Legend has it the Ocracoke ponies arrived in the Outer Banks with shipwrecked explorers in the 16th or 17th century, and they’ve called the island home ever since. While many of these early ponies were claimed by residents, some were left to roam wild. The National Park Service took over their care and maintenance in the 1960s to keep them safe as the island’s human population continued to grow. Today you can support them through our Adopt A Pony program!
December 13th is National Day of the Horse – to celebrate we’d like to introduce you to another Ocracoke Pony family: Jitterbug, Jobelle, Rayo and Captain! This modern family makes up more than 1/4 of the herd managed by your park staff at Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Now that Ocracoke Island has reopened to visitors, we hope you’ll make plans to head down and say hi!
Jitterbug: Hey there (or is it, “Hay there”?)! My name is Jitterbug, and I am a Chestnut mare. I was born in 2008 on Shackleford Banks, which is located on Cape Lookout National Seashore, just south of Hatteras. I’m about 11 years old in pony years, which makes me about 33 years old in human years! I was adopted into the Ocracoke herd in 2010. I gave birth to my son, Captain, in 2013 and my daughter, Jobelle, in 2017. My caretakers think I’m rather lively—I was named after the dance was popular in the early 20th century! (Click here to Adopt Jitterbug)
Jobelle: Hello! My name is Jobelle, and I am a Palomino mare. I was born on May 7, 2017, to my mom and dad, Jitterbug and Rayo. I’m two years old in pony years, which means I’m six years old in human years! I also have an older brother, Captain. I love my Ocracoke Island home and when it’s warm, I enjoy soaking up the sun! I am a favorite of the Ocracoke School children—they gave me my name. “Jobelle” is what the locals call the colorful, hardy gaillardia flowers (or “blanket flowers”) that are plentiful in the Outer Banks. (Click here to Adopt Jobelle)
Rayo: Howdy! My name is Rayo, and I am the youngest stallion of the Ocracoke herd. I was born on March 26, 2012. I am seven years old in pony years, which makes me about 21 years old in human years! I am also the father of Jobelle. My name is Spanish for “lightening” or “ray.” My handlers say I am spunky, active and curious. I certainly live up to my name! (Click here to Adopt Rayo)
Captain: Good day! My name is Captain Marvin Howard, but my family and friends call me “Captain” for short. I am a Chestnut stallion—one of two stallions in the Ocracoke herd. I was born on May 9, 2013, to my mom, Jitterbug. I’m six years old in pony years, which means I’m 18 years old in human years. Jobelle is my baby sister! (Mom sure has her hooves full.) Marvin Howard, my namesake, is an Ocracoke native, who founded the only mounted boy scout troop in the United States, which was responsible for taming and caring for the wild pony herd in the 1950s. (Click here to Adopt Captain)
When you Adopt A Pony with a gift of $35 or more, you will receive an adoption certificate and a picture of your pony or the herd. Learn more about the history of the ponies here.