The beach at Shackelford Island.
If you have a craze over wildlife and adventure, Shackelford
Island offers fantasies unusually found in regular beaches today.
Deserted and exclusive, it would be hard to believe that an island like
this is actually not inhabited by humans but by wild mares and ponies.
They are the treasures, the main feature of the island.
Wild as you would expect, the horses are innocent species living in a
rich island that men discovered at the coast of North Carolina. They are
sometimes called water-horses because of their freedom to roam around
the dunes and marshes. They have the privilege to hop from one small
channel between an island to another. Their home is such a free place
that you would enjoy watching them once you decide to land and witness
what their daily routines are like.
Shackelford is an admirable place and the horses are the stars to look
up to. People always said they have always been there, that even before
humans near that area came forth, they were already there. They were
thought too to have swam ashore, cluelessly seeing ships that have
sunken from nature’s tough moods. They are believed to have weather past
the test of time, leaving them alive, strong and healthy in the island,
enjoying life and continually bringing forth more new ones.
You may wonder though how this island came about. Dividing the 7000
acre tract of the banks extending from the Drain to the West, John
Shackelford acquired the island in 1723. It was once forested and
provided live oaks and cedar timbers for the construction of ships in
Beaufort boatyards but was abandoned in the 1900’s when storms
consecutively hit it.
Up until now, people have not settled in the Shackelford Banks but it
had become a summer resort and park for many. Shackelford Island is
actively being used for open grazing of horses, cattle and sheep but
they are more popularly known for the wild horses widespread on the
island. And for a long time now, students from all over the country try
to visit Shackelford Island every year to observe the wild horses and
When you go to Shackelford Island, take a walk to the large water
holes near its west end as this is where most horses stay together for
mingling, sipping and wading. You will definitely surprise yourself of
how humanlike they can become sometimes. And seeing them all together in
one place, male or female, is simply a joyful moment to reflect on.