14 hh, mostly variations of chestnut coloration. The breed possesses a rare genetic marker known as Q-ac - whatever that means - which proves the horses are descended from ancient Spanish stock. Apparently, they have only five lumbar vertebrae instead of six, a trait they share with Arabians and with other Spanish breeds. A number of them have bi-colored manes, like Fjords, although I didn't see any eel stripes. They have characteristic short, sloping quarters.

When we landed on the island, we didn't have to walk far before we found a little band of three mares and a stallion. A couple hundred yards further on, there was another group of three mares, a yearling, and a stallion, who was grazing a little distance from the mares, but aware of their location.

On the way back to the island beach for a dip, we passed another group of mares with a foal - no stallion in sight, but perhaps he was hidden, or perhaps they could have been part of the first group we saw.

First sighting.
Friendly mare.

Mother, yearling (still nursing), another mare
Stallion grazing apart from his mares.
Manure pile.
The horses all looked as if someone had spent hours combing their manes and tails - the result of constantly brushing up against the prickly undergrowth on the island.

The second group we met contained a couple of rather warm-hearted mares, who seemed to look kindly upon us. We crept up close as they stood for a little nap, stopping when the closest mare reacted. She let us approach to within 15 feet or so, and we sat down near her as she stood with her eyelids drooping. We didn't stay long, as the yearling's mother looked a bit anxious about having interlopers at such close quarters. Or maybe she just looked oppressed at having such a giant baby still nursing, as she was quite thin.

We returned home today. Look who came with us ....


  1. What a cute little killer whale kitty!

    And nice photos of the wild horses. I'm surprised they let you get so close. I've never heard of the Banker horses before.

  2. Wonderful that you could go and visit a herd of wild horses during your holidays and looks you had great weather for it too! I'm afraid we're suffering from St. Swithin's curse! Love the photos

  3. I had to look up St. Swithin's curse - please tell him we'd be happy to have 40 days of rain instead of you!