Monday, November 05, 2018

Ocracoke Ponies

Although more than 300 Banker Ponies (actually small horses) once roamed wild over Ocracoke Island, today only a small remnant herd remains, cared for by volunteers and staff of the National Park Service.

Former Park Ranger Jim Henning was one of the first people to investigate the origin of the ponies. According to Jean Day in her 1997 book, Banker Ponies, an endangered species, Henning "identified several physical characteristics of the Spanish mustangs in the horses. They have fewer lumber vertebrae than the average horse, have five to ten times greater bone density than most horses and are able to carry heavy weights. Their wide foreheads and short, strong necks and beautiful flowing manes and tails are also characteristic of the Spanish mustang."

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here:


  1. Phillip,

    Do you have an opinion on the origins of the Ponies on the Outer Banks? Ive heard everything from the Spanish to one of Walter Raleighs ships Rre-Roanoake

    1. Jason, I think any and all of the conjectures might be correct. Horses were important for the Spanish, the English, and the early colonial owners of the island. Some of the horses probably swan ashore after shipwrecks, others were brought here intentionally by the early settlers.