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.
“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.