Local legend, adopted as theory is that the ponies found their way to the island by a shipwrecked vessel in the late 18th century. Another popular one is that pirates came to the island, only to abandon the animals when they left. In truth, they really think that farmers during the colonial days used the island for grazing land to avoid paying taxes on the land. It always comes down to money, doesn't it?
The Saltwater Cowboys will swim the ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. They swim swim across the Assateague Channel and come ashore on the east side of Chincoteague Island. This year is the 97th Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim, which was made famous by Marguerite Henry's book, "Misty of Chincoteague". There are literally tens of thousands of people that make their way to Chincoteague Island each year to be a part of this annual tradition. I freely admit that I am one of those people, and I bring my own group of fun.
What is a Saltwater Cowboy? Saltwater Cowboys are firemen on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. They volunteer at the fire station, work in the community, and take care of the Chincoteague ponies. They are people who love their island community.
Today is a #BeautifulSunday by @Ace108, where we share our day in the most possibly beautiful way that we can. I am having the best of days, a definite #SublimeSunday in the making, by the Meister of my morning, @c0ff33a. I do love my @c0ff33 and he likes eclectic! A definite match, made in heaven. I want to thank @ace108 and @c0ff33a for hosting these fun challenges! Check them out!
The pony swim moves the ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island so the spring-born foals can be auctioned off. The auctions started as a way to control the size of the herd, keeping it sustainable. It is a small island and there is only so much food. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department owns the Chincoteague Ponies, whereas the Maryland herd is owned by the National Park Service and are not auctioned off. The Fire Company uses some of the proceeds from the auction to provide veterinary care for the ponies when needed.
First things first! There is a park that is the official gathering place to watch the ponies swim. It is wrong that they are referred to as ponies because of their smaller stature. Genetically, they are horses, and their heritage is related to standard breeds and quarter horses. Okay, we can call them ponies, because that sounds cute, but, just remember... they are horses. This is where the ponies beach after the swim. They swim right by the park and land here. Where do you think I want to be? Waving as they swim by? Lets get up close and personal to the ponies! Oh, wait! Did anyone tell you that you have to trudge through the swamp to get there? Follow those men above or that line of people waiting their turn to brave the swamp. Get there early. The later it is, the more people have gone through itm and it gets deeper and muddier as the day gets long. No worries! It's all part of the experience!
Public viewing area: Veterans Memorial Park 7427 Memorial Park Dr, Chincoteague Island, VA 23336.
The red smoke signals the "all clear" meaning they can safely swim across. The swim takes place at "slack tide". Slack tide is a period of about 30 minutes between tides, when there is no current. This is the easiest time for the ponies to make the swim. Remember there are three month old foals swimming also.
Ready! Set! Go! Go! Go! Go!
The ponies are on the other side of the channel and are heading into the water a few at a time. The line goes way back and it will take a bit for them all to get in. There are usually a few that are taken over to the other side by the barge. A very pregnant mare, a very tiny baby or one that is possibly a little spooked. There will be no horse left behind.Unless they escape bac into the swamp. It has happened. :)
The first foal to reach the shore will be named King or Queen Neptune and will be given away in a raffle drawing at the carnival grounds later that night. The tickets cost $1.00! That is a deal! This year it was a King Neptune!
This year, the first foal to hit the beach was number 19, a black and white male. There will be a King this year. He is going to be raffled off later tonight at the Carnival Grounds. Goo luck to everyone holding a ticket. King Neptune is in this crowd here, but, unfortuneatly, I didn't get a good shot of him.
Every time I come out here, I go back happier and more at peace. The ocean pulls me toward her and I willingly run towards her. It has been like that my entire life. She is my master. How can I argue with that? A pony for you. At your service.
After the swim, they let the ponies rest for about 45 minutes to an hour. Then the Saltwater Cowboys parade the ponies down Main Street, to the carnival grounds. This is where everything happens, from the raffle for the King, and the auction tomorrow! See you there!
Let's recap! Veterans Memorial Park is not where the Ponies come ashore. The Ponies come ashore at Pony Swim Lane, just south of Veterans Memorial Park. If you wish to watch the Ponies come ashore at Pony Swim Lane, please be aware that you will be standing in marshland and space is very limited. No seating is provided. The swim takes place at "slack tide". Slack tide is a period of about 30 minutes between tides when there is no current. This is the easiest time for the ponies to make the swim. The time of slack tide varies each year. However, the swim generally takes place sometime between 7 am and 1 pm. The specific time will be announced at the carnival grounds the week of the swim. Just so the locals know. Courtesy of the Chincoteague Pony Swim Guide.
I want to thank you for coming along for the pony swim at Chincoteague Island. It has been fun trying to replay it for you and I want to apologize for the less than stellar photos with all the rain and overcast. Just think of me, camping in it all! Well, it was fun anyway! I want to thank National Geographic as I am showing their YouTube video here.
I want to thank @ace108 and @c0ff33a for hosting these challenges! I hope everyone is having a #BeautifulSunday, Sublimely so! And just like that, this post is over! Come back tomorrow and we will do it again!
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
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