Wild Horses and a Chance Meeting ~ Cape Lookout National Seashore

“Wild, wild horses, couldn’t drag me away.  Wild, wild horses, we’ll ride them someday.”  ~ The Rolling Stones

Jutting out into the Atlantic, off the coast of North Carolina, runs a low, narrow ribbon of sand, dunes, seagrass, and dense vegetation known as the Outer Banks.  At the southernmost end of this strand of barrier islands sits Cape Lookout National Seashore, running 56 miles in length, and consisting of three barrier islands, Shackleford Banks, North Core Bank, and South Core Bank.

Shackleford Banks is nine miles in length and one mile across and is home to more than 110 wild horses, the Banker Horses.  Smaller in stature than other similar breeds, most likely due to the limited nutrients in their diet, many refer to them as the Banker Ponies.   Researchers believe the Bankers came over from Spain, via Hispaniola (located between Cuba and Puerto Rico) in the early 16th century.  We are on a quest for these wild beauties.

Hopping on a ferry to Shackleford, we were told not many horses had been seen recently but I was determined to see just one, that’s all I wanted.  Well ok, what I secretly desired watching an entire herd racing along the beach, sand and spray following in their wake.  A girl can dream, can’t she?

While others hopped off the ferry with beach gear in hand, we headed to the interior, hoping to find horses in a sheltered part of the island.  Cresting a sand dune an hour later, our search was over.  A band of eight grazed in the grassy meadow below us.  Not wanting to spook them, we sat down in the grass to watch, not the most intelligent decision we made that day, but more about that later.  These little beauties allowed us to share their space for 30 minutes…ahh, life is good.

What started as a beautiful day observing wild horses ended with Terry in Urgent Care a couple of days later, with a series of events in between that were just meant to happen (no coincidences here).

The next day found us scrambling to change our plans to take our RV, via ferry, to Ocracoke, thanks to a poorly constructed temporary bridge we happened to cross, one very rickety wooden, steeply pitched bridge that looked impossible to traverse without getting our home stuck.  And we had to cross this bridge to get to Cedar Island to pick up the ferry. 😦

Terry’s thoughtful decision to let the campground manager know about the bridge construction allowed us to meet a lovely couple from Maine the next afternoon, and a very lucky meeting it was to be.

Terry surprised me that morning by announcing he needed help ridding himself of not one, but three ticks, and guess where he most likely picked up these creepy little bacteria/disease ridden arachnids.  Yep, sitting in the grass at Shackleford.  Two of them were content to stop feasting on hubby but one was determined to stay.   Tweezers and some patience disrupted his plans but a part of me was still a bit nervous as we didn’t know how long they had been attached and they were teeny, tiny, not easy to identity.

Enter Richard and Sigrid, the lovely couple from Maine, who stopped by to discuss the bridge situation as this was also their planned route to Ocracoke. The conversation moved on to the subject of ticks, with them being quite knowledgeable, having spent their lives in Maine.  One look and they said “you need to have that looked at” and within the next few minutes we were headed to Urgent Care.

Yep, those tiny little ticks were what we had feared, deer ticks, potential carriers of Lyme disease, and they had been attached most likely in excess of 48 hours.  Before we had gotten to the doctor, a “halo” had formed around one of the bite areas.  A round of antibiotics and Terry should be good to go.  He was happy to surrender his halo, even though it would most likely be the only one he would ever have. 😉  Our many thanks to Richard and Sigrid who urged Terry towards the doctor, a place he, like so many, is reluctant to go.

We continue our exploration northward in the Outer Banks.  Brrr, what happened to spring?

78 thoughts on “Wild Horses and a Chance Meeting ~ Cape Lookout National Seashore

  • I really enjoyed this post, LuAnn, especially the ponies and the beautiful sunset. Your sense of humor just adds to it. I’m sorry about Terry’s run in with the tics, but glad someone was able to convince him to have them checked out. I’m also glad that they didn’t seem to like your blood.lol

    • All ended well, thank goodness and the wild horses were beautiful, even if I didn’t get to see them running on the beach. Not sure why the ticks didn’t get attached to me, as I sat in the same grass, but I’m not complaining. 😉

  • Yep, don’t like ticks… sure hope we get to check out the outer banks some day… with our daughter living near Raleigh we just haven’t made the coastline there yet..

