Wild Ponies. These two simple words conjure up all kinds of thoughts that can run wild in our imaginations. Ponies running wild and free!
Assateague Island is the home of several hundred wild ponies. I had the opportunity to photograph them this past January. I was first in Chincoteague where I enjoy bird photograph. Oh a few mammals do appear from time to time, but the ponies are usually seen from a distance at Chincoteague. At Assateague, on the other hand, these ponies can come right up to you and literally be an arm-length away!
This particular pony warmed up to me right away and approached me. The rules forbid petting or feeding the ponies, but I will confess it was tempting! I refrained from physically befriending this cute little pony but then he followed me as I was walking down the path to photograph another pony. I guess you could say he tugged at my heartstrings!
These wild ponies display a variety of colors. This one is a paint–a reference to how it looks like God just used different colors of paint when creating these wonderful creatures! This pony was not as quite as bold as the first one, but it did warm up to me after a little time. Trust is not always easy for wild animals, which is why we photographers and wildlife viewers need to respect these animals and never give them a reason to distrust us. We have a big responsibility here and when we heed these high standards we not only get the opportunity to view or photograph these animals again, but we also allow future generations to do the same!
Interestingly, there are some small fresh water ponds on the island. They fill up with rainwater and provide drink for the ponies. They eat on the local grasses, which you can see hanging out of this pony’s mouth.
If you get a chance to visit Assateague, I highly recommend it. I know I will be going back again sometime soon myself. I just cannot get enough of these beautiful wild ponies!