The ponies of Assateague Island

16 Photos

Assateague Island National Seashore is home to about 101 wild ponies. The herd in the northern area of Assateague can be seen around the island, from parking lots to the beach to the salt marshes. On hot afternoons they often wander to the beach, where there’s always a warm breeze that acts, along with their fluffy tails, like a fly swatter.

On July 26th and 27th “Saltwater Cowboys” will gather the ponies from the southern herd of the island to prepare for the 89th annual pony swim to Chincoteague Island, which will happen on Wednesday July 30. The swim was made famous by the popular children’s book “Misty of Chincoteague” written by Marguerite Henry in 1947.

Thousands of spectators will gather on the island to marvel over this annual summer tradition. After the ponies dry off, they will parade down Main Street. The next day foals will be auctioned so that the size of the herd can be controlled and the funds can be used for veterinary care for the remaining ponies.

After all the excitement, the adult ponies swim back to the wilds of Assateague where they can spend another year inspiring visitors with their grace and beauty.

To see pictures from last year’s Chincoteague pony swim go here.
The original version of this story did not clarify which ponies take part in the annual swim and auction. Only the Southern herd based on the Virginia portion of the island participate.