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Always been speculation about how the ponies got there.  Just read an article that links Spanish horse DNA from a 1500s site on Hispaniola to the current ponies.  Did they bring them on purpose or did the ship run aground and swam to shore?      And on the way home I heard they hired extra people and got more ATVs to help keep the horses away from the crowds.  Not sure what to think about that.  Thoughts?  @allen sklar

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I always heard it was a shipwreck..Horses adapted to drinking salt water and living off the local brush. Over the years they became smaller in hight. There bellies look bloated from drinking salt water , but horses are healty. They do have rangers to heard the horses away from the parking lots. They will come right up to your truck, but just roll the window up till theu leave. When surf fishing , I have had them come close, but if you ignor them they leave. Just don't interact with them. Tight lines.

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There are many spring fed ponds on AI. with quality fresh water. The horses don’t drink salt water, maybe a little brackish at times after a wash over. They know where to drink. 
From what I heard, horses were put there by mainland plantation/farm owners for free grazing and tax avoidance. 
As far as a shipwreck, it’s possible also. 

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I was told on Md side the horses, not ponies, came from a guy who owned them and kept them at state park.  Was gonna get sued by Md due to horses causing trouble, so nps agreed to take them (for advertising purposes to draw visitors to assateague).  Allen knows the details.  No idea about Va. horses.  I  

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I also thought it was a shipwreck that put them there. I love seeing the ponies on the drive to the OSV. They always seem to do something funny. One time I had to stop because of a pony on the road and one came over right next to the car and just started peeing. It was so freaking funny at the time. I just burst out laughing. Then I saw a foal get kicked in the head by its mother while it was feeding. That was kind of sad though. It was fine. Never had one come up to me on the beach.

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Not so funny when about 6 horses are running down the beach at the water line towards your set-up! You better RUN and divert them. 
Happened to a friend - rods, line, and sand spikes thrown all over, luckily none got hooked.   

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1 hour ago, Catskill John said:

Not so funny when about 6 horses are running down the beach at the water line towards your set-up! You better RUN and divert them. 
Happened to a friend - rods, line, and sand spikes thrown all over, luckily none got hooked.   

Same happen to me.  Got it on video too. Horses in full run down water line, dog starts barking, I turn arond to see 6 or 7 horses coming at us.  They stopped when they got real close, a few went in front and some behind us and they kept going south.  15-30 min later, they came north past us again.  This time the alpha came walking right at me and my suburban, right straight at me.  He was letting me know he was in charge, no mistake about that.  Came so close I had to get between truck and cargo carrier in back.  He was 10 feet away just looking at me for long enough to get the point across.  A mean horse.  It was pretty intense.  What a memory though.

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Sometimes in the February those males of pony do not look very pony. They are fighting as lions with splash of blood around. Did you notice the scars all over them

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7 hours ago, Catskill John said:

Not so funny when about 6 horses are running down the beach at the water line towards your set-up! You better RUN and divert them. 
Happened to a friend - rods, line, and sand spikes thrown all over, luckily none got hooked.   

That doesn’t sound good. Just to clarify... what do you mean by run? Run towards them to scare them into moving? Or run away to get them to follow you?

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5 hours ago, ProSkateFisherman said:

That doesn’t sound good. Just to clarify... what do you mean by run? Run towards them to scare them into moving? Or run away to get them to follow you?

They won’t follow you! The horses out on the sand, south of NPS campground area are a bit more wild than campground horses, they would rather avoid close human contact SO RUN TOWARDS THEM !!!

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9 hours ago, Catskill John said:

They won’t follow you! The horses out on the sand, south of NPS campground area are a bit more wild than campground horses, they would rather avoid close human contact SO RUN TOWARDS THEM !!!

....well that may work sometimes, but in my 20 years of hiking the backside of assateague, experience has me leaning the other way.  On 2 occasions I have actually feared for my life.....there are some mean horses on the island and some youngsters that have a real bad attitude....... my advise..... let them do what they want and stay close to cover. I have had a horse follow me and charge me, so please be respectful of their weight, speed, and variable mental state. Dying by "horse hoof trauma" is most likely unpleasant.

