85th Annual Wild Pony Swim

85th Annual Wild Pony Swim

Do you remember reading the book Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry, about the wild ponies of Assateague?

Well the ponies and the island are real… and every year since 1925, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company who are the owners and managers of the pony herds, have held an auction of the foals for that year.

The round up and auction occurs in July on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday.  This year the round up was on July 28, with the auction on July 29.  This was the 85th swim, which lasts approximately three minutes.
The crowds along the shore were expected to swell to forty thousand, as between one hundred fifty and one hundred seventy five ponies crossed the channel.  Mares, stallions, and their foals crossed during low tide, which helps ensure their safety while in the water.

Once the ponies reach the shore, the first foal is crowned “King or Queen Neptune.”  The winner will receive the foal at the Carnival Grounds.  They purchased a ticket from the Fire Company’s raffle, and the winner must be present to win.

In 2009, seventy ponies were sold.  The average cost was $1,344.29, and highest bid was $11,700.  Total sales came to $94,100.

The Chincoteague pony is a recognized breed, with pinto markings being the most common.  To keep the herd at a sustainable size of approximately one hundred and fifty horses, mares are given a contraceptive vaccine.
The mares and stallions returned to Assateague Island on Friday morning.  The island is 48,000 acres and the landscape and weather is ever changing.

Perhaps one day I will be able to travel to Virginia and see these wild ponies.

Equestrian Moments ~ KJ Anthony ~

Note:  The photo was provided by Patrick J. Hendrickson of Highcamera Aerial Photography, of this year’s round up.  Patrick gave me permission to share his photo with you, and if you want to see his other photos, be sure to go to his website… www.highcamera.com

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