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Pony Patrol

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).

Assateague National Seashore

Assateague National Seashore

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!

Assateague Ponies

Assateague National Seashore

Newborn Foal

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:

Pony Parking

Saving A Space

…and even ponies like to hear the sound of the waves…

Ponies on the Seashore

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23 Responses

  1. Mandy

    That’s so cool. I’ve been reading up on the Outer Banks for our upcoming trip there. There are wild ponies for the same reason, but they’ve have to corral them recently because too many were being hit and killed by cars. So they are fenced in now, and don’t roam freely around the islands.

  2. Jennifer

    Thank you for posting this. I read Misty of Chincoteague as a child and am still fascinated by the thought of these wild ponies. I’ve never been, so thank you for taking us with you.

  3. sam

    I loved the books about the island and they were books that my grandmother had and gave to my mom to give to me- I’ve always wanted to go there!

  4. Laurie

    So lovely…thanks for sharing. :-)

  5. Natasa

    Gorgeous pictures!

  6. pia

    Great photos! I camped out there a few summers ago and what an experience! We got up one morning to a pony standing right outside the tent, waiting to greet us!

  7. Kim

    Thanks so much for sharing these photos, Lolly! I read Misty of Chincoteague and was crazy fascinated with Assateague and Chincoteague islands. I’ve always wanted to go camp there and see those ponies first hand. Seeing your photos may spur me to finally do it.

  8. Margarita

    I remember reading you about these ponies. Wonderful pictures!! really lovely, thanks,

  9. madison

    this is the post that made my afternoon! you see, i’m going to chincoteague and assateague for my honeymoon in two and a half months. i haven’t visited since i was in middle school, and my fiancee has never been. you’ve reminded me how excited i am to go back, and i’m going to show him these pictures so he can see what he’s getting into!

  10. Beatriz

    This is so interesting. Thanks for sharing the great photos!

  11. KimW

    Beautiful photos — as always!

  12. Jennifer

    wonderful pictures, it sounds like a lovely place to visit!

  13. Suzanne

    Love the pictures!

  14. Maya

    stunning photography!!!

  15. Peaceful Knitter

    That last picture is breathtaking. What a special place!

  16. shizzknits

    Ohhhhh gorgeous ponies and gorgeous shots!! I remember reading the “Misty” books when I was younger…..wish we lived close so we could visit…

  17. felinemagnet

    I have such great memories of seeing the ponies when I was a kid. They’re really a special part of Assateague. I remember one time there was a group of ponies on the beach surrounding a foal who was lying on the sand, keeping everyone away.

  18. Kim in Michigan

    That looks like a magical place. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful photos!

  19. rachel

    I used to make my poor parents take me to see the ponies run from Assateague to Chincoteague every summer – and it’s one of my favorite childhood memories. Great photos!

  20. Josiane

    There’s something magical to that last picture. Lovely!

  21. Milly

    When I was very little my grandfather attended the auction one year and my first pony was from the island. I have a picture of her and I. I was 12 months old and she was 15 months old. She was sweet as could be. When I was four years old my grandfather went back to the auction and bought a second one for me, she I started showing her in lead line classes when I was four.

    Both were wonderful ponies and lived very comfortable lives with lots of love until the were 30 years old!

  22. Sandy W

    Thanks for this fun post. It’s been almost 20 years since I visited these islands and saw the ponies. I stayed at Miss Molly’s Inn and that is supposed to be where Marguerite Henry was staying when she wrote “Misty”. It’s a great place to visit. Also, a yarn shop that I’ve ordered from recently moved there from Virginia. Caroline, the owner, is great to work with at Carodan Farms.

  23. Chandler

    Assateague is one of my most desired future trips. Ever since I was a kid I loved the idea of an island full of horses. We’ll be Back East next summer…maybe I can work a super long detour into our itinerary!

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