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Online Jigsaw Puzzle of Wild Horses Feeding on Grass at Assateague Island


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Enjoy solving this online jigsaw puzzle depicting a pair of wild horses feeding on grass at Assateague Island on the Eastern Coast of the states of Maryland and Virginia in the USA.  These beautiful animals are known as Chincoteague Ponies, or Assateague horses depending on what part of the island they live on.

According to legend, the ponies on the island, including those pictured in our online jigsaw puzzle, all descend from Spanish horses, which saved themselves by swimming from a shipwreck just off the American east coast. Another story says that early settlers from the mainland or neighboring islands set their horses free on Assateague in order to avoid paying taxes.

In the 1920s the effects of in-breeding became noticed including leg and bone problems. However, the harsh conditions on the island ensured that only the host hardy and fit animals were able to survive. Over the course of generations the horses became smaller and accordingly tougher under the hard living conditions. In order to revitalize the genetic pool, Welsh Ponies, Shetland ponies and Pintos were cross-bred with the Assateague horses.

Today, because of the fact that the southern part of Assateague Island belongs to Virginia and the northern part belongs to Maryland, the horses are divided into two herds, The herds are separated by a wire fence which divides the island into two parts. The horses of the Virginia herd are the ones which are officially known as Chincoteague Ponies, and belong to the volunteer fire-brigade of Chincoteague. The horses of the Maryland herd belong to the National Park service. Both herds are limited to approximately 150 adult animals.

Each year the surplus Chincoteague horses are driven, with the assistance of boats, to swim across to the neighboring island, Chincoteague, where many of the young foals are then auctioned. The Assateague Pony is an intelligent animal whose friendly nature, when domesticated, is well suited to children.  The profit from the auctions is used for the volunteer fire-brigade in Chincoteague as well as toward the preservation of this beautiful race of horses. Those horses who are not auctioned off will naturally swim back to their own island home on their own accord.

At the south end of Assateague Iceland on the Virginian Eastern shore is the Assateague Lighthouse. Dating back to the 1830s the 43 metre high lighthouse is registered in the National Register of Historic Places.  Vehicle access bridges cross over to the island from both Maryland and Virginia, although there is no route that covers the entire length of the island.

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Thanks to Ben Stephenson for the use of the picture of these beautiful wild Assateague horses feeding on the grass.

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