Posted by: Rosebud | July 6, 2010

If Horses Were People …

The Compassion of The Wicked…

If horses were people….

82nd Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim

Fascinating brochure printed by the National Park service illustrates as clearly as a parable the differences between government and private industry.  I’m sure the anonymous authors of this little brochure did not intend to create a parable about government-run health care, but that’s how it comes off.

83rd Annual Pony Swim in Chincoteague VA

Fans of “Misty of Chincoteague” already know the story of the wild horses of Assateague Island, the NPS brochure gives the background story if you don’t know it.  One detail left out is that the swim generates a lot of tourist interest as these photos seem to indicate.  Presumably there would be some tourist industry dollars generated by this interest. 

 On the Maryland side, it isn’t clear if anyone owns the horses and there certainly is nothing like the Chincoteague pony swim.

The NPS brochure illustrates the difference between “caring” about something because it has monetary value and “caring” for something because you want everything to stay the same or everything to be considered equal.  Personally, I see it as an allegory for Government run anything.  The government cannot want anything or anyone to be considered more valuable than anything or anyone else.  Justice must be blind, and everyone is endowed by their creator with inalienable rights.  However, business requires a competitive edge, after all “every skill under the sun is the result of a man striving with his neighbor.”  One of our implied freedoms is to fail, it is this freedom that creates the risk that drives innovation and economic growth. Also, this whole matter of “caring,” institutions cannot “care” about anything, only people can care. 

Now, for a comparison of the facts presented in the NPS brochure, everything below is a direct quote from the NPS brochure.

Misty of Chincoteague and Pony Penning

Many visitors first learn about the Assateague horses from Marguerite Henry’s famous book Misty of Chincoteague. Written in 1947, this classic children’s tale tells the story of a young horse called “Misty” and the children who loved her. While the story is fiction, the characters (including the horses) were real.

 The story takes place during a traditional Chincoteague festival called “Pony Penning”. On the last Wednesday of July, the Virginia herd of horses is rounded up and swum from Assateague Island to nearby Chincoteage [sic – this misspelling of Chincoteague is in the NPS brochure] Island. On the following day most of the young foals are auctioned off.

 Proceeds from the sale benefit the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department, which is responsible for the care and management of the Virginia herd.

 Virginia’s privately owned horses are kept separated from Maryland’s wild horses by a fence that runs across the Maryland/Virginia state line. Maryland’s horses are not rounded up or sold at auction.

 Q. Do they receive veterinary care?


Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department provides some veterinary care.


Action may be taken to end the suffering of a gravely ill, seriously injured, or dying horse, no measures are taken to prolong the lives of Maryland’s wild horses.

Q. How is the population controlled?


Virginia’s privately owned herd produces 60-90 foals every year.  Most of the foals are sold at the annual auction, which keeps the number of horses at or below the 150 adults allowed by the grazing permit.


Researchers working in conjunction with the NPS developed a non-hormonal , non-invasive vaccine to prevent pregnancy.  This vaccine is delivered by a dart to the hindquarters of selected mares each spring.  This vaccine has successfully lowered the birth rate of Maryland’s horses to fewer than 10 foals per year.


In Virginia the horse herd is managed by selling off most of the young which earns dollars.  Thanks to a creative book the herd performs a pony swim which draws tourist dollars to also support the town.  The herd is cared for like the valuable investment it is.  In Maryland the herd is “free” but the government uses birth control to enforce a zero growth policy and the health plan is only euthanizing and only for those suffering.


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