Tourist Poses With Wild Horse for Picture, Gets Kicked and Fined

by Amy Myers

Home to more than 100 wild horses, these creatures are one of the main attractions at Cape Lookout National Seashore. However, as this tourist found out, the seashore’s wild horses pack quite a punch when approached.

On Facebook, the national park posted a photo of a woman shamelessly petting the horse as her likely husband snapped a photo. Ironically, that photo was the reason the park was able to charge and fine her.

“Thank you to everyone who is watching out for the safety of the horses and visitors on Shackleford Banks,” the national seashore shared. “These visitors were cited BY PHOTO for wildlife harassment. The horse communicated its annoyance (see the photo) and kicked the woman.”

If you’re not familiar with a horse’s body language, you may very well miss some huge indicators of its behavior. In this case, the photo shows that the horse’s ears are back, a sign that it is aggravated and uncomfortable with the human that so ignorantly decided to pet it.

Not surprisingly, seconds later, the woman ended up with a hoof to the side.

National Seashore Reminds Visitors to Observe Wild Horses From Safe Distance

Painful as the lesson is, it’s a necessary lesson nonetheless. The difference between broken horses and wild ones isn’t simply a saddle and stall. These animals will protect themselves like any other wild creature you may come across in our national parks. As such, they require the same distance and respect as you would give an elk or a bear.

Cape Lookout even gave its parkgoers tips for safe photo-taking on Facebook just a few weeks prior to the incident.

“Taking a photo of our wild horses on Shackleford Banks should be done with caution. They are wild after all, and they will take action to protect themselves, their foal or their mares from what they perceive as dangerous actions by humans,” the park wrote. “For this reason, those taking photos should be about one bus length away from the horses and use a telephoto or zoom lens to take the picture.”

Cape Lookout Followers Say Park Should Reveal Woman’s Identity

It’s not clear how much the park fined the woman for approaching the horse, but even with the injury and penalty, netizens believed that officials should have left the woman’s face unblurred in the photo on Facebook.

“Why block out her face? She deserves to be seen. It should be part of the penalty,” one person suggested.

Another agreed, “What is wrong with people?!? She would probably get too close to the bison in Yellowstone too!”

Locals, in particular, were furious about the incident, as the wild horses have become such a vital part of the ecosystem.

“Do people think the banks are petting zoos? Those of us who live here know to give the horses plenty of space, and then some. I don’t get it,” one angry local wrote. “Real life isn’t like everything people see on tv. There can be serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences!”