Assateague Island is a long barrier island lying off the coast of Maryland and Virginia. It is famous for two herds of ponies, descendants of horses from a Spanish galleon that sank offshore in the 1600’s. Living off the meager resources of the island, the horses gradually shrank in size and came to be known as Assateague ponies. Half of them lives in the southern part of the island, an area called Chincoteague. The other half roams the northern part of the island where Assateague Island National Seashore is located. The two herds are kept separate from each other and are raised by two different organizations.
Six years ago I went to Chincoteague and had a hard time finding the ponies, only seeing a few from a great distance. This past Saturday I went to the northern part of the island and was immediately rewarded with the sight of six ponies munching on very short grass near the entrance to the park.
Signs everywhere warned visitors not to pet or feed the ponies, or even to come within 10 ft of them. However, those I saw were very peaceful and completely ignored the tourists, young and old, who surrounded them and took their photos.