Chincoteague Pony Swim Gets Underway on Wednesday Morning
By Mallory Metzner
CHINCOTEAGUE, Va.- The 94th Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim has brought tens of thousands of people to the Eastern Shore today.
The swim is slated to start sometime between 9 and 9:45 a.m. The Saltwater Cowboys will herd an army of about 110 wild adult ponies across the Assateague Channel from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island.
The swim, held every year in July by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, always takes place at "slack tide," which is a period of about half an hour between tides, when there is no current. This makes it easier for the ponies to make the swim.
Following the swim, the ponies will rest for 45 minutes. Then the Saltwater Cowboys will then lead the ponies down Main Street, to the carnival grounds where the foals will be auctioned off the following day.
Some of the money raised by the fire company's fundraiser will benefit a regional charity and help provide veterinary services for ponies throughout the year.
Each year the fire department designates a select few ponies as "buy backs." A buy back pony is a foal that is designated by the fire company to return to Assateague Island to live out its life there and help replenish the herd. The buy back pony will be auctioned with the rest of the foals. The winner of a buy back pony will get to name the pony before it is returned to Assateague.
On Friday, the adult ponies will make the return swim to Assateague where they will live in the wild for another year.