Yesterday off the coast of Virginia, a school of sea horses made their way to shore. It actually doesn’t sound all that newsworthy, until you see the photos that accompany the headline…
The annual Chincoteague Pony Swim is a beloved spectacle on the Virginia coastline. This year marks the 92nd. Now well organized and managed by the respective local authorities, in the days leading up to the swim, the “Saltwater Cowboys” begin rounding up the herd and settling them in to their starting corral. In an effort to keep the feral herd to a safe number, ponies are selected for sale from the herd on a yearly basis as well. The ponies are vetted prior to their swim day, after which they get a chance to catch their breath before being paraded through town. The auction follows the next day, where lucky buyers can purchase their own living breathing history.
More detailed information can be found on a number of websites. I found the complete schedule here: http://www.chincoteague.com/pony_swim_guide.html Several news stations also report on the event, http://www.abc2news.com/news/news-photo-gallery/the-82nd-annual-chincoteague-pony-swim This is definitely an event I want to add to my bucket list!
Legends say the ponies of Chincoteague and Assateague islands descend from the horses brought over from Spanish ships in the 16th-18th centuries. More likely they’re a result of 17th-century colonists looking to escape livestock laws and taxes on the mainland. Possibly a happy marriage of both. However their story began, it’s still one that locals and visitors enjoy the re-telling of every year. For me, it’s a combination of things I love, horses and the sea, and I can’t wait to see it in person some day!