I honestly don’t know where to even begin… This week has just been crazy. My friends and I (hi Jen, Jen, Lory, Bailey and Morgan) have been shaking our heads all week with the actions and exploits of the horses on the Island. The biting flies have been horrible, and their actions and responses have been out of anger and frustration. Nothing made sense. We have seen Bodacious Bob footslog all the way to the access road along the entrance to the state park campgrounds and then out into the marsh along the causeway where Yankee usually hangs out. We have marched along with Assateague Lightning and his band all the way to KM 8.5 which is way farther north than we have ever seen him, only for him to turn around and literally run back down the beach. We have watched Chip steal Annie Laurie from Assateague Lightning and then Assateague Lightning steal her back only for her to get stolen again by General Harker, Fitz on the beach by himself getting into it with Susie’s colt and Chip, and then just about every band on the Island to hop in the ocean waves.

There’s been so much happening that I wasn't quite sure what to write about this week, but I’ve decided to stick with just one morning which was the craziest morning I’ve seen this summer. So, bear with me to get this past Friday morning set up for you… This might be a little longer post than usual.

It all started at the beginning of the week, really. I typically check the forecast several times a day and just last week it felt like summer was winding down. Wrong!! This week it was forecasted to be hot and muggy with west winds most of the days. I’m sure anyone that was on the Island can attest to the bad flies this whole week.

Well, when I see west winds I get excited because it means there is a chance the horses could go into the ocean for relief. So, I went down a couple of times after work trying to find more horses in the waves with the heat and west winds, but wasn’t having much luck.
As I was sitting at work Thursday morning I got a text, then another text and another… My friends were texting me images of Bodacious Bob and his band in the waves earlier in the morning. I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t sit still the rest of the day. With another west wind day on Friday, there was only one thing left to do… Take Friday off! I had to, I mean this is seriously important stuff.

I had a late meeting on Thursday, but when I got off I went straight to the Island. I couldn’t wait to get there. Winds were still blowing from the west, and I was on a mission, so I thought.

Once I got parked, I grabbed my camera bag filled with water and Gatorade and I just started walking. I quickly spotted Johnny’s Star and her colt bolt across the dunes from the North Beach parking lot running toward the ocean. They were well ahead of me, and I lost them in the beach crowd, but less than 5 minutes later they ran back across the beach right up and over the dunes. She’s with Mr. Frisky Hooves right now, and I had no idea where the rest of the band was.

I walked a bit farther and spotted well ahead of me a pinto that I thought was Bodacious Bob since I was in his neck of the woods, err, beach. But, it wasn’t… It was Bob’s mom Rosie. She also went down to the beach absent her band. I excitedly caught up to her and stood around watching and waiting for her to take a quick dip in the ocean. Unfortunately, it never happened. She whinnied a bit with her ears pointed forward while watching back the way she came for her band to come, but they never did. So, she also took off and ran back up and over the dunes presumably to go back to her band.

I was so disappointed. I went up to the beach overlook between North and South Beach and sat on the bench so I could watch north and south, but for over an hour nothing happened. Clouds were rolling in, and the temperature was quickly dropping. I dishearteningly traipsed north again hoping another band would cross my path, but I made it up to F Loop in the State Park with my step counter on my watch crossing the 16,000 step mark with no bands in sight.

Then my phone started going off with texts about more horse activity farther north in the State Park. I kept going north when I bumped into Assateague Lightning’s band who, apparently, were also on a mission. As we walked north I found my friend Morgan who joined in the march and then found my wife who joined in the march and my other friend Jen who joined in the march. Assateague Lightning walked all the way to KM 8.5 which is where I saw Chestnut two weeks ago during the airshow. He got up there, walked over to a dune, and ate some grass for literally 2 minutes before turning around and running and galloping with his whole band back down the beach. And, that was that. We all walked back down the beach laughing our heads off trying to figure out what just happened. Oh well, another 5000 steps and I was back at my car. I might not have gotten many images on Thursday, but what a fantastically fun afternoon and evening on the Island pursuing and watching the horses with the anticipation of them getting into the ocean.

I set my alarm for 4:45 am on Friday morning. I wanted to get up and get out there; I was hoping to find Bodacious Bob and maybe see him in the water like my friends did Thursday morning.

The time to get up came all too quickly with that annoying buzzer. I ate a quick bite and was out the door. My friend Jen was already on the National Seashore so I stayed up north and immediately found Bodacious Bob... all the way up at the State Park lot. I had never seen him this far north. What is happening? I thought for a minute I was in the Upside Down on Stranger Things but realized I wasn’t. So, instead of fighting the Island’s version of the Shadow Monster and the Demogorgon otherwise known as mosquitoes and black flies, I just stayed in my car watching him and hoping he would go towards the beach. But, he didn’t… he went out into the marsh. Come on, Bob!!

Okay, so Plan B. Find more horses. The sun was rising and the sky was turning pink and orange. It was pretty, but it was like a hazy fireball in the sky like it was foretelling how hot it was going to be today.

I was being told General Harker was down at the North Beach parking lot and Joy was near H or I Loop.

I ended up going out to the beach and found Fitz all by himself around G Loop whinnying for all it was worth. Fitz is Joy and Ms. Macky’s one year old colt. Well, his whinnying ended up catching the attention of Chip and his band who were coming at Fitz from the north. Next thing you know Susie’s colt came running up to Fitz like stallions do when they challenge each other. The only thing is the challenger was a few months old and the one being challenged, Fitz, was only a one year old. It was cute to watch for a minute as the two pretended they were much older. It was a battle of the babies.

