Trying out the Assateague Horse ID app

Trying out the Assateague Horse ID app

I may have only moved to the Shore a few months ago, but I don’t think the beauty of the Assateague horses will ever get old to me. I’ve been to the island a few times before, but spotting a horse on the beach or right outside your car window is still kind of like seeing Bigfoot (but more majestic?). It’s like when I went to the Smoky Mountains in May. We were driving up, up, up the mountain when we started to see tens of cars stopped and parked alongside the road. We got out of the car to find out what had everyone crowding around the edge of the woods, and saw three black bear cubs just a short distance away. 

Seeing one or several of the island horses provides the same kind of excitement and awe (it’s just a bit less rare and a lot less dangerous than seeing a bear cub), no matter how many times you’ve seen them. That’s why it’s so cool that the Assateague Island Alliance just launched a Horse ID app that’ll allow you to identify who it is exactly you’re marveling at. Here are a few screenshots I took from my own horse ID’ing adventure that’ll show you how it works. 

App rules
First, you have to agree to follow the rules.
Horse app
Then you have to find a horse. Bonus points if you find several, like I did, but you can only ID one at a time.
Horse app
After you take a picture, you’ll be lead to the field identifier. First, identify the color of the horse–there’s black, bay, sorrel pinto, bay pinto, sorrel/chestnut, buckskin, palomino and palomino pinto. I didn’t know what most of these were beforehand, but tap on the little question mark and there will be a description of the color along with an example picture.
Horse app
We’re almost there! Now you just identify the gender and specific characteristics or markings of the horse. There’s a long list of characteristics with more descriptions and pictures for reference.
Horse app
I had to choose from four different horses that were all sorrel/chestnut colored and female with no markings. I’m pretty sure the horse I saw was N9BFV, who doesn’t appear to have a name. (Edit: turns out there were markings I could choose from to ID this horse, like the side her mane is on and the presence of her short forelock. She still appears to be N9BFV.) 
Horse app
And that’s one in the books! It’s pretty cool that the app includes a guide book so you can keep track of all the horses you’ve seen.

You can also view horses that other people have identified under the “Recently ID’d” page. 

Horse on app
Most recently someone had spotted Yankee.

How lucky you are with the app and horse sightings in general just depends on the day you visit. I went on an overcast Saturday and only saw one horse during the several hours I was there (one woman I met on a trail asked desperately, “have you seen any ponies today?”). When I tried to ID it the one pony I saw, I found that I didn’t have good enough reception where I was standing, so I soon gave up, and I don’t think my picture is clear enough to try to ID it from home. 

Horse screenshot
By the way, this is what the screen looks like when you’re taking the picture. Pretty simple. Props to you if you can tell me who this mystery pony is!

But, if your pictures are good enough, you can wait until your phone has better reception and try to identify a horse later on. That’s what I did when I went on Tuesday and got up close and personal with three horses that were hanging around a parking lot. Here are a few non-cellphone photos from my pony ID adventure on Tuesday. Good luck to you on your own expeditions, and don’t give up!

Horse on road
I knew it would be a good day when I crossed the bridge and immediately saw a horse on the road (this is the only cellphone picture because I was driving, albeit very slowly).
Bob the horse
The app tells me that this guy is Bodacious Bob, a 17-year-old Bay Pinto Stallion.
Bob the horse
Bob didn’t seem to mind having his photo taken. Sometimes it seemed like he was posing.
Assateague horses
Time for a little rolling around.
Horse
N9BFV takes a rest in the grass.
Looking at horses
A few people gathered to look out at all the horses that had congregated nearby.
Horses eating
Just a quick bite to eat, and then they were on their way.

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