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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
Several wild horses along Shackleford banks, July 1999
Bachelor band at the "Daily Submerge," Shackleford Banks, NC, July 1999. Photo: Carolyn Salter Mason

Shackleford Banks Horses

This project documents the history of the wild horses of North Carolina's Outer Banks and their place in local tradition. Once targeted for removal from the region, and later threatened by a National Park Service plan for their management, the horses were defended by a groundswell of support that resulted in the creation of the Foundation for Shackleford Horses and, in 1998, a federal law protecting them. Arguments for leaving intact the herd of diminutive animals, also called ponies because of their small size, came from biologists, geneticists, historians, legislators, veterinarians, and farmers. It was argued that the Shackleford wild horses are the oldest documented population in North America; that they are genetically linked to the same Spanish mustangs from which the wild Montana herds are descended; that they were already present before European settlement in the region; and that their presence has become the focus of some culturally significant traditions. The chief tradition surrounding the horses is the annual roundup, or "pony-penning", which serves to control the size of the herd by auctioning selected individuals while also providing an important social event that binds the community. At a time when development has pushed almost all other horses from the Outer Banks, the Shackleford Banks herd remains a cultural and historical legacy, protected under cooperative management between the Foundation for Shackleford Horses, Inc. and the National Park Service at Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Originally submitted by: Walter B. Jones, Representative (3rd District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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