The situation with the ponies has changed a lot in the past 25 years. They used to be truly free to roam Assateague Island. It was common to see them in the area near the beach. In the picture above, they are grazing near a bath house. This was a common site. The bath house is gone as is the grassy area and boardwalk. They are the victims of too many winter storms. The ponies are still there, but aren't seen in this area very often.
In the "olden" days, driving to the beach or around the wildlife loop could be an experience. It wasn't unusual to see 10 ponies standing in the middle of the road. They would move when they were ready. You could move when they were ready. Most people got out of their cars to get a closer look. The ponies didn't seem to pay much attention to the people, though.
At some point, a decision was made to keep the ponies away from the cars and the tourists away from the ponies. Apparently there was a concern about ponies being hit by cars and people being kicked or bitten by ponies. I suppose the concern is valid but I don't know of either of these happening.
Most of what is in these pictures won't be seen again. The ponies get out occasionally but not to the extent seen here.
You can still see them, but you have to work a little harder. Click on the link or the picture above to see the ponies as it used to be.