Even many individuals who have never gone to the island of Assateague are familiar with the island’s wild horses. The horses that are considered “wild” on Assateague are actually feral animals, which means that they are descended from domestic animals that accidentally turned wild. On this isolated, windswept barrier island, horses hardy enough to endure the sweltering heat, countless bugs, erratic weather, and poor quality food have developed a distinctive wild horse civilization. By admiring these exceptional wild horses from a distance, you can ensure that they will survive on Assateague Island.
-According to local mythology, the Assateague horses were survivors of a shipwreck off the coast of Virginia. Although this gripping story of struggle and survival is well known, there are currently no records to support it. The most likely theory is that they are descended from horses that were imported to barrier islands like Assateague by mainland owners in the late 17th century to get around fence regulations and livestock taxes.
-On the Maryland and Virginia sides of Assateague, respectively, there are two primary herds of horses. At the border between Virginia and Maryland, a barrier separates them. Each band in these herds has its own home area and is made up of two to twelve animals. The Maryland herd is overseen by the National Park Service. Through a special use permission provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company owns and oversees the Virginia herd, which is permitted to graze on Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. In order to safeguard the wildlife refuge’s other natural resources, the permit caps the herd at about 150 adult animals. The term “Chincoteague” ponies is frequently used to describe the Virginia herd of ponies.
-The well-known novel Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry is where many visitors first learn about the Assateague ponies. The story takes place at the annual Pony Penning event held in Chincoteague. The Virginia herd of horses is gathered and swum from Assateague Island to nearby Chincoteague Island on the final Wednesday of July. The majority of the young foals are auctioned off the following day. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department benefits from the sale’s proceeds. For the precise dates of Pony Penning, get in touch with the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company or the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce.
-The horses of Assateague are stunning, hardy, and untamed. They have mastered surviving in hostile conditions. Visitors and horses both suffer when they are fed and/or petted. Ingestion of human food can make horses ill. People who learn to approach the road to beg for food are frequently run over and killed by vehicles. Every year, people who come too close to the wild horses are attacked by them, getting kicked, bit, and knocked to the ground. Wild horses lose their unique wildness when they are treated like domestic animals. Respect their family in order to protect yours. Give the horses the room they require to roam freely.
-There aren’t many locations in the US where you can see wild horses. The Assateague horses exhibit an extensive range of distinctive behaviors as a result of their intricate social organization. Utilize the chance to see these horses in their natural environment. Thousands of nature lovers, photographers, and horse lovers will be entertained by the Assateague Island wild horses as long as they are managed carefully.