Assateague Welcomes Pinto Colt

Assateague Welcomes Pinto Colt
Giggles and her pinto colt are pictured last Friday. Photo courtesy of Assateague Island National Seashore

ASSATEAGUE — The circle of life was on full display at Assateague Island as a new foal was birthed early Friday morning two days after a wild horse had to be humanely euthanized on Wednesday.

Early Friday morning, the mare Giggles gave birth to a pinto colt. Giggles and her band live most of the year in the busy developed area around the campgrounds. The new foal is known for now a N9BM-JQ.

Decades ago, the National Park Service began assigning alpha-numeric names to the wild horses on Assateague as a means to track their lineage and keep track of their movements around the island. The new foal will likely be given a proper name late this year following one of the Assateague Island Alliance’s naming rights auctions.

The new foal’s birth came just two days after a two-year-old stallion known as Adriana’s Yankee Prince had to be humanely euthanized after being struck by a vehicle along the Route 611 causeway near the entrance to the park on Aug. 6.

Adriana’s Yankee Prince had a swollen left hind leg following the collision, but was placing full weight on it and foraging. The horse was being monitored by National Park Service and was expected to make a recovery. However, the horse was reported down in the saltmarsh on Wednesday and was unable to stand.

The demise of Adriana’s Yankee Prince briefly dropped the population of wild horses on Assateague to 79. However, with the birth of the new foal on Friday morning, the population is right back in the ideal threshold of 80-100. The National Park Service monitors and somewhat controls the population of wild horses on the Maryland side of Assateague with an innovative contraceptive program.

When the mares on the island were tested last fall, Giggles was the only one who tested positive for pregnancy, meaning Friday’s new addition will likely be the only new foal birthed this year on the barrier island. However, the testing is not failsafe and there could be a surprise addition later this year, which has happened in the past.

Despite the temptation to visit and take pictures of the new foal, National Park Service officials are reminding residents and visitors everything is new to foal and are reminded to keep a safe distance from Giggles and her offspring. As a rule of thumb, a safe distance is defined as around 40 feet, or roughly the length of a school bus.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.