By Linda Cicoira
Three foals from the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company’s famous herd of wild ponies died this year, according to a recent Facebook report made by the company.
“Over the course of every foal season we are fortunate that so many are born safely and successfully in the wild,” the announcement stated. “No vet, no supervision, and no barn. Just as they have done for hundreds of years.”
“Although, the fire company is lucky to have anywhere from 50 to 80 foals, there are always some that don’t make it to Pony Penning,” which includes the roundup, swim, and auction.
Foal 11, named Flower; foal 27, called Seaside Miracle; and foal 45, known as Magic; passed on and will not be included in the auction lineup, the post stated.
“We thank you for your support and ask that people recognize that this is an unfortunate yet normal occurrence and even with veterinary care and a domestic setting, ponies/horses can have many complications, just as humans do.”
According to the statement, “there are so many factors in Mother Nature that can lead to a foal not surviving.” Those include infections, herd dynamics, breeding, or unexpected separation.
“In recent history we have been successful in saving many foals and adults alike because there are so many people that see them daily who can alert us if there is a problem before it becomes life threatening,” the company reported.
According to the USDA, foal mortality is 5.8 percent within the first month of life for normal domestic horses.
Upon reading the report there was an outpouring of response from herd followers.
“Thank you for your updates, as hard as they may be to post,” wrote Debra Evalds of Lewes, Delaware. “The survival rate you have for wild pony foals is incredible, but nature does what nature does. I so appreciate how you share this information. Run free wee angels.”
Melissa Sears, of Indiana, wrote: “So sorry for the loss, but these are wild horses and this isn’t a zoo. We must treasure and respect nature’s ways. Sometimes interceding isn’t enough and sometimes it’s too much. You guys are fabulous! We know you make the best decisions that you know how.”
“This is heartbreaking to hear, and must be difficult for you to post, but we so appreciate the information that provides closure for all of us who love and follow these ponies,” wrote Karin Musselman, of Pennsylvania.Thank you so much for all you do for the ponies and for all of us as well!”
Sue Johnstonbaugh, another pony follower, wrote: “Thank you for letting us know. Prayers for the herd, the fire department and all involved with highs and lows of the ponies.”