The beautiful wild ponies of Assateague Island. Something I’d always wanted to see and it was a thrill to go there with my family and experience this beautiful place with these amazing creatures.
Miles and miles of of gloriously empty beach. Just water and sand and sky. Over the dunes there is vegetation, then a single strip of road, followed by more trees and plants that flow into a salt marsh. And in and around it all, wild ponies, deer, birds and all the other creatures that rightfully occupy this well-preserved space. It it believed that the ponies arrived in this peaceful place 400 years ago, most probably, from a sinking Spanish ship.
We went to see and learn about the wild ponies. We drove around a bit but didn’t spot any so we went down to the ocean. The kids splashed in the cold ocean water, collected seashells and just generally zoomed around. There couldn’t be a more perfect wide open space for kid-zooming.
We had almost given up on seeing the ponies. Then, as we turned to leave the bathhouse, two ponies were running straight towards us! They swerved away from us, frolicked with each other and continued trotting on down the road.
Our spirits buoyed, we set out in the car again to look for more. And look at what we found…
A mare and her foal!
We loved his curly coat and wished that we could pet him.
We watched as he delighted us by rolling around in the grass and then looking as if he were going to doze off. But his momma continued to move on, grazing as she went, so he got up and followed her.
We so enjoyed seeing the ponies and the beautiful beach of Assateague, that we went back again the next day. We flew our kites on the beach, then went to look for the ponies again and guess what? We found our favorite little guy and his momma again!
Each year, in July, the wild ponies are rounded up and taken to the end of Assateague to swim across the channel to Chincoteague, the next barrier island. Some of the foals and yearlings are sold at auction. We learned that this is done to raise funds for the Chincoteague fire department, as well as to control the equine population of the island. The rest of the ponies swim back to Assateague.
If you ever get an opporunity to visit this lovely little corner of the planet, I highly recommend it. To learn more about the wild ponies of Assateague Island:
- Assateague Island National Seashore website, with more detailed history of the ponies.
- Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry, Newbery Honor award winning novel. First in a series of books by the author about the wild ponies of Chincoteague and Assateague.
- Misty, movie based on the above book, on DVD, 1961.
See the photos from the beautiful hike we took while on Assateague Island. So much to do and explore in this beautiful place!
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