On Assateague Island in Maryland, wild horses are the norm. They roam around the island, and everyone there is pretty used to them by now. Since they’re so well known, the horses usually can’t get away with sneaking up on the locals — but with the tourists, it’s a whole other story.
David Whitney was relaxing on a beach in Assateague National Park when he noticed a group of horses arrive at the beach. He’d been to the island many times before and seen the horses, of course, but he’d never seen them hanging out in the sand before.
“We (along with most other people) noticed a fairly large group (about five to six in size) of horses go onto the beach after the lifeguards left,” Whitney told The Dodo.
It seemed the horses knew they weren’t supposed to be there and waited until the coast was clear before sneaking over. Most people seemed to know to keep their distance and just admire them from afar. Some people made the mistake of leaving their stuff unattended, though — and the group absolutely seized that opportunity.
Whenever the rowdy group of horses came across a pile of stuff that wasn’t being guarded, they quickly began ransacking everything, looking for snacks. By the time people would notice their stuff was being stolen, it was too late. The horses were huge and hungry and refused to walk away 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.
Generally, the horses on Assateague Island are pretty tame, but if anyone makes the mistake of actively feeding them, they can then get a little aggressive asking for more food, which is why feeding them is against the rules. But of course, sometimes the horses take matters into their own hands.
“At first we just thought the situation was cute and funny,” Whitney said. “The horses weren’t being very destructive and were just going through people’s stuff. However, as they went down the beach, they became more forceful and aggressive, with the horses busting open coolers … Nobody got hurt, so things remained largely entertaining, but it was a good reminder to people that these horses are still wild.”
The wild horses on Assateague Island are absolutely beautiful, but should definitely always be admired from afar. They’re wild animals, after all, and the island is their home — which is why if you leave your stuff unattended on the beach, they’ve decided that they’re absolutely within their rights to take it. Horse rules.