Wild horses are common on Maryland’s Assateague Island. They wander the island, and everyone has become accustomed to seeing them. The horses can’t typically get away with sneaking up on the locals since they’re so well-known, but with visitors, it’s a different matter.
When David Whitney was sunbathing on a beach in Assateague National Park, he spotted a herd of horses approaching. He’d been to the island several times before and had seen the horses, but never had he seen them hanging out on the sand.
“After the lifeguards departed, we (along with most other people) witnessed a fairly sizable group (around five to six horses in size) of horses come onto the beach,” says one witness.
The horses appeared to be aware that they weren’t meant to be there and snuck over when the coast was clear. The majority of people appeared to understand that they should preserve their distance and appreciate them from afar. However, some people made the mistake of leaving their belongings unattended, and the gang took full advantage of the situation.
When the unruly herd of horses stumbled across a pile of items that wasn’t being guarded, they immediately began raiding it for food. It was too late by the time they realized their belongings were being taken. The horses were massive and ravenous, and they were not about to go empty-handed.
Everyone else stood by and watched as the horses dragged entire coolers down the beach — and couldn’t help but laugh at the adorable band of pickpocketing horse thieves.
“The horses probably hit more than a dozen different groups as they made their way down the beach,” Whitney said.
The horses on Assateague Island are generally docile, but if somebody makes the mistake of actively feeding them, they can become hostile and demand more food, which is why feeding them is prohibited. However, the horses do occasionally take matters into their own hands.
Whitney explained, “At first, we just thought the situation was lovely and humorous.” “The horses weren’t being very damaging; they were simply rummaging through people’s belongings.” However, as they proceeded down the beach, the horses got more pushy and violent, breaking open coolers… Nobody was wounded, so it was mostly amusing, but it served as a nice reminder that these horses are still wild.”
The wild ponies of Assateague Island are stunning, but they should always be seen from a distance. They’re wild creatures, after all, and the island is their home, which is why they’ve determined it’s perfectly legal for them to grab your belongings if you leave them unguarded on the beach. The horse is in charge.