True living legacies of European and American history, the pony-sized wild horses of the southeastern United States coast
seem to possess a special mystique that intrigues and enchants thousands upon thousands of visitors each year. Living among the salt marshes, dunes and maritime forests of only a few places in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, these small, sturdy and independent horses have survived for centuries of generations against many odds and can still be enjoyed today. See Photos of Wild Horses
Photo Credit: Dickson Images / via Getty Images
First Things First: If you are planning a visit to see the intriguing wild horses of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina or Georgia, be sure to review these important safety tips for your safety and the safety of the horses.
A Band of Wild Horses on Assateague Island - Photo Credit: Courtesy of the National Park Service
Established in 1965 as a unit of the National Park System, Assateague Island National Seashore, which extends from Virginia into Maryland, is home to probably the best known wild horses of the Southeast. Assateague's horses are split into two main herds, one in Virginia and one in Maryland, and separated by a fence at the state line...Read More
Corolla Wild Horse - Photo Credit: Courtesy of Currituck County Department of Travel and Tourism
For centuries, wild horses freely roamed many areas of the Outer Banks. Detailed information from 16th Century Spanish ship logs and journals indicates that the first horses arrived on the Outer Banks via Spanish explorers' vessels as early as 1520. Visitors in 4WD vehicles are able to view the horses by driving along the beach and on sandy side roads or there are many wild horse tours from which to choose...Read More
Descendants of past generations of wild Ocracoke horses are fed daily. Photo: George Alexander
Most often referred to as Ocracoke ponies
, Banker horses have been documented on Ocracoke since the 1730s, although many believe and some evidence supports the popular theory that the horses arrived much earlier with Spanish explorers during the 16th century. Throughout Ocracoke history these small, but sturdy horses have served the residents, the U.S. Lifesaving Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, and their descendents continue to capture the attention of visitors to the island...Read More
Two Shackleford Foals Meet - Photo Credit: Courtesy of Carolyn Mason (FSH)
Shackleford Banks, one of the islands of Cape Lookout National Seashore, is home to over 100 wild horses. The horses roam freely across the narrow island, which is less than a mile wide and about nine miles long and can be reached only by boat. Shackleford Banks is a wonderful horse watching island, although because of its location 3-miles off-shore, visiting the island takes a bit of planning. There are seasonal and regular ferry services that go to the island and the National Park Service offers occasional horse watching field trips.Additional Shackleford Banks Information:Cape Lookout National Seashore Web SiteHorses of Shackleford Banks - NPS Brochure - PDFThe Foundation for Shackleford Horses Web Site
The Rachel Carson component of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses a complex of islands, located across Taylor's Creek from historic Beaufort. Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, and Horse Island are easily visible from Beaufort's Front Street area and visitors frequently enjoy a glimpse of the Reserve's horses galloping along the beach or standing in the higher elevations. There are several boat tours around the island and ferry service to the island for visitors who wish to enjoy a closer view. Special programs and field trips are available through the Reserve, the NC Maritime Museum and other organizations.
Cumberland Island Horses - Photo Credit: Courtesy of the National Park Service
Cumberland Island National Seashore, the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia, is home to more than 200 wild, or feral, horses. Although some of their original roots may have similarities to those of the wild horses in North Carolina and Virginia, the Cumberland Island horses are larger and exhibit many other differences because so many other breeds were brought to the island during its fascinating history. The horses on Cumberland Island are completely unmanaged, except for very occasional intervention in the case of extreme injury. They roam the island freely and can often been seen lingering near the historic Dungeness ruins. If you are planning a visit to Cumberland Island, be sure to make advance ferry reservations.
Wild Spanish Horses on the Beach in Corolla - Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund
The rugged, yet gentle-faced, wild horses of the southeastern United States make wonderful photographic subjects against an array of backdrops composed of stark sandy dunes, thick maritime forests, the sparkling surf and graceful salt marshes. Enjoy this collection of beautiful images from several different sources.