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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Berlin in Worcester County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Wild Ponies

 
 
The Wild Ponies Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, June 14, 2008
1. The Wild Ponies Marker
This marker is duplicated on the nearby walking/biking span of the Verrazano Bridge.
Inscription. Hardy, compact, and spirited - the horses on Assateague Island run freely over a range bounded by ocean and bay. Bands of mares and young led by protective stallions graze on marsh grasses, drink at freshwater ponds, and retreat into island forests for shelter.

With luck, you will see ponies during your visit. Please watch from a distance. Wild ponies kick and bite, even though they may look tame. Feeding them is dangerous and unlawful.

Two Herds
The ponies usually live in small groups or "bands." Bands living on the northern section of the island belong to the Maryland herd. The National Park Service maintains these horses in their wild state with minimal human interference.

The larger Virginia herd - the Chincoteague Ponies - graze under permit on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. A fence at the state boundary keeps the herds separated.

Shipwreck Survivors?
How did the ponies arrive at Assateague? Some may have been shipwrecked here long ago as legend contends, but no documented evidence has yet been found.

Research does show that English planters pastured horses and other kinds of livestock on barrier islands here in the 1600s to avoid the expenses of fencing and taxes. Perhaps some of today's ponies have descended from these pioneers.

The Roundup
Every
Grazing Pony Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, June 14, 2008
2. Grazing Pony
year on the last Wednesday and Thursday in July, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company (owner and manager of the Virginia herd) sponsors its festive roundup. Horseback riders gather the ponies and drive them across the channel to the Chincoteague carnival ground where some are sold at auction. The rest are returned to the island.
 
Location. 38° 14.965′ N, 75° 9.351′ W. Marker is near Berlin, Maryland, in Worcester County. Marker is at the intersection of National Seashore Lane and Stephen Decatur Highway (Maryland Highway 611), on the right when traveling north on National Seashore Lane. Click for map. Marker is located next to the visitors center for the Assateague Island National Seashore. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7206 National Seashore Lane, Berlin MD 21811, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Treasures from the Past (here, next to this marker); Beach to Bay Indian Trail (a few steps from this marker); Caring for the Bay (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sheltered Waters (about 700 feet away); You're looking out over... A Productive Nursery (about 700 feet away); Verrazano Bridge
Another Pony Enjoys a Sip of Water Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, June 14, 2008
3. Another Pony Enjoys a Sip of Water
(approx. mile away); Stephen Tyng Mather (approx. mile away); Rackliffe Plantation Milk House (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Berlin.
 
More about this marker. Illustrations on the marker include a kicking pony, ponies swimming during the roundup, and ponies swimming ashore from a shipwreck. A map in the lower center indicates how the state boundary splits the island.
 
Also see . . .  Assateague's Wild Ponies. National Park Service page discussing the ponies. (Submitted on June 15, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. Animals
 
Colorful Pony Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, June 14, 2008
4. Colorful Pony
The ponies are generally sorrel or brown, with a few of mixed color.
Curious Pony Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, June 14, 2008
5. Curious Pony
The ponies are naturally curious and will interact with people given the chance. But being wild, the animals will react differently than more familiar domesticated horses.
Ponies in the Parking Lot Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, June 14, 2008
6. Ponies in the Parking Lot
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,975 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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