    • We know too many people who have Lyme disease so I am pretty wary of these little critters. The Outer Banks are great but must admit to missing the wide-open spaces out west. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • So glad that Terry had the tick bite checked out medically. Guys often times think they can tough it out and it is our good fortune to have a mate that is
    much more cautious. Now you guys are good to go. LuAnn, did you get to see the two pictures Gayl posted in our camp host gear? The weather is really great down here now. Hope you guys are having a great time. The wild horses off of the coast always intrigued me, especially when I came upon them in a textbook while teaching.

    • Terry was convinced to go to the doctor after meeting up with Richard and Sigrid. The wild horses were wonderful to watch, more so I think because I knew they were not encumbered by fences but rather had the run of the island.

      I have not been over to FB for awhile but will head there shortly and check out the photos. Thanks for stopping by Roger. 🙂

  • That was a wonderful coincidence for sure. So glad Terry didn’t act all macho about it and not have the bites looked at. Hope all is well today.

    I am not a horse person, but those horses are beautiful. The mane is gorgeous.

    • Terry doesn’t like going to doctors but was convinced after having someone more knowledgeable about ticks encourage him to do so. He is now on the mend.

      I have not spent much time around horses but find them to be such an amazing animal. It was great fun finding them. 🙂

  • Beautiful, beautiful horses; lovely to observe! Like you I could watch all day! So sorry and very glad for the outcome with the ticks! Don’t want to take any chances. We have had trouble with ticks this outing; with us liking to hike in the woods with two very furry doggies. We are always checking and luckily haven’t had one on us. Happy travels.

    • Thanks Sheila. Yep, we were fortunate to get Terry checked out when we did. A round of antibiotics should do it for him. We know too many people who have Lyme disease so we try to be very cautious, but obviously not enough on this outing.

  • It’s so nice that your wonderful horse watching experience memory was not ruined by something serious happening because of that experience. I Love watching wild horses and wish we (as a country) would make more effort to keep some wild bands wild but no we have to have their land for houses and such so they get caught and ????? I know, sometimes good things happen much of the time I fear it is bad things that happen to them.

    • We are keeping an eye on it but we are certain all will be fine. Ticks do creep me out a bit as I know too many people who have contracted Lyme disease. Certainly not something to take lightly. Thanks for stopping by Lisa. 🙂

  • Oh deer, I bet that ticked him off a bit 😉 Sorry, couldn’t resist 😉

    For seeing the horses I bet not even words could say how happy you were about it. A great part of your life you shared with us there LuAnn 😉 Thank you

  • We were both infected with Lyme Disease a few years ago traveling through KY and it’s the tiny ticks that do it. Thankfully we caught it early and did the antibiotics course to get rid of it. Keep in mind that not all ticks leave a “halo”. You can get infected from a bite without this visible sign. In fact neither Paul nor I developed any halos, but we saw the teeny ticks on our bodies and started running a fever a few weeks later. All that to say that you should be careful for yourself too, even if you didn’t get a halo.


      • Thanks Nina. We have been making note of your explorations in Nevada. You find the coolest places. Thanks for sharing so much. 🙂

    • I have read that not all people bitten present in the same way, so I will certainly keep an eye on this. I can’t believe how tiny these ticks were. I thought I knew what deer ticks looked like but I certainly didn’t expect this. I know there are ticks out west but not as prevalent as they are here. We miss the west!!

      • Yes, I was surprised by the size too. They looked like freckles to me they were so small. Didn’t realize they were ticks until they moved!! If you’re in any doubt at all take the antibiotics course. It’s a horrible course, but much better than the alternative.

      • Thanks Nina. I haven’t found anything on me yet and I have checked several times, but with my fair skin I have lots of other spots, so I’m not a clean slate as it were. 😉

  • How very exciting to find the horses, but distressing about the ticks. Good thing Terry did a round of antibiotics. Hope you enjoy your time on the east coast.

    • I have checked myself several times and have not found any but will continue. I don’t like those little buggers. Thanks for the link Gunta. I have read quite a bit about ticks but I will check this out as well.

