Dear “Wild” Ponies of Grayson Highlands State Park,

I don’t care how damn iconic you think you are, grazing on a bald with the wind blowing your bushy forelock over your eyes, recalling the Scottish Highlands to the hundreds of visitors you attract. I don’t care how many years of backpackers, vacationing families, and day hikers you have seduced and defrauded with your sham of timorousness and your precocious pony ways. I don’t care because I KNOW. I know that you only graze on balds because they happen to be the best vantage points from which to choose your potential victims. And I know that your ridiculously bushy forelocks hide the cunning brown windows to your maligned, manipulative little souls. Your train of deceit ends here. I am throwing down the gauntlet.

Listen up, ponies, I’m sure it started innocently enough—an apple conned from picnickers here, candy stolen from a baby there—but your vignette of windswept mystery stops now. Because last Saturday morning, you screwed with the wrong group of backpackers.

As wild ponies, there are certain things that are allowed and expected of you: you should graze picturesquely in fields, cavort fleetly over the heights, and most of all, retreat safely into the middle distance when you sense the threat of human encroachment on the wind. Well, last Saturday morning was a definitive breach of Wild Pony Code, which does not include: 1) barging unannounced into camp as soon as a stove is lit for breakfast; 2) knocking over said stove in an attempt to procure oatmeal for yourselves; 3) getting offended when gently one-armed out of camp and sent on your way; 4) attempting to kick and bite several members of our party in an attempt to express your frustrations with us; 5) carrying said frustrations to an adjacent campsite and succeeding in kicking one man and his dog, much to your satisfaction. Come on, ponies, that’s the sort of crap I expect from my in-laws at Thanksgiving. Leave that to them.

So, ponies, the issue here, due to your blatant violation of Wild Pony Code, is that you are pulling the old “bait’n’switch” on all park goers. If you continue to castigate your status as wild ponies then we are going to have to take actions against you. I have already suggested several options to the park board, including the relabeling of you and all your kind in such a way as not to be misleading to the public. Alternative titles currently being considered are: “The Wild Unless-You-Have-Oatmeal Ponies,” “The Spatially-Challenged Ponies,” “The Only-Slightly-Feral Ponies,” and as unanimously suggested by members of the backpacking party in question, “The Douchebag Ponies.”

Oh, ponies, Misty of Chincoteague is frowning on you. How far you have fallen. And don’t even make me bring up Mustang Annie. She might even be ashamed of petitioning for the freedom of your distant relatives simply because you are related somehow. Think about that, ponies. Think about it long and hard.

Times are hard ponies, so either buck up (figuratively—our experience with you doing so literally was lamentable) and shoulder the responsibility that comes with being iconic wild ponies or let us re-label you for the panhandling, miscreant equine derivatives that you have become.

Ashlyn Ozment