 

As far as the history end of the post, D-man is correct the original herd ( Maryland side) of around ten horses, was a real problem for the state when it opened its park ( before Assateague Island Seashore)....the locally owned horses were unfenced,  and terrorized the park visitors. State park opened around 1956 so about ten years before the national seashore was in business. Eventually the horse ownership was transferred under legal pressure and became owned by the government. The horses had intercourse and now number about eighty or so. The horses on the Virginia side could very well have mixed blood but the article I read was less than convincing that shipwrecked horses populated the island.......there are storm exposed fences all over the island, mostly used for cattle but horses could also have been grazed there to avoid the taxes imposed on farmers as Worcester county became more populated. All of the above history is from my memory so is probably inaccurate. I am a story teller not an historian.

 

DSC_4417.jpg

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22 mins ago, allen sklar said:

....well that may work sometimes, but in my 20 years of hiking the backside of assateague, experience has me leaning the other way.  On 2 occasions I have actually feared for my life.....there are some mean horses on the island and some youngsters that have a real bad attitude....... my advise..... let them do what they want and stay close to cover. I have had a horse follow me and charge me, so please be respectful of their weight, speed, and variable mental state. Dying by "horse hoof trauma" is most likely unpleasant.

 

As far as the history end of the post, D-man is correct the original herd ( Maryland side) of around ten horses, was a real problem for the state when it opened its park ( before Assateague Island Seashore)....the locally owned horses were unfenced,  and terrorized the park visitors. State park opened around 1956 so about ten years before the national seashore was in business. Eventually the horse ownership was transferred under legal pressure and became owned by the government. The horses had intercourse and now number about eighty or so. The horses on the Virginia side could very well have mixed blood but the article I read was less than convincing that shipwrecked horses populated the island.......there are storm exposed fences all over the island, mostly used for cattle but horses could also have been grazed there to avoid the taxes imposed on farmers as Worcester county became more populated. All of the above history is from my memory so is probably inaccurate. I am a story teller not an historian.

 

DSC_4417.jpg

Amazing shot. You should write a book.   Please. 

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My wife and I were walking down the beach. A couple of hundred yards away, way down the beach, two horses started running toward us, at full gallop. Cool, a horse race...man, they are moving...moving right toward us....let's get away from the water edge honey.....maybe wrong move, let's get in the wash...oh, they want to splash too...where we went, they went...At the last second, I pushed my wife toward the wash, and I went the other way, as they passed between us, and continued on up the beach.

She still bitches that I tried to get her killed that day...yea, honey, but I failed, and we are stuck with each other.

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The shipwreck story was from a popular children's book, back in the day, based on legend. 

The hiding of livestock to avoid taxes is more plausible. 

As a kid, back in the 60s, all that was there was the state park.

It consisted of the large parking lot, and wooden bath house, and camp store.

We would park in the lot, and drag our tent, and gear to an open area, and that was that, pay the man in the trailer.

Late 60s, maybe early 70s, they opened up, and paved the road back to the National Seashore.

By the mid, to late 70s, the State park opened up the loops and bath houses.

The National Seashore just had ocean side camping, the Bayside wasn't until the 80s.

The horses used to raid campsites for food to the point it was senseless to keep anything out. They would destroy a screen room to get a dropped potato chip, or loaf of bread.

It was crazy for a while there, campers getting chased around, playing keep away from the horses with a pack of hot dog buns, I remember vividly.

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13 mins ago, dena said:

The shipwreck story was from a popular children's book, back in the day, based on legend. 

The hiding of livestock to avoid taxes is more plausible. 

As a kid, back in the 60s, all that was there was the state park.

It consisted of the large parking lot, and wooden bath house, and camp store.

We would park in the lot, and drag our tent, and gear to an open area, and that was that, pay the man in the trailer.

Late 60s, maybe early 70s, they opened up, and paved the road back to the National Seashore.

By the mid, to late 70s, the State park opened up the loops and bath houses.

The National Seashore just had ocean side camping, the Bayside wasn't until the 80s.

The horses used to raid campsites for food to the point it was senseless to keep anything out. They would destroy a screen room to get a dropped potato chip, or loaf of bread.

It was crazy for a while there, campers getting chased around, playing keep away from the horses with a pack of hot dog buns, I remember vividly.

I haven't been since early 80s but you are spot on about the begging horses.  At least back then.  Would even kick open coolers. 

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