      The horses were beautiful, especially knowing what freedom they had. 🙂

  • Easter is a promise of joy and renewal
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    Marks a new beginning
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    Wishing you a Happy Easter!
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  • This is a beautiful area. We’ve never driven it in the MH but did do a motorcycle trip which was wonderful.

    Ticks really give me the creeps. I won’t hike if there is going to be long grass. Spring is the worst with all the babies. You’d think after the harsh winter here in the east there would be smaller population. So glad Terry found the ticks and you got treatment early:) Poor Terry…I am sure there is a halo somewhere in his future:)

    • Ticks creep me out as well. I know several people who have Lyme disease, a couple who are permanently disabled because of it, all from the east coast. The couple from Maine we met said that cold winters do not seem to keep the population down, as many people think. These ticks were very tiny. They looked like babies to me.

      Terry is working on that halo. 😉

  • Glad ticks given the heave ho LuAnn .. not good .
    What is good .. are your photos .. something about wild horses just doing their thing … Love that blonde mane 🙂

  • OMG, ticks! We are happy he is out of that bite. No we don’t like ticks ever and with your post, we will be careful where we will be when passing thru Kentucky. Terry will get his halo back, the saintly one not the deadly one.
    This is an area we missed while at the Outerbanks, for one Steve is not keen on horses, wild or not, while I was more on a photo op with those wild horses.
    But your beautiful horse captures are enough to satisfy my ” wished we were there” thought.
    PS. are you getting emails from my post? I reached out to the WP help support about those not getting their notifications when you alerted me.

    • Do be careful when you go through Kentucky. We hear the ticks can be quite bad there as well. We also had issues with them last summer in Ohio at Terry’s folks. Those we found in Ohio were dog ticks but they can also carry bacteria. Nasty little critters! And Terry is working on that halo. 😉

      As to getting your posts, I finally had to go back in and subscribe again and now am getting your posts. 🙂

  • What a beautiful and peaceful encounter you had with the wild horses, LuAnn! Although I’m not a “horse person,” there’s something magical about encountering them in the wild. Ticks, on the other hand — I could do without them. We’re conscientious about avoiding hiking in tall grass and we always do “tick checks” after hiking where ticks might live — and as you know, I still ended up finding an embedded tick several weeks ago. And it STILL itches. ;-( They are really nasty critters. I’m following with interest your feelings about traveling up the east coast. We plan to do a similar trip next spring/summer/fall, but hearing your longing for the west gives me pause.

    • Laurel, I have never been a horse person myself, as far as owning or riding much but there is something about this majestic animal that I just love observing, particularly in the wild.

      We try to be very careful as well regarding ticks but on this day we didn’t do our due diligence. We will going forward as we are spending lots of time in the DC area in a park that has cautions about ticks. We will be hiking on established trails while out here or biking on paved paths.

      As to the east coast tour, I try to find beauty everywhere I go but I am in serious need of some wide-open spaces and big mountains. We knew we would be dealing with lots of traffic and hiking at sea level here on the east coast. We have committed to volunteering at Greenbelt Park near DC, beginning May 1, for the summer to stay in close proximity to the folks as their lives are changing very quickly as of late. Lots of beauty here in the east but my heart will always be out west. Having said that, I would do Florida again, some of the interior we missed. You have convinced me of that. 🙂

      • LuAnn, I just wanted to say that you clearly find beauty everywhere you go — that’s one of the many reasons I look forward to your blog posts. I didn’t realize that you were going to be volunteering at a park near DC for the summer to be near family — it sounds as though we have that in common, too — that’s why we spend so much time in Florida in the winter, so that we can be in close proximity to my folks. Their lives are changing quickly, too. It’s a blessing of our full-time lifestyle to be able to spend so much time with them, and at the same time a challenge because they would like for us to stay there indefinitely — and we have other desires and commitments. I wonder how you handle that dilemma — I’m really looking forward to our paths crossing someday soon!

      • Laurel,

        I so appreciate your comment and would love to meet you some day as well. Our challenge with Terry’s folks is trying to work with a mother who does not agree it it time to transition to another phase of life. She is very strong-willed and no matter how much calm logic Terry sends her way, she will not budge. We understand not wanting to leave your home or giving up your independence, but pray that we would not hold on so fiercely to the past as she does. What Terry sees as their safety she sees as an intrusion of her privacy. Neither dad at 94, nor mom at 89 should be on a 5-acre farm out in the country. We can only pray that this does not end badly.

