INSIDER TIP Alexander Graham Bell was one of the earliest tourists, searching for a good friend whose ship crashed offshore.
Approximately 430 horses roam Sable Island; they are a mix of genes from French and New England breeds. Since 1961 when the Canadian Shipping Act forbid interfering with or removing horses, the population has been genetically isolated. Sable Island horses were once thought to descend from horses shipped on one of over 350 vessels shipwrecked on its submerged sandbars. The horses aren’t talking but people now think the first horses were brought here by a Boston merchant and turned feral when farming died out. The small size may have you wonder if you’re looking at ponies, but these are tough horses who survive long winters on little more than grass.
You can’t get closer than 65 feet to the horses. The horses haven’t read the rulebook, so they can come closer to you, but Parks Canada wants you to back up and let the horses have their space. Even at that distance, you will see the wind-whipped manes, angular frames, and regal gazes that make them beautiful.
Like the ever-present wind, time on Sable Island moves quickly. Sitting in the company of these scrappy horses that show no fear of humans or death, you might wonder if you’ve discovered the real mystery of Sable Island.