29 September 2009

The photo at the top

I had gotten some questions about the photo at the top.

These are Assateague ponies, from a photo I took on vacation. They're in another campsite, eating breakfast the day after the storm.

They're very fascinating animals. No one is really sure how they got there. Either from a shipwrecked Spanish galleon, or colonial settlers fighting the man by turning their livestock out to graze, tax-free on the barrier island. There's a story that Grampa Beebe of the Misty of Chincoteague caused a lot of the pintos to be born by turning a Shetland pony out on the island in the earlier part of the 20th century. I don't know what to believe. But they're perfectly designed for island life, compact and hardy, independant and free-spirited. That gnarly brush they're up against? They fit in that. We could hear them, fussing and calling to each other that first morning. It's kind of eerie to hear disembodied whinnies in the dawn.

You'll notice I said "Assateague ponies." Most people are familiar with them through the Misty of Chincoteague stories, by Marguerite Henry. The wild ponies that run on the Virginia side of the fence straddling the state line (because Marylanders and Virginians have to be kept separate, I guess) are called Chincoteague ponies. They are owned by the Chincoteague volunteer fire department. The ones north of the fence are owned by the state of Maryland and are Assateague ponies. I've been told the fence does not go the whole way down to the water. Therefore the ponies cross back and forth. These may have been Chincoteague ponies the day before this photo. Phooey on the state!

Probably the most beautiful book I've ever seen about the wild ponies (other than the Marguerite Henry books, and Wesley Dennis' illustrations are beautiful) is called Wild Ponies of the Dunes. We keep that book on our coffee table. It seems to be more about the Chincoteague ponies, but really, it's about the wild ponies of Assateague Island. I recommend it, although it makes me long to be back there.


Daffycat said...

I lived in Virgina for two years and never thought to go see them.


Carol said...

Interesting background story on the ponies, Rachel--they sure are handsome!

Sew Wilde said...

Thanks for the little bit of history about the ponies. I love the Misty books.


Pumpkin said...

It must have been so incredible to see them. My dream is to see them one day :o)

I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped--Frederick Perls