Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Assateague Island's Wild Horses!

When I picked out a sea-side location to visit with my daughter, wild horses were the furthest thing from my mind.  Google "camping" and "Ocean City" and the first places that come up are a Maryland State Park and National Seashore on Assateague Island.  Hey, I didn't know anything about them, but I was ALL IN!

Wild horses grace the info about Assateague and Chincoteague Islands, what could be cooler than that?
Bird-girl that I am, I was hoping for a couple Sanderlings and maybe a migrant Willet or Godwit.  I had no clue wild horses were even an option, until we checked into the campsite.  There were warnings with horrifying photos posted on the wall: HORSES BITE!

Well then.  Maybe seeing them would be cool, maybe not.  They are much bigger than a bird!

 The visitor center at Assateague Island is excellent, and a highly recommend stop.  Too bad we got there after hours!

The waves were crashing upon the shore.

Horses were here!
We took a quick walk on the beach enjoying the sound of waves, crabs scampering about and the tell-tale signs of wild horses. Yes, they had been here; what was our odds of seeing them?  We set up camp before we walked the beach and as we were returning to our campsite, we heard a distinctive, whinney.  
That wasn't a screech owl!

We raced backed to the campsite in time to see a lone horse grazing next to our bicycles and nudging the Rubbermaid containers I left on the picnic table.  Alas, there was no food in them, but the paper goods, extra tent stakes and silverware must have been of some interest to this wildlife.  He chased me a couple laps around the picnic table, hoping for hand-outs, but found us inhospitable.  

Next, he reached into our car truck and removed the trash bag.  After shaking out a few peach skins, he decided we were hopeless campers, and headed for the open door of the car.
 Now, what's in there?

My daughter call out for me to get in the car and close the doors, and then proceeded to shame the wild stallion into retreat.  "Git, git you! Get out of here."  She scared me, and the horse.  He disappeared into the darkness.

We laid awake most of the night listening to the crashing waves, watching the stars sparkle in a blue-black sky, and wondering if we would be trampled to death under a herd of hooves!  It may have been the longest, most exhilarating life of my life.

Morning found our little camp in tact, and all was right with the world.


As we broke camp, a herd of 8 or 10 wild horses moseyed around the nearby Nature Center and nibbled grass along the campground roadway.  Assateague's horses are likely a feral remnant of horses that were left to graze on the island.  A book call Misty of Chincoteague, tells the story of the Chinoteague horses and the annual round up by the locals.  It might be fun to read!

So once again, I leave you with the herd we witnessed first hand. 

Assateague and Chicoteague Islands were excellent travel locations, filled with nature, history and exciting finds.

I hope you'll  consider a visit, to perhaps- the longest night of your life!

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