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Riding My Horse at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

One cool thing about living here is that there are plenty of places to ride. A large portion of the island is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which means that the beaches here are public, and access can’t be restricted by hotels or homeowners. As taxpayers, we all own the beaches here and we’re all allowed to use them (responsibly and according to the rules, of course). There are a few trail systems on the island as well. The area around the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has a small nature trail for kids and families, and a longer multi-use trail for hikers, bikers and horseback riders.

About to tack up with the lighthouse in the distance.

I’ve been meaning to ride at the lighthouse and check out the Open Ponds trail for a while, and this morning I finally got a chance. I was supposed to meet a friend and her horse, but the timing didn’t work out and I ended up going with Baron alone. We ended up just riding along the road instead of going on the trail through the woods. Baron just doesn’t do all that well in the woods by himself. Bikes and deer and dogs are all a bit scary for him. I decided to do the trail when we had a friend along. It’s strange, but he does better on a road with trucks going by and heavy machinery moving sand around than he does in the quiet woods.

Tacked up and ready to go.

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was built in 1870 to help guide mariners through the Diamond Shoals, a series of ever-shifting underwater sandbars that caused hundreds of shipwrecks and led to the area off Cape Hatteras being nicknamed The Graveyard of the Atlantic. The light is visible up to 30 miles offshore. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest in North America (the tallest in the world is on a river in Poland, oddly enough). The lighthouse is an iconic symbol of the Outer Banks, easily recognized by its black and white swirl. A bazillion souvenirs with its image are hawked on the Outer Banks every year.

Playing tourist with my horse.

Right now in the winter, the area around the lighthouse is pretty quiet. There were a few surfers braving the cold water in wetsuits, and a few tourists in the parking lot that we rode through. Some deer were out and about, enjoying a sunny day that felt like spring was in the air.

I didn’t get a ton of riding pictures because Baron is always amped to be in a new spot alone. I wanted to ride farther, but he got a little weird about something up ahead that I couldn’t even see. I have a feeling he heard or smelled deer in the woods beside us and he was very concerned. We turned around and rode back to “safety.”

Very interested in the deer he saw in the distance!

Later, after I untacked him, four does came out of the woods to graze and I walked Baron over so he could get a good look. He was intensely interested in them. I know that deer come into his pasture and drink the water from his trough, because I see their tracks every day. It’s not like he’s never seen a deer before, but today he was very concerned. He is always a bit overdramatic until he gets used to a new place!

Still totally fixated on the deer.

It was another good ride through beautiful scenery. What more can I ask for?

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