Getting Your Assateague Kicked: Tourist Receives Fast Response After Ignoring Signs Not To Pet Wild Horses

One of my favorite hiking areas has been Assateague Island in Maryland. It is home to wild horses that locals believe originated with a Spanish ship that sank close to shore hundreds of years ago. I used to backpack to remote parts of the beach, which has extensive signage telling people to not pet the wild horses. One man however decided that such rules did not apply to him and petted a horse that wandered over to the popular beach. What he received was a memorable response.

I am always astonished how some people simply ignore signs at national parks even when they are there to protect the animals or themselves.

For some it was just punishment for either petting a wild animal or wearing a speedo after the age of 18. Either way, this could have been much much worse given the power of these horses.

It will be interesting if the man now sues the park for failing to keep the horses off the beach or preventing sunbathing. The draw of the park is the horses and signage is all about with the warnings. This would seem a good case for assumption of the risk or comparative negligence. Nevertheless, the people ignoring these signs but both the horses and continued access to them at risk.

Even lifeguards at the park have fallen victim to horse kicks. Notably the guard never touches the horse but was trying to move him away from some tourists:

So people please obey the signs and leave these magnificent animals alone. This is their home and we are allowed to enjoy it. So don’t be a horse’s . . . well . . . just don’t pet the horses.

15 thoughts on “Getting Your Assateague Kicked: Tourist Receives Fast Response After Ignoring Signs Not To Pet Wild Horses”

  1. Sue for what? No matter where people go where there are wild animals signs are posted not to touch them, feed them, stay in your car, etc. Ignore the warnings it’s on the dummy who ignored them. I’ve been on the receiving end of the tip of a hoof of a stubborn horse who didn’t want to be put back into the pasture. Caught through a heavy coat & it left a bruise. I can’t imagine how this guy is feeling. But where were the lifeguards to keep the horses and people apart?

  2. I think we’ve become a nation of idiots with people believing they can do anything they want and if it doesn’t go their way, they can sue!!! Unfortunately they teach this to their children. We see recent incidences of when they have taken their children to the zoo and the animals are in an enclosure minding their own business when they parents are not observant and their children get away or they sit them precariously so they fall into the enclosure. Then the animal has to be put to death. This is atrocious and moronic behavior.

  3. People who go pet the bison in Yellowstone or the mustangs on Assoteague have lost all taught and instinctive self preservation. I’ll bet sunbathers in a wild horse preserve complain about manure in the sand, too.

    Lying down in front of mustangs is extremely unsafe. Even when handling a riding horse, you can squat down to get low, but your hand or knee should never touch the ground. Horses are prey animals and when they spook, they are incredibly fast and strong. Anyone lying down, dozing, is in danger of getting run over. Although, to be fair, the horses of Assoteague are habituated to people.

    Assoteague is the horses’ home. People should not encroach upon their space. Take pictures. Enjoy their beauty from afar, but leave them alone.

    People with no horse sense think they’re like Golden Retrievers. Stallions can be very dangerous to work around. I knew someone who ran forward to help a woman being attacked by an untrained stallion. He woke up in his truck two days later in another state, covered in blood. A stallion’s instinct is to fight other stallions to steal mares to breed, and to fight off those who would steal their band. Although these mustangs are very habituated to humans, and they’re small, they are still untamed, and some are stallions. A stallion could be telling a human clear as day not to bother his mare, but if that person doesn’t understand the warning, the horse might make it real clear.

    The horse in charge does not move his feet. He moves everyone else’s. When a man comes up to a stallion to get him to move, that stallion might object. They discuss pecking order with teeth and hoof and threat displays. Humans can’t hang with that. This is why horses are trained from foals to respect a human’s space and never kick or bite. You do not want a rank horse to treat you like a horse with the pecking order in play.

    That horse was just acting like a wild horse. Approaching from the rear was threatening. The horse showed great restraint. I know of a man whose bicep was detached by a stallion. The horse considered this a mere warning.

    1. Just to clarify, the Assoteague horse would have considered such a kick as a warning.

      The guy whose bicep got detached was in more of a fight.

    2. 9 year old girl was just tossed by a bison bull because she and her family hung out within 10 feet of the herd. People are so far removed from domestic livestock, let alone wildlife, that they have no idea how to behave properly around them. Minimum safe distance is 25 yards, which is still considered really, really close and with some risk.

      https://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/video-bison-charges-tosses–year-old-girl-in-yellowstone/article_19039000-abab-5b82-8c15-19b374a591ab.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share&fbclid=IwAR0rF096pKNcg779LOTqHuNFrDZVTvg995RmgtR-v4TJJrtwg6O1EuwfwPQ

  4. Sadly, all it’ll take is either a successful personal injury lawsuit or anyone, lifeguard or visitor, to be severely injured by a wild horse, to close the area to human occupancy. That seems to me to be where events are leading there. It’s increasingly hard to justify the risk of a kick to someone’s spine or head resulting in injuries that never heal, or death.

    1. Chincoteague has suffered recent losses. Maureen from Misty of Chincoteague passed away, and then the Beebe Ranch burned. Luckily, Misty’s descendants who still reside at the ranch were unharmed.

      1. Karen S,
        Oh, my! That’s so sad! I hadn’t heard any of this. My kids and I just finished Stormy, Misty’s Foal.

        1. My son just finished Misty. So wonderful to see the next generation enjoying these books. He loved the old Billy and Blaze series by Anderson, as well.

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