My Unforgettable Encounter with Shackleford’s Wild Horses



In the crisp October air of 2017, my lifelong dream of witnessing wild horses in their untamed glory became a reality on the uninhabited Shackleford Banks, North Carolina. For someone who grew up surrounded by domesticated horses, the allure of these untethered spirits had always been enchanting. Little did I know that this vacation would unveil a mesmerizing chapter in my horse-loving journey.

The Journey Begins

Venturing from South Dakota to North Carolina with my travel companion, Mom, we set our sights on Shackleford Banks, home to a captivating herd of wild horses. The ferry ride, marked by reminders to maintain a respectful distance and not feed the horses, heightened the anticipation. As the ferry ashore, the vast, uninhabited island stretched before us, inviting exploration without the confines of guides.


A Creative Solution

Acknowledging the potential challenges of extensive walking, especially for my mom, I ingeniously fashioned a bench from debris washed ashore on a pristine beach. With the stage set for adventure, I set out on foot along the sandy coastline, contemplating the best approach to unravel the mystery of finding wild horses in an unfamiliar landscape.

The Trail Discovery of horses

As the rhythmic waves echoed, a serendipitous moment unfolded – a trail imprinted in the sand, reminiscent of those etched by my own horses in familiar pastures. A plan crystallized in my mind – I would follow this trail into the island’s interior. What unraveled was a network of trails, a labyrinth leading me closer to the untamed heartbeat of Shackleford.

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Off the Beaten Path

Horses, wild as the wind, don’t always adhere to designated trails. A decision was made to veer off the beaten path, guided by the belief that the heart of their world lay beyond. Guided by hoof prints and an adventurous spirit, I tread into the untouched terrain, an explorer in search of the elusive.

The Encounter of horses

A clump of bush-like trees beckoned, prompting me to make my move away from the well-trodden trails. Amidst rustling leaves, a momentary chill raced through me, a fleeting thought of a bear encounter. Reality settled in, and tears welled up at the sight of the unmistakable silhouette of a horse head emerging from the scrub. The camera captured the magic as the horse gracefully stepped into view, soon followed by the rest of its harem – a surreal ballet of freedom.

The Unforgettable

Frozen in awe, I soaked in the scene, capturing each majestic moment with my camera. The initial solo sighting and the subsequent emergence of five other horses etched an indelible mark on my heart. To this day, the memory of that first wild horse remains the most magical moment of my life, a dream materialized in the wild expanse of Shackleford Banks


Noelle, the horse lover from childhood to a passionate horse owner, had her dreams come full circle on that unforgettable day. The island’s untamed beauty and the wild horses’ freedom resonated, leaving an imprint that transcends the lens of a camera. As a human massage therapist by profession, but a horse lover at heart, this encounter remains a testament to the enduring connection between humans and the untamed spirits of the wild. In a thousand words or more, this narrative seeks to share the essence of a dream fulfilled and the timeless bond forged on the shores of Shackleford Banks.