With much heart ache, my husband and I decided to sell our 30 foot sailboat, Sea Otter, 3 years ago. Our final vacation on the boat was a sail to Cape Lookout, the southernmost outer bank of North Carolina. This trip was memorable as neither of us almost died and nothing on the boat broke. We didn’t even run aground once. The highlight of the trip however, was our experience on Shackleford Banks.
One morning, we rowed ashore from our anchorage and strolled leisurely along the shore of Shackleford to the back side of the island. As we sat down for lunch, out of the brush walked 6 wild horses. I was a little intimidated as the horses were within 5 feet of us, and though smaller than domestic breeds, were very stout. They weren’t skittish in the least. In fact, the stallion appeared curious and started coming towards me. Luckily, I have excellent skills at maneuvering away from curious four legged creatures (usually deer), especially if I have some apples to throw in their direction. This time, I was only equipped with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was hungry and it was a long walk back to the boat so I held on to my sandwich and took my chances. Fortunately, the stallion decided that his usual diet of estuarial grass was more his taste for the day than what I had to eat.
As my husband and I continued walking along the mud flats collecting mussels for our dinner, we came upon a second group of horses. They weren’t disturbed and continued eating, allowing us to walk amongst them as if we were one of the herd. I was snapping pictures the entire time and was thrilled that Cape Lookout Lighthouse was visible in the background. I had always wondered where photographers shot those pictures. Now I had my own.
This experience so filled my heart that I wanted to keep expressing it over and over. Horses were the dominate theme in my paintings for over 2 1/2 years. I have so many of these paintings now that people often tell me I must be a horse person. Honestly, horses wild or domesticated intimidate me and I have only ridden twice in my life (if clinging counts). I tell people I’m not so much a horse person as an outer banks person.
I’ll never forget the incredible sense of space in this place: the vast mudflats and the wild horses under such an enormous sky. It was a timeless place, purely Nature made and unspoiled by human hand.