The Wild Ponies of Little Horse Island

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Little Horse Island occupies a small portion of St. Helena Island just outside Beaufort, South Carolina. Just as its name implies, the island is home to a small population of wild ponies, said to be descendants of Marsh Tacky horses and Shetland Ponies. Last year there were 19 in the herd; now there are eight remaining wild. More than half were taken off the island and adopted by private owners to try to save the ponies.

“…The herd had gotten too large and had depleted its supply of marsh grass and other food sources. The ponies were often seen in the nearby neighborhood searching for food… One of the herd’s oldest, a pregnant mare, was hit by a car and died,” The Island Packet reports.

Venaye McGlashan, a resident of the island as well as a retired veterinarian, determined that action must be taken to protect the ponies. According to The Island Packet, McGlashan, along with others, “gelded the stallions, tended to the ponies’ medical needs and adopted out all of the ones that had learned to escape their natural habitat and could teach the others to do the same.” McGlashan feeds the remaining ponies daily. While the ponies have adapted to the marsh grasses and now need them, a flood has wiped out most of it. Residents of the island have donated food and McGlashan provides hay daily. She hopes that this activity will give the marsh grasses time to grow back.

There are also hopes for a sanctuary, offering a long-term solution for the remaining ponies.

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