Saturday, February 18, 2012

beach ponies

Ocean City as seen from across the inlet

The barrier island which is home to Ocean City, Maryland was cut in two by a hurricane in 1930. On the north side of the inlet created by the hurricane is the commercial Ocean City boardwalk and beach, vacation destination to hundreds of thousands every summer.

On the southern side of the inlet is Assateague Island, 37 miles of pristine beach and dunes, marshes and bay, home of Assateague State Park and Assateague National Seashore (part of the National Park Service), and the wild ponies.

The wild ponies have lived here since the 1600s, possibly from a Spanish galleon ship that sank offshore carrying a load of horses. There are two herds of ponies, each about 160 strong, separated at the Maryland/Virginia border.

The herds are managed to prevent overcrowding and depletion of resources by different methods. "In Maryland, some female horses annually undergo a contraceptive vaccine administered through a dart gun."

On the Virginia end of the island the Annual Pony Swim has been going on since 1924, "Approx. 150 wild horses are rounded up on Assateague the last Wednesday in July. The horses swim across the Assateague Channel to Chincoteague Island where an auction takes place to reduce their numbers."

We visited the island on Friday afternoon, it was pretty much deserted, very nice, but we saw the sign at the bridge going over about possible traffic delays for up to 3 miles in the summer.

more on the Assateague ponies HERE


Everything Changes said...

Cute little guys!

The Calico Cat said...

Dammit - I haven't seen the ponies yet!