While taking the Phelps Photo® tour from Gladstone, New Jersey and the USET Show Jumping Talent Search to Atlanta for the USDF Region 3 Dressage Finals, we took a detour to the beautiful island of Assateague on the southern coast of Maryland to spend the night camping among the wild ponies that inhabit the island.
Two herds of wild horses make their home on Assateague Island, separated by a fence at the Maryland-Virginia line, and they are often seen wandering the beaches, roadways, trails and campgrounds on the island. These small but sturdy, shaggy horses have adapted to their environment over the years by eating dune and marsh grasses and drinking fresh water from ponds.
According to romantic legend, the horses arrived on Assateague when a Spanish galleon with a cargo of wild mustangs sunk off the coast. The surviving animals swam to shore and are the ancestors of today's herds. Unfortunately, the horses (affectionately called ponies because of their slightly stunted size) have a more practical origin. Most likely they are descendants of herds turned loose by early settlers. Once a year in July the ponies are herded up and swim the narrow channel to Chincoteague for the annual auction and festival.
Order Misty of Chincoteague by Margeurite Henry
from Larimar Animal Books- A children's book classic - 1947 Maureen and Paul Beebe plan to buy the wild mare Phantom during the Pony Penning Days on Chincoteague Island, but get a surprise when they see that she has a little filly by her side.
The Ponies of Chincoteague