The Wild Horses of Assateague Island


After reading the story Thirty Horses by Tony Hayes in the December 1999 issue of the Tintota Magazine, I decided that the article about the horses was of particular interest to me, probably because of the herd of “wild horses” that roam the barrier islands named Assatague and Chincoeague off the coasts of Maryland and Virginia. These horses are small, short, squat and “cute” – all of which most likely cause them to be referred to as “ponies” though they are indeed WILD! They have become accustomed to tourists and will fearlessly approach vehicles on the parking lots where they are fed candy bars and other “people foods. “If one of these horses approaches our vehicle, we immediately raise the windows. These tame-looking animals will push their heads into an open space begging for goodies. Feeding them is,. of course, discouraged. During the cold months (when there are no people around), the horses must be able to forage and find food for themselves. A steady diet of pop corn and candy would undoubtedly sicken them.

Visitors are often anxious to catch a glimpse of these creatures and ask our opinion regarding the most advantageous viewing areas. During the summer months, this is hardly a problem. Of course, the parking lots are a sure bet. Also, while slowly driving on the Assateague Island roads, another sure sign that there are horses nearby are piles of “droppings” in the road. One need only pull over to the side and look in the marshland for a sighting. At other times, one might come across three or four parked automobiles with a small cluster of people standing nearby admiring a family of horses. The male is very protective of his family and will kick anyone whom he perceives as a threat – even those adults who innocently reach out to pet one of the adorable looking little ones.

I would like to extend an invitation to all of you to visit Assateague Island. When you do, bear in mind that these delightful, pudgy looking ponies are in reality WILD HORSES!

– Hinde Friedman
New York, New York, U.S.A.

A couple of websites you might like to visit (Ed):
Wild Horses of Assateague/Chincoteague
Wild Horses of Assateague Island

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