Shackleford Ponies – the treasures of Shackleford Banks, NC

The Cape Lookout National Seashore consists of 56 miles of beautifully undeveloped coastline stretching in barrier islands from Ocracoke to Beaufort Inlet. Visiting these pristine sands is a great way to immerse yourself in the history and breathtaking scenery here. Bring your family (even your dog!) and come explore the Cape Lookout Seashore together!

Spending a few hours
Stop by the Harkers Island Visitor Center where you can explore the exhibits, watch the park film, walk the nature trails, and more. At the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, you can soak up the sun and salt water on the beach, venture into the Keeper’s Quarters museum and climb to the top of the lighthouse for spectacular sweeping views of the coast from 160 feet in the air. On Shackleford Banks, you’ll find a a shellers delight, conchs, sand dollars, whelks and even the state shell – the Scotch Bonnet! It’s also a great spot to relax and watch for wild banker ponies – The Shackleford Ponies!

10 quick facts about our free-roaming pony neighbors

1. These wild ponies live on the banks on their own with no human interaction

2. Be prepared to walk the island to find horses since they are located
all over as they roam to feed

3. The horses are descendants of shipwrecked Spanish horses from
more than 400 years ago

4. The number of horses on the island range from 105 to 130 to maintain a healthy population

5. Ponies will dig into underground water sources for fresh water

6.The herd will divide into roughly 25 separate harems (groups) and
seven “bachelor” bands

7. It is believed that some of the horses are also of Viking descent.
That is why we have blonde tufted horses like the one on this page.

8. In order to get the best pictures from this safe distance you will need a 200x zoom lens.

9. You will want to keep a safe 50ft distance, roughly the length
of a school bus

10. Dogs with a maximum of 6 foot leashes are welcome on Shackleford Banks.