OMG, this is magnificent!!!
DD sent it to me--THANK YOU, Dyslexic Dodger!
This makes my heart jump out of my chest and tears come to my eyes.
Look at that suspension! The mane flying behind like a standard! So lovely!
Ponies live on the barrier island of Assateague in Maryland and Virginia. It’s thought that their decedents were either from animals that swam to the islands from a shipwrecked Spanish ship in the 1600s or from animals turned out in the 1700s. Life on the island is hard, and the ponies have adapted to eating beach and marsh grasses. The ponies on the Virginian side are owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department. Those on the Maryland side are owned by the Maryland Park Service. Each year the ponies in Virginia are swum across the channel; the foals are auctioned and the mares and stallions returned.
The island environment shaped the Chincoteague Pony. They have strong hooves, thick manes and tales, and light fetlock feathering. They are seen in all colors, but most common is a very colorful pinto; strawberry roan on white and palomino on white create some of the brighter patterns. They stand from 12 to 14.2 hands high.
In March, 2002 my husband & I took a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. One day we took a bus tour of the lighthouses and on the tour we stopped at the sanctuary on I think Okracoke where there is a herd of wild ponies. We weren't able to get close as they had built a boardwalk about 200 ft from the herd, but while they were being left hay, they looked kind of scruffy and ill kept. Maybe that's to preserve their nature. I felt a bit sad for them as they didn't look that happy or maybe I'm projecting my feelings on them.
I guess it depends on the herd and how they are maintained. I have a home in a beach town not too far from Assateague and I used to visit the ponies frequently. They always seemed to be well fed and happy/content. Scruffiness, at times, definitely comes with living free, and, unfortunately, the occasional accident. But, in the case of these ponies at least, they are monitored and vetted and generally do pretty well.
As a kid, I hated the idea of the yearly swim across the channel of the herd on the Virginia side of the island, but I realized that it was a good way to limit the population in a positive way. A number of foals are sold as well as horses that are deemed to need more care, thus keeping the population strong and under the carrying capacity of the land. Before the ponies are swum back to Assateague, they are all checked over thoroughly. The yearly handling and stay on Chincoteague also ensures that the ponies aren't too "wild" to be handled in an emergency.
The herd in NC might be a different matter altogether.
Here are two more photos:
Noriker Horses are sure footed, often leopard-spotted gentle giants with a good sense of balance. In Roman times they carried salt, gold, and Celtic iron over the Alps from Austria to Italy and on the return trip, Italian wine and spices.
The Noriker breed now constitutes one of the largest draught horse populations in Europe.
American Bashkir Curlies come in all sizes, colors, and body types but all carry a gene for a unique curly coat of hair. The origins of the Curly horse is highly debated in the Curly community, but research is mostly still in progress. Disagreements of the Curly horse's history result in confusion of what the breed is, and what it should be called. ABCR members prefer "Bashkir Curly" while CSI and ICHO members lean towards "North American Curly". The addition or removal of 'Bashkir' to the breed name is highly debated. A 1990 study indicated that it is unlikely that the Bashkir horse, which also has a curly coat, is an ancestor.
The Curly has a characteristic long stride and bold movement. They have tough hooves, strong bones and exceptional endurance. Most Curlies stand between 14 and 16 hands, though they can range from Miniature horses to Draft horses (Only allowed in two registries).
The Curlies are known for their calm, intelligent and friendly personality. They show an easily trainable temperament. They are also known for having a tough constitution and great stamina. Most people have found that the curlies enjoy being around people. The curlies are typically not flighty. They tend to do more reasoning than most breeds. They are very reliable and have a great work ethic.