Well, then Chip decided to forcefully run Fitz off the beach. Of course, Susie’s colt wanted to help dad run that pesky kid off the beach, too.

Chip ended up running Fitz up and over the dunes and down into the campground loop where Fitz was, once again, left all alone. And once again started whinnying his head off. I am not sure how he got separated from Joy and Ms. Macky who were a couple of loops down, but surely after a year he wasn’t kicked out of the band, yet. Or, maybe he was. I don’t know. Anyway, we will have to watch this one.

Once Chip got over the dunes, Mr. Frisky Hooves was also nearby. So, of course, now Chip’s attention was diverted to MFH where a small scuffle happened between the two of them but ended just as quickly as it started.

MFH has both Johnny’s Star and her colt and Mieke’s Noe’lani and her colt, as well as several others including Coco, Tara and Christina Key. Instead of fighting Chip, MFH just led his band right up and over the dunes and onto the beach.

The sun was still coming up as all of this happened so quickly. It was nice to be able to grab some images of the band along the surf at sunrise since I haven’t been out for many sunrises this year. I was still waiting for some horses to hop in the drink, though.

After some time with Mr. Frisky Hooves’ band, it was getting brighter and hotter out as the hazy sun got higher and higher. Some more friends joined us and as we talked, we noticed more horses to the north. I zoomed in on them and realized two other bands were up there. We started to head towards them and realized it was Assateague Lightning and Yankee’s band standing about 50 feet apart from each other. Okay, no horses in the water, but we were armed with our cameras and ready for a colossal fight between these two warrior stallions.

I guess it was too hot to fight, though. All the horses were too busy fighting off the flies, anyway. Yankee challenged Assateague Lightning a few times, but he wanted nothing to do with Yankee or fighting. Both Yankee and Assateague Lightning kept their bands pretty close together as the horses intertwined and rubbed against each other like a large school of baitfish in the water… I think it helped them brush the flies off of each other. Yankee was down by the surf and Assateague Lightning was up by the dunes.

I don’t have too many images of Yankee and Gokey’s current colt, so I concentrated on Yankee’s band. Unfortunately, even after Friday I still don’t have that many that really stand out to me. I was still mad at Assateague Lightning for that long walk he took us on the previous evening, anyway, as I ignored him. Well, not really.

Then, all of a sudden, one of Yankee’s mares, Patricia Irene, went into the ocean and the waves. I thought the whole band might go in so I still concentrated on the colt instead of Patricia Irene. She got smacked pretty good by a rough wave and walked out just a minute later. But, once she was out Yankee didn’t waste any time at getting the band over the dunes. They took off like a shot and were gone before the flying sand hit the beach again.

Yankee’s departure left Assateague Lightning and his band alone on the beach. My friends and I patiently waited and waited. I have images of Assateague Lightning going into the ocean from past years and was hoping he might do it again.

We were just about ready to call it when three year old Tommy Thunderbolt Nektosha and his mom, Harmony, waded out into the ocean and waves. They stayed out there for a couple of minutes, long enough to get some nice images of them together in the surf. It was rough, too. The surf knocked them around quite a bit.

We were hoping since Tommy and Harmony were in the ocean, Assateague Lightning would take his whole band in, too. However, once Tommy and Harmony got back out of the water, Assateague Lightning decided it was time to call it quits, too. He took the band south to E Loop and crossed the dunes into the State Park. I had to walk that way, too, so I just lingered behind them.

As I was walking back to my car, a bald eagle buzzed the beach and then landed on the E Loop sign by the dunes. I thought, wow, what a morning.

I was almost to my car and I could see across Bayberry Drive. Assateague Lightning had taken his band across the road and out into the marsh. I thought to myself most of the rest of today the bands will be out there in this hot, muggy and buggy weather.

I finally made it back to my car and cranked on the air conditioning. The sun was hot, the air was humid and the time to make images was lost to the bright daylight. As I crossed the causeway I looked to the south where Yankee usually is… Man, what a wild day. Bodacious Bob and his band who are usually all the way at South Beach on the National side are all the way up in the marsh by the causeway.

I got home and was doing some things around the house before going back down for a campfire with friends. I wanted to go out earlier than I did in the afternoon, but it was so hot. Nearly every band was in the ocean during the afternoon including Yankee, General Harker, Coco and Tara, Bodacious Bob and Assateague Lightning. If you ever wanted to see horses in the ocean, Friday was the day!!

My wife and I got back down to the Island Friday just before sunset to hang out with our friends. She took a quick walk on the beach and texted me right away to get out here, there were more horses in the water. It was getting dark and the half moon was out, so I headed out to see what was happening. We found Yankee, Gokey-Go-Bones and Patricia Irene back in the ocean. Yankee and Gokey’s colt was missing, but he was with mare Lauren’s Laughter who is the bay in Yankee’s band. They were on the other side of the dunes instead of with the band, but my friend Jen said the little tike was chasing his dad around like looney tunes before the trio went in the water. Come on, Yankee… he’s only a few months old.

The trio stayed in the water for nearly 40 minutes before Yankee finally had enough. A whinny deep from inside his chest told the others it was time to go. Up and out of the water like a cannonball, and they were gone.

Phew, what a day!! The flies and heat have caused frustration and lunacy as I thought wow, what a crazy week.

I hope everyone was safe from Hurricane Laura. I hope you have a good week and until then…

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