Chincoteague Ponies just peachy

The Fire Chief of tiny Chincoteague, Virginia (population 4,347) may not be a horseman, but he had an idea that the Chincoteague ponies would take care of themselves if given the chance.

The manager of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge thought so, too.

So instead of containing them during Hurricane Sandy, the two departments (Together, they share responsibility and ownership of the herds.) let them have the run of the place.

“They had free range of the entire refuge,” said manager Lou Hinds.

The hurricane did a ton of damage to Assateague and Chincoteague Islands, the thin slivers of sand that are as vulnerable as the Outer Banks when it comes to big storms.

But the horses appear to have weathered it just fine.

“Sometimes it’s better,” said Chief Harry Thornton, “To turn ‘em and let them ‘em do what they know to do best… They knew something was up. When we open those gates, they know it’s time to head to higher ground.”

He said the ponies usually head to an area known as White Hills on Assateague Island, a sandy knoll that surrounds the historic lighthouse and rises 20 to 25 feet above sea level, according to the Washington Post.

This Post photo shows them checking out the carnival grounds immediately following the storm. Watch video here.

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  1. Thank you for following up on this. Time and time again the ponies there have taken care of themselves if given enough room to make a CHOICE on where they should get out of the storm.
    This is the same as high wind events elsewhere – if you have the space and pasture, give the horses a choice of where to weather the storm. If you have minimal space, then lock them in a barn. That should be your LAST choice.
    Thanks for a great article.

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