Kris’s family goes to the Maryland and Delaware beaches each summer and we always join them for a long weekend. It’s a tradition-filled excursion; we tend to visit the same places and do the same activities each year. It’s quite fun to have these same activities and compare them year to year. One of the longstanding traditions is a trip to Assateague Island and the Assateague Island National Seashore, a barrier island off the coast of Maryland. The island, as you may recall from previous posts on the subject, is home to dozens of wild ponies, descendants of the horses from a shipwreck centuries ago (date is unknown, but figured to be in the eighteenth or nineteenth century).
These animals have adapted to their environment and can drink the brackish waters of the marshlands and can eat and survive on the limited vegetation. Because of this, their growth has been stunted over the generations – which makes them “ponies” rather than “horses” because they are not as tall as the regular horse breeds.
This year, we saw more ponies than ever before – between 20 and 25. (Every other year we saw about 5 or less) Luckily, we also had our new camera and some lenses to play around with as we photographed the lovely animals. It was a highlight year!
We came across this large band of ponies – lead by an alpha male. When another male came towards the group, the alpha chased him off with hoof stomping and neighing. The last picture shows a foal, only a week old according to the ranger. Baby’s hair was wavy ~ so sweet!
The ponies have free reign over the island, but there are still areas for sightseers and campers to park their cars. It was quite a funny juxtaposition to see the ponies lined up in between the cars in the campground parking lot:
…and even ponies like to hear the sound of the waves…