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Chincoteague Pony Swim

Chincoteague Ponies

Chincoteague Ponies

Chincoteague PoniesLegend has it that once upon a time, a Spanish galleon floundered off the shore of Virginia during a storm.  The cargo, a herd of ponies bound for the coal mines, escaped.  They swam to the barrier islands of Assategue and Chincoteague, and established the herds still in existence today.  Although it is far more likely that thrifty 17th century Virginians kept their horses on the islands to avoid paying a fencing tax, this is the legend immortalized in the book "Misty of Chincoteague "  

Chincoteague Pony QuiltToday the ponies belong to the Chincoteague Fire Department.  The yearly auction and its accompanying carnival are a major source of their income.  The Chincoteague pony is a recognized breed.  The quilt at right was one of several items raffled off at last years carnival.

Chincoteague Pony Swim SunriseChincoteague PoniesDuring the last week of July, Chincoteague firefighters round up the wild ponies on the island of Assateague.   Early on Wednesday morning, the "saltwater cowboys" herd the 150 or so ponies across the narrowest part of the channel between Assateague and Chincoteague at low tide.  The saltwater cowboys bring their horses back by ferry.


In the predawn darkness, the horses begin their swim

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The first foal to reach the shore is christened King or Queen Neptune.
Click here for more pony swim information.

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The ponies are then herded through the town to the carnival grounds...

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where the foals are auctioned off.  Buyers have the option of donating females back to the herd.  This is not a small gift, as auction prices start at $900 and can go as high as $4000.

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Assateague Island LighthouseIsland SwansQuoting from http://www.chincoteague.com; "Chincoteague Island, Virginia's only resort island, is one of the many and perhaps the most beautiful island that dots Virginia's Eastern Shore. World famous for its oyster beds and clam shoals, this picturesque island is the gateway to Assateague Island National Seashore. Adventure awaits everywhere as history and legend blend with the wild loveliness of the seasonal shore. The serene fishing village, 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide and abounding with history and natural charm, welcomes you to explore its unique island heritage."

The Assateague Island Lighthouse is still a working lighthouse.   Island paths lead TO it, but you can't go in.   Other Chincoteague links:

National Chincoteague Pony Foundation's Website