Diamond City, NC Today

Shackleford Banks Horses

Carolyn Salter Mason, Foundation for Shackleford Horses

Late 1400s: Columbus brought the first Iberian (Spanish) horses to the island of Hispaniola, and started breeding ranches to supply "the little conquistadors" with mounts for their explorations. The soldier-explorers usually rode stallions, but Columbus made certain that mares were included whenever a ship was coming to the New World.

Early 1500s: Lucas Vasques de Ayllon attempted to settle our mid-Atlantic coast. Of the 500 colonists brought from Hispaniola, only 150 souls survived to catch a passing ship back home. The 89 to 100 horses brought, were abandoned when the colony failed.

Late 1500s: Sir Richard Grenville traded for supplies and animals with the Spanish in Hispaniola, and brought horses up the Carolina coast for an English colony at Roanoke. His ship, the "Tiger," grounded in an inlet through what is now known as North Core Banks, and had to be careened for repairs. Livestock, including the horses, would have been cast overboard to lighten the ship, allowing passage over the inlet bar.

There are mentions in records spanning the years between then and now of these Banker horses. There are descriptions of their size, toughness, temperament, etc., which varied little over the generations from that of the original Spanish stock from whence they came. And, there are oral histories and traditions handed down faithfully from one generation to another of the coastal people .. "The horses have always been here. They swam ashore off sinking ships."

For dark-eyed foals that hide in marsh

and run along the surf,

hoofed legacies from centuries

past kept secret on this coast ...

From "Our Shared Past" prepared for the Diamond City & Ca'e Bankers Reunion, August 1999 as a collection of writings, research and recollections to tell the story of the Banks communities. Copyright 1995, Core Sound Waterfowl Museum All rights reserved.

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