Camping on Assateague Island in Maryland was a beautiful experience. The wild horses that live there are managed in a way that they can remain as nature intended. They have adapted to eat the salty grasses along the seashore, which many times gives them a bloated appearance. However, they have also figured out that the campground areas are also places to pick up a snack or two, and if they see you with your car doors open, they will indeed help themselves to whatever they can find inside! That being said, they are still wild. The only human intervention is with breeding. I found it amazing that they use birth control darts to manage the herd size, thus protecting resources while also keeping their distance. Every female is allowed to produce once in her life in her prime years. This is contrary to the popular Chincoteague Island herd, which holds an auction each year to minimize numbers. By only having one foal, the mares are less stressed than they would be if they were to foal every year, as you can probably imagine. It takes quite a bit of energy and reserves to raise young, and this is a distinction that is easily seen between the mares of the two herds.
campground hunters, doing their rounds
Seeing the sunset on the pacific side is something we’ve been blessed to experience often, so getting to see the sun rise up from the Atlantic together was a real treat. The fact that we were surrounded by a herd of “wild” island horses made it even more magical. It’s a reminder to be awestruck by the simple things...somehow breathing in a sunrise and sunset never gets old.