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Sable Island Wild Horses: A Canadian Heritage- Part 1…

The Island

Sable Island is a sand bar – 42 km long and roughly 1.5 km wide – located far offshore, approximately 160 km southeast of Canso, Nova Scotia.  The island has been the focus of , imagination and speculation for over 500 years.  Shipwrecks, wild horses, seabirds and seals, and inaccessibility have endowed this narrow wind-swept sliver of sand with a special mystique. 

Sable Island is about 3400 ha, and is comprised of beaches, sand dunes, inland fields of grass and heath, and freshwater ponds. 

The island is a year-round home to approximately five people. Sable Island is protected under the Canada Shipping Act, which means that permission must be obtained from the Canadian Coast Guard to visit the island. 

About 40% of the land surface area is vegetated.  In summer and autumn the island is cloaked with lush, green vegetation and wildflowers. In winter and early spring the dunes are rather bleak, grey and windswept, and appear deceptively devoid of vegetation.  There are no trees on the island.


The most famous, and perhaps the most popular, of Sable Island’s fauna are the wild horses. Although access to the island is restricted – both by location and by regulations – the horses are well-known, and are of great interest, culturally and scientifically.

How the horses came to Sable Island…

A Boston clergyman, the Reverend Andrew Le Mercier, sent the first horses to graze on the island in 1737. Most of them were probably stolen by privateers and fishermen. These horses survived and became wild.

The Sable Island horses are among the few wild horse populations that are entirely unmanaged: they are not subject to any kind of interference. The number of horses on Sable Island generally ranges between 200 to 350.

Watch this short clip from the documentary ‘Chasing Wild Horses’ which tells the story of photographer Roberto Dutesco and his passion for the incredible wild horses of Sable Island…


In part 2: A Life Full & Free- Herd Life & Behaviour, Foals & Naming the horses…


*All rights & credits to for the information and  some of the photos in article. This information does not belong to me and I do not claim to have written it.

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