About Assateague Pony and the Assateague Wild Horses

Tell me about the Assateague Wild Horses.

Assateague Pony – the Assateague Wild Horses – is a new project of Bill Swartwout Photography. Bill created AssateaguePony.com to supplement his online Gallery, AssateagueWildHorses .com, with articles and additional pictures.

Assateague Pony Mieke's Noe'lani.The Wild Horses of Assateague Island are loved by nearly everyone who sees them and Bill is no exception. The horses are often elusive and many people visit the park without ever seeing them – not one. This will be a chance to see the ponies that Bill has been able to find and photograph.

What this website is not: We are not connected to the Assateague State Park, the Assateague Island National Seashore or the Assateague Island Alliance.  We have no official relationship with any of the local organizations. Bill is a local landscape and nature photographer simply “plying his trade.” We have, however, contributed a small amount to the AIA by “Adopting a Pony” and participating in the Assateague Foster Horse Program. The Foster Horse program helps to raise funds for the AIA and to help support the goals of the AINS.

Why Assateague Pony and not Assateague Wild Horse?

If local fauna are really Wild Horses, why is the name of this website Assateague Pony? It seems that more people refer to the horses with the term Pony or Assateague Ponies. Hopefully, the site name will make it a bit easier to find (in the search engines) and we can help to correct the misnomer/misconception. Here is a brief article about the Assateague ponies really being wild horses.

Assateague Wild Horses"OK, tell me all about it - just whisper in my ear."

Assateague Pony Population On Target, Wild, Healthy

The Assateague Wild Horse Population Is Within Goals.

The National Park Service recently announced the completion of a March, 2018 census of the Assateague pony population, actually the Assateague Island Horse Census. There are currently 82 horses in the census, which meets the “best practices” goal of maintaining between 80 and 100 horses living on the Maryland portion of Assateague Island.Assateague Pony on the Marsh

The Assateague Pony herd in Maryland currently consists of 61 mares and 21 stallions. Those numbers include the foals (youngsters) which have not yet officially reached the age of being classed as a mare or a stallion, but is indicative of the female to male ratio.

From a National Park Service publication: “It is important to limit the number of wild horses on Assateague. Left to themselves, the horses will quickly destroy the barrier island environment that sustains them.

The National Park Service (NPS) wanted a safe, effective way to control overpopulation. Researchers working in conjunction with the NPS developed a non-hormonal, non-invasive vaccine to prevent pregnancy. This vaccine is delivered by a dart to the hindquarters of selected mares each spring.

To keep the gene pool as large as possible each mare is allowed to have one offspring. This vaccine has successfully lowered the birth rate of Maryland’s horses to only a few foals per year – enough to ensure a sustainable population.”

Below is the narrative from the NPS website for Assateague Island National Seashore concerning the Assateague Pony Population:

Assateague Island Horse Census Results

News Release Date: April 4, 2018

Berlin, MD – The National Park Service has completed its March 2018 population census of the wild horses on Assateague Island. The total population of the Maryland herd is currently at 82 horses, which is well within the ideal population range. The herd currently includes 21 stallions and 61 mares, and at least one mare is known to be pregnant at this time. There have been a total of 6 horse deaths documented in 2018 so far, including 5 mares (T3L, N6EL, M17GM “Dee’s Heart”, X15P, T5AFP “AR Arianna” and 1 stallion (N6BMS “Llama Boy”) . All those lost were mature, aged individuals having lived out their full lives within the national seashore.

The National Park Service completes a full census of the horse population in Maryland six times per year, in February, March, May, July, September, and November. Managed as a wildlife population, the Assateague horses are free to roam over approximately 27 miles of the barrier island and can be difficult to find at times. During each census, horses are identified by their distinguishing characteristics, mapped and counted. Individual horses that are not observed during multiple census periods are presumed dead. The purpose of the census is to monitor the population dynamics of the horse herd in support of the long term fertility control program that was initiated in 1994.

As a side note…

If you would like to “Adopt” an Assatague Pony read this: Assateague Foster Horse Program. It is a cool way to help maintain the Assateague Pony Herd (because it is mostly a donation to the Assateague Island Alliance.

For Prints and decor items featuring an Assateague Pony, or Ponies…

visit: www.AssateagueWildHorses.com

The Assateague Ponies by Ronald D. Keiper

My Assateague Pony book arrived today.

That puts me in Happy Camper mode. I had ordered a copy of The Assateague Ponies by Ronald R. Keiper because a person “in the know” suggested it would help me understand the unique identification system used at Assateague Island National Seashore to identify the wild horses.

The book has much more information than just about the ID system in use at the National Park. I am still in “learning mode” concerning the Wild Horses of Assateague Island and believe that learning more about these beautiful animals will help improve my photographs of them.

I will provide a short “review” of the text after I finish reading it…

…meanwhile, browse Pony Photographs at http://www.assateaguewildhorses.com.

Do the Assateague Wild Horses Sleep Standing Up?

They sleep both standing up and lying down.

Why do they do that? What do you think?

Sleepiny Eyed Horse Sarah's SweetTea

Answers/reasons coming soon – but, first, you give it some thought. Feel free to leave a comment below about your thoughts.

Meanwhile, browse Pony Photographs at http://www.assateaguewildhorses.com.