Are you ready for a fun, amazing outdoor adventure watching the most beautiful wild ponies on the Eastern Shore?
What is Pony Penning Day for, you’re wondering? Follow me on my annual herd round-up adventure with personalized stories and some personalized pictures! I’m a horse lover at heart!
The adventure starts just after sunrise. I generally park at the local elementary school and catch a quick and easy shuttle to Memorial Park, that is where you will get the best view to see these amazing ponies. Once you’re in the park, you can also purchase photos from previous years, t-shirts to memorialize your trip and tickets to win the first foal that reaches land. It’s generally crowded when you arrive, but if it isn’t, it soon will be. Trust me.
It is an amazing event to witness. People come from all over the United States to see the ponies swim every year with the hopes to take one of the foals home with them. The bloodlines of these wild creatures go back to 1790! It all started with a Spanish Galleon and a herd of ponies on board. This ship wrecked just off the shore of Assateague Island and luckily the ponies found their way to safety on the beaches of Virginia. The ponies today are direct descendants of the ponies back then.
Another claim to fame for these amazing ponies is thanks to an author named Marguerite Henry. She procured a filly named Misty and authored a novel that would change Chincoteague Island forever! Misty of Chincoteague was the story that brought the fundraiser and the pony swim the notoriety that has held the country captive on this day for generations.
One year I met a mother and daughter that had flown in from California to see them swim and purchase a foal at the auction. Her daughter had read all of the books about Misty and her foals and her mother decided they needed to witness this amazing event that she had read about for years! Speaking of the auction, the Pony Swim isn’t just for fun. It is a huge fundraiser for Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. 2016 marks the 91st Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim! It is an example of living history! Every year, there are new foals, and some of the foals from the previous year are grown up and living as part of the different herds.
In case you are wondering about who the rest of the event goes, I’ll be happy to fill you in!
You should find a good viewing space and pack a few snacks and drinks. Sometimes, depending on the tides, you may have to wait a few hours for high tide to pass before the Saltwater Cowboys guide the ponies across the channel and onto Chincoteague Island. Once the ponies take a short break, they are herded down Main Street and to the carnival grounds for viewing and auction.
As the sun starts to fade, you can engage in a raffle for the first foal that reached the shore. Then the next evening, you can view and bid on the other foals at the auction. On the third day, the remaining ponies in the herd will swim back to their homeland and enjoy the campers, tourists, and beaches until the next year. If you ever get the opportunity to witness this fascinating undertaking, drop everything and go!