Tuesday, April 26

Misty of Chincoteague & Horses

Horses have carried armored knights and saddle-less native Americans, pulled chariots and elegant coaches, carried Pony Express riders and munitions, and been used as cabs in the cities and plow horses in the country...

There are more than 150 breeds of horses and ponies—each one carefully produced by people through selective breeding to have particular, desirable traits.  These are typically divided into the categories of heavy horses, light horses, and ponies.

Heavy horses are the strongest types of horses.  Draft horses are heavy horses that were once commonly used to pull plows across farms and wagons filled with heavy freight.  Draft horse breeds include the Clydesdale, Belgian, and Suffolk.  Coach horses are somewhat smaller than draft horses, and were once commonly used for farm work and pulling heavy wagons. Coach horse breeds include the German coach, French coach, and Cleveland bay.

Light horses, also known as saddle horses, include breeds that are often used for riding, racing, performances in horse shows, and hunting.  The quarter horse is used for herding cattle and other ranch work, and is also the fastest racehorse, able to run a quarter mile in about 20 seconds.  The thoroughbred is a high-spirited breed used for racing, jumping, and hunting.  Oftentimes light horses are classified by their color patterns.  For example, palominos are light horses with a golden/blond coat and a golden or silvery mane or tail.  Appaloosas usually have a whitish area on the loin and hips with small dark “raindrop” spots.

Most ponies are gentle, easily trained animals that can be used for riding and for pulling or carrying light loads.  Pony breeds include the Welsh, Shetland, Hackney, and Connemara.  In addition to the many breeds of domestic horses, there are also some horses that live in the wild, such as the horses that lived on Assateague Island.  Horses that live in the wild in the western United States—animals that are sometimes called mustangs—are descendants of tame horses that escaped from Spanish colonists, Native Americans, and other people hundreds of years ago.  The only remaining truly wild horse today is the Przewalski horse of Central Asia.  This horse is an endangered species.

There were no horses in the Western Hemisphere when Europeans first arrived in the late 1400’s.  When Christopher Columbus and the other early explorers from Spain brought horses with them to the Americas, it was the first time that Native Americans had ever seen a horse. 

Legend states that Chincoteague ponies descend from Spanish horses shipwrecked off the Virginia coast on their way to Peru in the 16th century.  Another story holds that they descended from horses left on the island by pirates.  Both of these theories are unlikely, as no documentation has been found to show horses inhabiting the island this early, and no mention of horses already existing on the island was made by colonists on either the mainland or the island in the mid-to-late 1600s.

While the National Park Service holds to the theory that the horses were brought to the island in the 17th century, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which owns the ponies on the Virginia side of Assateague, argues that the Spanish shipwreck theory is correct. They argue that horses were too valuable in the 17th century to have been left to run wild on the island, and claim that there are two sunken Spanish galleons off the Virginia coast in support of their theory.

  • Misty of Chincoteague
    • On the island of Chincoteague, off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland, lives a centuries-old band of wild ponies. Among them is the most mysterious of all, Phantom, a rarely-seen mare that eludes all efforts to capture her—that is, until a young boy and girl lay eyes on her and determine that they can’t live without her. The frenzied roundup that follows on the next Pony Penning Day does indeed bring Phantom into their lives, in a way they never would have suspected. Phantom would forever be a creature of the wild. But her gentle, loyal colt Misty is another story altogether...
  • Marguerite Henry Horse Box Set
Make / Do
  • galleon
  • bay
  • stallion
  • mare
  • foal
  • colt
  • filly
  • withers
  • apparatus
  • cavalcade
  • scow
  • sorrel
  • mettlesome
  • Personification is the literary term for giving human characteristics to something thatvis not human. In Chapter 1, the author gives the storm human characteristics. How many instances can you find?
  • In Chapter 18, What do you think? Did Paul do the right thing? Why or why not?

Explore more with the Literature-Based Science Bundle!

Includes nine unit studies covering a variety of science topics presented in literature selections.
  • Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Units include:
  • Misty of Chincoteague & Horses
  • Hugo Cabret & Clocks / Time
  • Caroline’s Comet & Astronomy
  • Fuzzy Mud & Microbiology
  • Hatchet & Outdoor Skills
  • Airplanes & Flight
  • Marine Biology
  • Human Anatomy
  • Plant Dissection

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