In a pasture along a quiet road in a small town west of Boston are several dozen neglected horses. But don’t feel too bad because these horses don’t neigh, need hay or even fresh water.
Nicknamed “Ponyhenge,” this curious site is full of discarded plastic ponies of childhoods past who often sit in a similar formation as that of the infamous Stonehenge monument in England. Unlike Stonehenge, Ponyhenge’s origins are known but it doesn’t make this shrine any less eerie.
Around 2010, the owners of the field in Lincoln, Massachusetts, married couple James Pingeon and Elizabeth Graver, put out the first horse — a Halloween prop — as a lark, thinking a passing child might want to ride it or take it home. But gradually and unexpectedly, more toy riding horses turned up from unseen donors. Eventually, there was a fair collection of them, and Ponyhenge started getting visitors curious to see the “rocking-horse graveyard.”
You can find photos of its wonders across social media, with one recent visitor, Dr. David Steensma, commenting cheekily on its origins in November 2021.
Made a pilgrimage to the nearby landmark of #Ponyhenge. Scholars still debate how the natives of this district dragged all the riding horses to this sacred site, and whether the arrangement was just for storage or had ceremonial purposes & was meant to follow the path of the sun pic.twitter.com/AH5rYK4U1Z
— David Steensma, MD (@DavidSteensma) November 21, 2021
One thing that keeps the legends of Ponyhenge growing is that the abandoned horses sometimes change formation, from their Stonehenge-like circles to being toppled over, for instance. They’ve been spotted in race formation and lined up as if listening to one wooden horse decorated to look like a member of Kiss performing a concert. Holiday lights even go on them in the winter.
According to Atlas Obscura, at one point during the pandemic, the ponies sported face masks. They also got political during some past elections with signs like one that read, “We’re Bucking for Biden.”
You can see the ponies from many angles, including above via drones, in this video about the site’s history from YouTuber Matt Eastwood.
Anyone can visit this unusual attraction, which sits along Old Sudbury Road, totally free, as long as they’re respectful of the horses, the owners say. They also don’t mind if people take ponies home. In fact, they encourage it to keep the collection from becoming too big.
“They breed profusely,” Pingeon told Atlas Obscura. “I’m often culling the herd and taking them to the dump.”
He said he had tried taking some of them to the local community swap table but then found that often those same ponies would end up back in his field.
“We think about getting rid of them or shrinking it, but whenever I think, ‘I’ve had enough,’ you start seeing these little kids out there having a wonderful time and old people really smiling and enjoying it, so I dunno, ” he told the travel site.
Visitors aren’t just children and their adults. A couple has gotten married at Ponyhenge and a retiree yoga group made a field trip to the pasture. It’s a quick sightseeing stop for Lincoln residents to take visitors. Some find the spot whimsical, others creepy, still others just odd enough to be cool.
Some stop on their way to Walden Pond or to and from Boston as Facebook user Carol Leonesio recently did. She caught a glimpse of the painted ponies buried in snow.
You can easily find Ponyhenge with a quick search on Google Maps (the address 39 Old Sudbury Road, Lincoln, Massachusetts) if you ever decide to make the trek there in person. Or you can simply go west along Route 117 to Old Sudbury Road and down the road a 1/2-mile until you see the horses on the left.
What’s the most unusual roadside attraction you’ve come across in your travels?