Sable Island horses

Sable Island in Nova Scotia has more wild horses than people

The horses of Sable Island in Nova Scotia are a national wonder. Sitting far out in the Atlantic Ocean with its crescent-shaped sandbar emerging from the expanse of the sea, the remote Sable Island is one of Canada’s furthest offshore islands.

Its narrow sandbar extends over 43 kilometres in length and is only one kilometre across at its widest point.

There are no trees on the island and instead, shifting sand dunes – which are among Eastern Canada’s largest – as well as marram grass and other low-growing vegetation dominate this rustic landscape.

This protected National Park Reserve is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna including a rare horse breed, the Sable Island horse. 

The 550 free-roaming wild horses, which go completely unmanaged, are the only permanent residents of the island.

In the past, horses used to be rounded up and shipped off the island to be used in coal mines on Cape Breton Island. The island and the horses have since been given full protection from human interference. 

The park is also a breeding ground for marine life and has the world’s biggest breeding colony of grey seals lives on its extensive beaches. 

The many horses and other species that call this island home, brave the extreme weather conditions of what has been named "Graveyard of the Atlantic." More than 350 vessels have been wrecked due to the rough seas, fog, and submerged sandbars, which surround the island. 

Sable Island is one of the most remote spots in Canada, and is only accessible by boat or charter plane making it tough to reach. Due to this, only about 400 people visit the island each year.

Vehicles are also restricted on the island, so exploring requires a lot of walking and the sandy terrain can make long distances much more difficult. 

Regardless of the challenges, the chance to see these wild horses in their natural habitat is a rare opportunity that should most definitely be added to your bucket list. 

Lead photo by

sableislandwildhorses


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