Friday, September 13, 2013

Banker Horse

 Off the Coast of North Carolina lay a group of islands known as the Outer Banks. Wild horses, known as Bankers, have lived there for centuries, carrying a blood variant that was present in ancient Spanish horses.

 During the times of the exploration of the New World, Spaniards had several breeding stations located throughout the Caribbean, where they would breed work and saddle horses. In 1526, eighty-nine horses from one island, Hispaniola, and 500 people travelled up the coastline of North and South Carolina  and Virginia in hopes of creating a colony. Their efforts flopped. Within the year, the colony disbanded, leaving behind deceased people and many horses to return the Caribbean island of Antilles. The abandoned horses travelled back to the coast of North Carolina, swimming to the nearby Shackleford Banks island. With no interference from mankind, the number of horses grew, helped along by groups of horses abandoned in shipwrecks.

Banker horses are relatively small, though they have the
proportions of a regular horse. source
 In 1926, National Geographic stated that 5 to 6,000 horses lived on the islands off the coast of North Carolina. By the late 1950s, thousands had been removed under the mistaken belief that horses and other livestock caused the Banks to wash away. Residents managed to convince the state legislature to stop removing horses until they had hard evidence that they were causing damage, but not before the majority had been taken away.

 Only 350 Bankers are left in the world today, with a herd 117 in Shackleford. The legislation protecting them limits their number, using birth control to do so. Excess horses are adopted out of the herd.

 Breed Description and Uses:
 Standing under 14.2 hands high, Bankers are compact with strong haunches and slender legs. His profile is straight.Bankers belong to the same group of old-style Spanish horses that the Paso Fino belongs to, coming complete with several inherited gaits: the running walk, single foot, amble, and pace. They come in chestnut, buckskin, dun, bay, and sometimes pinto.

 Though Bankers are protected in their natural habitat, several people have taken them off the island in past years and trained for personal use in driving, trail riding, and mounted patrols. 

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