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Washington DC Photo Gallery Chincoteague Pony Swim

Chincoteague Pony Swim

Since 1925, rain or shine, the Volunteer Fireman's Carnival Pony Round Up and Swim across Assateaque Channel at Chincoteague Memorial Park on the east side of island has delighted visitors from across the globe. At "slack tide" on the last Wednesday of every July, Chincoteaque's "Saltwater Cowboys" herd about 150 ponies across Assateaque Channel. The ponies are rested and then herded and paraded to the carnival grounds. On Thursday ponies are auctioned as a fundraiser to benefit the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.

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The "Salt Water Cowboys"

The Chincoteague Pony Swim began in 1924 as a fundraiser for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.

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Chincoteague Pony Swim

Today, the ponies are rounded up and herded across the water from Assateague to Chincoteague by “Saltwater Cowboys”.

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Chincoteague Pony Swim

These ponies are associated with Chincoteague, but they actually live on Assateague and once a year herds are rounded up for a run and swim to Chincoteague.

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Chincoteague Pony Swim

Legend has it that the horses swam safely to shore after the Spanish ship holding them was wrecked in a violent storm. However, most people believe the horses were moved to Assateague by colonists to avoid fencing laws and livestock taxes. These horses ...

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Chincoteague Pony Swim

Each horse’s family, health, and state are recorded and kept by the Chincoteague Wildlife Federation.

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Chincoteague Pony Swim

Herds of 150 ponies are placed on both the Maryland and Virginia sides of Assateague Island. The horses then group up in herds of two to 12 horses.

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Chincoteague Pony Swim

Herd size is held constant by a birth control program run by the Chincoteague Wildlife Federation that both improves the ponies’ health and keeps the island’s other wildlife safe.

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Chincoteague Pony Swim

This year, the first colt to swim ashore was named King Neptune and was given away at the carnival grounds after all the ponies had arrived from their journey.

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Chincoteague Pony Swim

The Annual Pony Swim at Chincoteague has now become a national treasure. Many residents and visitors of Chincoteague return to the Pony Swim every year to take part in this tradition.

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Ponies in the water!

Ponies make their way from Assateague to Chincoteague during the annual pony swim held on the third Wednesday of July every year.

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Ponies swimming in Assateague Channel

Once on Chincoteague Island, the salt water cowboys herd the ponies to pens on the Chincoteague Carnival Grounds where some of the foals are auctioned off on Thursday.

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Ponies preparing to come onshore

The Chincoteague Pony Swim is a traditional event and in its current form has taken place since 1925 to raise money for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department, but its roots date back to the 17th century.

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