Some of you know that I grew up on the little island of Bermuda, some 700+ miles off the coast of North Carolina. On this sun-filled, tropical island, I learned how to swim and how to ride horses. My childhood memories are full of bareback riding adventures along the sandy pink beaches and into the turquoise Atlantic waters on those blistering hot summer days. I explored the water by boat and the ocean with scuba gear. Life with and surrounded by water was what I learned. Why I live in Vermont is, at times, anybody’s guess.
In May of this year, I experienced my first exposure to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and discovered an incredible landscape of two of my favorite things. Wild horses and the Atlantic ocean. I had never seen these two passions together before. I was beside myself with excitement as I jumped overboard from a skiff to wade through waist-high water with camera in-hand to photograph horses swimming or meandering around in shin-high waters as small herds of wild horses moved from one sand bank to the other for grazing and let’s not forget walking the beaches after herds as they grazed the sea grasses. Is there any wonder that I was in my element?! The stories behind these horses are plentiful and the environment they live in, while seemingly ideal, present them with uniquely harsh challenges that they have adapted to and miraculously have managed to survive in.
I grew up with the story books of “Misty from Chincoteague” and “Stormy, Misty’s Foal.” Never in my wildest dreams did it occur to me that the stories depicted in Marguerite Henry’s classic tales were based around true events until I pulled out my childhood editions upon my return from the Outer Banks. While the location of her stories differ, they do take place in neighboring Virgina and many of the storm events that she writes of also effected the Outer Banks. Her tales of wild horses being relocated several miles away in the height of a hurricane actually still happens today and are something all the herds along the coastal shores contend with.
So now, I am returning to this very special place of sea, beach and horses that I feel an intrinsic connection to once again. My hope is that no hurricanes will appear (it is hurricane season after all) so I can spend some time among the herds, learning a little bit more about these wild horses that have survived shipwrecks and hurricanes and human encroachment, all the while trying to create photographs that express the beauty and essence of these special horses that I fondly refer to as “sea horses.”