        On another subject, I obviously overlooked the fact that you are an herbalist and wrote a book, which I plan to order as soon as we get settled in DC. I am very much into taking care of our health in a more natural way and can’t wait to read what you have written.

        Take care and safe travels to the two of you. 🙂

    • They are nasty little critters! You will probably appreciate this. I had just laundered the bedding the day before hubby found ticks on him, so guess what I did right after, laundered them again! Made me think of you Carol, after your bedding post. 🙂

  • I am glad to know that Terry is OK. Ticks were always a problem in Georgia too.

    I love, LOVE the Outer Banks! We spent 19 days there in May 2011. It was chilly when we were there too.

  • Loved the horses, not the ticks. So glad the Lyme disease was caught early, as Stan had a bad case a few years ago. Marilyn

  • Oh what beautiful horses… love the photos… as for the ticks, here where it is a daily problem if walking in longish grass, we find if they are attached, a wad of cotton wool soaked in methylated spirits and they just drop off…

    • Good to know. I am guessing I can buy methylated spirits over here. I will be researching this as we are spending the summer volunteering in a campground where there is a tick alert. Thanks Bulldog!

  • Oh bloody hell. What freak incidents, but what cool coincidences! Isn’t that you just remove it with tweezer or even your hands? Did he get bit on the butt … since you guys were sitting down? 😀

    • Ticks are to be removed with tweezers as close to the bite area as possible, to ensure removing all of the little pest. Leave it to you to be the one to ask where he got bit Rommel! All three were around his waist, if inquiring minds must know. 🙂

  • Amazing story LuAnn. I had no idea that Lyme disease had made it that far south. Terri and I are in Mississippi now, and it’s tick city around our camp. In fact, we just had a conversation about Lyme disease (we’ve both had a couple of ticks). I just finished a book about emerging diseases and it discussed the history of lyme disease. As the doctor probably told you, it’s most serious because it’s frequently mis-diagnosed, and then gets to be serious. Hopefully, Terry won’t have any more issues. No Lyme this far south, but after your tale, we’ll be on the lookout for halos. And BTW, nice pony photos. ~James

    • Thanks James. Lyme disease sort of freaks me out as we have two friends from back east who are permanently disabled from being misdiagnosed early on after contracting Lyme disease. It wasn’t until further health issues developed that they learned they had contracted the disease. Terry and I have promised ourselves that we will be more diligent about doing tick checks.

  • Your shots of those beautiful horses are really wonderful, LuAnn. I’m so glad that Terry got those tick bites seen to, and is okay now. I had to laugh at Rommel. He is always very inquisitive. 😀

  • This post had everything, horses, danger and one of those Indiana Jones style bridges. I hope Mr T is getting better now and that it won’t disrupt you guys to much.

    I love the new look and the names on the map Kill Devil Hills and Gumneck, quality names from a quality blog.

  • I hope your hubby is all right. Ticks can be such a miserable thing. Here in the mountains one has to be on the watch for sure. Lovely photos of the little horses.

  • LuAnn: am loving following your travels! Glad that Terry got to a doc for those tic icks… I once had a woman on a hiking program with that halo–she had come from the East, must have been bitten there since we don’t have those tiny Lyme-infested tics, yet… This season I’ve seen a lot of tics as usual teaching the April 3 week class–but with the colder weather, there don’t seem to be quite as many as other years… yet. Thinking they’ll pop out as soon as it warms up a bit more. Eww. we all agree they give us the heebie jeebies!!
    Love the horse pictures–much better than tics!! I’ve never seen a wild horse, but they are such iconic critters, and the idea of wild horses is so inspirational. Thanks for sharing your horse experience!
    Best wishes as you travel on…

    • Thanks Julianne. Our biggest challenge volunteering in Greenbelt Park in DC will be staying tick-free. Many people to this park are tent campers and I don’t think I could do it with a tick-alert in this park.

      We miss Yellowstone and speak often of our time there. I would love to see you blog about some of your experiences there. 😀

    • Lyme disease makes me very nervous after seeing how it has affected a couple of my friends. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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