The Wild Horses of Sable Island

I was channel surfing the other day and happened upon a documentary entitled “Chasing Wild Horses”. It’s about Roberto Dutesco, a New York fashion photographer who visits the remote Sable Island, a windswept crescent of land off of the coast of Nova Scotia. He goes there to photograph some of the 300 wild horses that roam freely on this bleak, grassy islet:

I’m not really a man for photos of horses, but Dutesco’s work is pretty striking.

I was more interested to learn about why there are a bunch of feral horses on this tiny island with a permanent human population of five. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

The first horses on Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada were brought to the island during the late 1700s. Many people believe that they arrived on the island from off of the many shipwrecks, however, this romantic notion is false – they were in fact intentionally left on Sable to graze and multiply, and were most likely seized from Acadians during their expulsion from Nova Scotia at the hands of the British. Although often referred to as ponies due to their small size, they have a horse phenotype.

The whole island is a wildlife preserve, so the animals are left in their natural state. You apparently need special permission from the Canadian Coast Guard to visit.

Photo is not by Dutesco, but rather by Ron Dunnington.


  1. If you fancy a rather tacky love story, “The Nymph and the Lamp” by Raddall, 1950, is situated around the little island. It’s about a radio operator and life on the island.

  2. I’ve always wanted to go to Sable Island, since I found out about it as a teenager living in Charlottetown.

    More recently, as I’ve gotten into photography, I’ve wanted to go back even more to take photos of the horses.

    I’m mildly jealous that someone got there before me. 😛

  3. I would love going on sable Island If i could! I am doing a project on sable island! I am almost done my project!

  4. I saw the venture on television and have now visited on the internet. I must say, this is a most beautiful experience . Very few things bring tears of joy to me. This was one of them. Thank you!

  5. How or why was Dutesco given permission to go on Sable Island? Has he used any of his considerable financial gain to the welfare of these beautiful creatures?

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