BERLIN – How about an Assateague Island horse under the tree?
Well, not exactly a real horse, but something maybe even better: give the gift of a wild and free Assateague Island Foster Horse membership.
The exciting news for 2007 on Assateague Island was the birth of JoJo, a sorrel filly, and JoJo’s addition to the Foster Horse Program.
“JoJo is a beautiful foal, and we are using a great photo of her and her mother, Sonya, taken on the beach at Assateague,” said program manager Pat Pilling.
When you become a foster parent, or give the gift of foster parentage, you begin by choosing the horse or horses that capture your fancy from the 72 horses in the program. You may do so by visiting the Assateague Island National Seashore Visitors’ Center (open 7 days a week from 9 to 5), by calling Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) at 410-629-1538 or by visiting the program website at www.assateaguewildhorses.org.
You or your lucky friend or family member will receive a package that includes a deluxe padded folder with the program logo in gold gilt, enclosing an 8×10 color photo of the horse, the horse’s biography, a certificate declaring the bearer to be an official foster parent of, perhaps, JoJo or April Star, and a copy of the current program newsletter Horsin’ Around. The cost is $25 if purchased at the Park or at the ACT office, plus $6 shipping for any orders that go out in the mail.
The Assateague Island National Seashore Foster Horse Program both provides financial support for the Maryland herd and its barrier island habitat as well as an opportunity for horse and island lovers to have a direct connection to the horses.
“The program is a great vehicle for educating folks about this unique wild herd,” said Pilling.
Foster families will receive the next issue of the newsletter, which includes news about the horses, the island and the foster families, in the mail. Those who wish to continue supporting the horses may do so by renewing their membership after one year, entitling them to a renewal gift and continuing newsletters.
“This has been a great year for the Foster Horse Program,” said Jim Rapp, ACT President. “Our volunteer staff increased, enabling us to keep our foster families more updated on their horses than in the past. As a result, we’re proud that the financial contributions made to the Assateague Island National Seashore by the program will be greater than ever.”
Visitors to the website will find a selection of T-shirts, plush horses, books, note cards and horse kites. Local artist Lynne Lockhart has contributed a beautiful horse image, from one of her popular paintings, that has been reproduced as a high quality art poster.
“The most important purpose of the Foster Horse Program,” Pilling said, “is that it helps us explain that the Maryland herd is indeed wild and free. The herd that lives on the Virginia end of the island belongs to the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department, and is the herd from which the ‘Saltwater Cowboys’ choose horses for the popular July auction. Our horses in Maryland live the lives of wild animals.”