The Shackleford Banks Ponies aren’t just wild, they’re a historical legacy of the Crystal Coast.
The earliest roots of the Shackleford Banks wild horses are still technically unknown, but historians believe that the horses, or “Banker Ponies,” are descendants from Spanish shipwrecks in the 1500s. At least eight shipwrecks that were noted in the area from 1528-1564 are of Spanish origin, and many of these vessels were transporting Spanish mustangs and other livestock that might have been thrust ashore when the vessels inevitably sank.
The characteristics of the breed which closely resemble ancient Spanish mustangs supports this theory, and the reports from several 1600s and 1700s captains who noted seeing the horses along the shoreline provide additional evidence as well.
10 Facts About the Shackleford Banks Ponies:
- Like others across the coast, the Banker Horses often referred to as Banker Ponies
- These wild ponies live on the banks on their own with no human interaction
- The number of ponies on the island range from 110 to 130 to maintain a healthy population
- The ponies are believed to be descendants of shipwrecked Spanish horses from more than 400 years ago
- The ponies have evolved over the years to live off of the vegetation that is naturally found on the Shackleford Banks
- The typical Banker Pony is fairly small compared to modern horses
- They weigh roughly 800-1,000 pounds and stand about 11-13 hands high
- Ponies will dig into underground water sources for freshwater
- The herd will divide into roughly 25 separate (groups) and 7 “bachelor” bands
- The ponies are truly wild animals and don’t want people in their space
Learn More About the Shackleford Banks Horses:
- Get the latest news and information on the ponies from the National Park Service
- Take a virtual tour online: Shackleford Banks Wild Horses Virtual Tour