A continuation of the series selected from the 1860 travel book, Sketches of Lower Carolina, this article discusses the penning and branding of the dwarfish native breed horses living on the Outer Banks.
Thought to be the oldest ponies in North America, the horses on the Outer Banks may have come from Spanish settlers and English traders. There are three major herds left to see on Shackleford Banks, Currituck, and Hatteras.
Described were three ways how the “oldest horse in North America” arrived on Outer Banks, all taking place during Elizabeth I’s reign. The population on Shackleford Banks and Currituck, low because of laws passed since the 1930s, could be considered valuable because of their demand. As for their value to the residents, called Bankers, that couldn’t be measured monetarily.
The celebrated wild ponies of the Outer Banks are descendants of the Mustangs left behind by early explorers and colonists. More recently, they run wild in places like Shackleford Banks and are resilient from a diet of sea oats and marsh grass. Their centuries old appeal led to the Colonial Spanish Mustang becoming the official state horse in 2010.
Zacharias’ definition of Hatteras Island: not just a barrier between the ocean and mainland; vulnerable to hurricanes and shipwrecks; Blackbeard’s visitation; site for Ocracoke Lighthouse. Island is also defined as a land rich with history. Hatteras’ place in state history was set during its days as Pilot Town, when residents navigated ships through Pamlico Sound’s shoals. Hatteras’ place in personal history can be seen in families such as Ballance and Howard, whose graveyards and ghost stories attesting lives going back as far as ten generations.