Monday, November 15, 2010
Wild Pony Photoshoot Adventure! :)
ALBUM -> http://www.artbymorgen.com/galleries/Shackleford_Ponies_2010/album/
Since moving down here to North Carolina I've been wanting to go out to Shackleford Island (isolated island of the Grand Banks) and see these "wild horses". They're ponies by everyone's standards but they are the descendants of shipwrecked Spanish (primarily they believe) horses from hundreds of years ago. "Banker Ponies" is another moniker they have if you're curious to look em up. :)
Now as my friend here (Maggie Bennett - she's the one in the leather jacket in the first pic) who went out there with me can tell you - no full size horse would survive on this island! It's got this low scrub brush interior that's ideal for tucking into during hurricanes.... and we very nearly had to get on our knees to navigate around ourselves on the horse paths in our exploration!
It was just the most fun ever! From our ferry trip out where wild dolphins leapt around our little 15ft ferry... to being dropped off on our own to explore like naturalists. Mosquitoes and swamp lands and all. Finding ponies (as you can see hopefully in many of those pics), in all kinds of surprising nooks and crannies all along the way during our adventure. :)
There are a little over a 100 ponies on this nine mile island. In four and a half hours we only made it half way down the island - no small feat with the hilly dunes and grasses that were really strong & tripped you all the time! At first it seemed like we kept seeing only the same 5 or 6 horses but in reviewing these pictures - and even then, you realize the hip numbers are different. It's almost surreal.
I don't get too excited about horses in real life anymore to be honest. I've spent half my life working with horses on a daily basis and I adore them but I don't get all"eeee" excited like a little kid usually anymore... I love to work with them and enjoy seeing them do well at what they do, or in interacting with them... but on the whole, I'm not one to go to uncomfortable lengths like this to see them usually. Not to horse shows per say, unless there is something exceptionally different going on. But there is something really magical about sneaking around to see horses in bands behaving like horses really do. It really rejuvenated the childlike wonder somehow for me - I joke that it was a "magical island" but it sincerely was pretty mystical.
So thank you so much to Maggie for going with me! She and I drove 4hrs from different directions to converge on this place. I'm really glad to have had company - and she also convinced me to use my nicer Nikon camera I bought this spring (I'm so afraid to take this thing out of the studio! It's a D3000 and I'm still really barely able to use it).. And she also convinced me to skip the tripod biz and use the auto settings (she has nearly the same model - I'm so used to "auto" being awful!). My Samsung point and shoot 1st choice camera's batteries didn't hold a charge in the cold I guess...
I would absolutely recommend to anyone wanting to go see wild ponies to consider this particular island. I just can't wait to go back this coming spring. I did want to go first in the fall here when the ponies were at their heaviest & had sprouted woolen coats... I'm so glad we did. From spring through Oct there are other ferry services that converge on it with groups - typically guided type ones as near as I can tell... but this was just a ferry service. When we landed there we looked at each other and had no clue what direction to start off in! Anyhow, so hopefully my little photo essay gives you a real feel for it. The weather was wonderful! Light warm breeze on and off. Around 70 degrees F and believe me, any warmer with that dune and sand walking and I dunno... we both hike with our dogs regularly but neither of us was in shape so it was a good workout! Next time though, I hope we can get dropped off at the other end of the island to see what's down there... ;)
Edited to add in the dolphin picture!
Maggie just sent me these. I looked for dolphins when we went to Madeira Beach last winter the WHOLE time we were down there. Everywhere we drove, I was staring off at the water afraid to blink... since I was told they were out there "ALL the time"... well I did finally see a few... far far away and I was pretty goofy excited. I've seen lots of dolphins in aquariums too and they don't get me too hyped up either... but wild? Hanging around checking out the people??? Nothing is more cool than that! So when these guys sprouted up as we were crossing the water, I was blown away. Our ferry fellow stopped for us. Maggie at least was ready to snap pics within 30 seconds.. me? I'm swearing and cursing and happy at least I brought two camera... ;) But no really, I was mostly just fumbling because I was afraid to look away from the water. Dolphins just rock. Magical wild pony island protected by wild dolphins. What a blast! :D