Towie Tug Button and
Miss Arrow Head Nine
The ponies live on the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague off
the coast of Virginia and Maryland. The Ponies are a race of small hardy
horses, compact and good natured. The legend is that these ponies swam
ashore from a Spanish Vessel which had capsized off the coast, around the
century 1600. Once on the islands they became stunted under the harsh environment.
To keep from starving they ate coarse saltmarsh cordgrass, American beachgrass,
thorny greenbrier stems, bayberry twigs, seaweed and even poison ivy. Because
they drink salt water, they have an appearance of being "fat" or "bloated".
The horses bred down to the unique breed we know today as the Chincoteague
Today there are two groups of these ponies descended down from the
only 17 original Arabian Horses in which survived the famous shipwreck.
The two groups are "The Maryland Herd" and "The Virginia Herd". The Virginia
Herd consists of approximately 130 head and is owned by the Chincoteague
Volunteer Fire Dept. The ponies graze in the Chincoteague National Wildlife
Refuge, located on the Virginia portion of Assateague Island. The Maryland
Herd consists of approximately 140 Head and is owned by the Maryland Park
The famous annual "Pony Round-up" and "Pony Swim" is held each year
during the month of July. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fireman herd the ponies
off their island at slack tide, through the sea water channel to Virginia.
On the last Wednesday of every July, the ponies are gathered for the sale
the next day. Here the baby foals are auctioned off to the highest bidder.
In 2001, the highest bid ever for a pony was $10,305.
IceCreamSundae and Colt Foal 7 days old.
Registered Chincoteague Ponies.
|After the Chincoteague Pony foals are sold,
the stallions and mares are taken back to their islands, again swimming
the channel at slack tide. Slack tide is when the water is at it's calmest
and the tide is neither coming in nor going out. This is the easiest time
for the ponies to cross the channel.
Cinnamon Filly Foal, 3 months old
Stormy Stud Colt,
3 years of age
|Today off the islands the ponies are "easy keepers". The Chincoteague
Pony requires little food compared to a adult horse. They will do nicely
in a weed patch, plus hay, a salt block, grain and fresh water. There is
a saying " A Chincoteague Pony can get fat on a cement slab".
There are approximately 980 privately owned Chincoteague Ponies scattered
over the United States and Canada. I was one of the lucky ones - I purchased
three Chincoteague Ponies and transferred them to Washington State. We
have been successfully breeding the ponies for over 26 years.
In the mid 80's Gale Park Frederick founded a horse registry for
the Chincoteague Ponies. They are now recognized as a pure and rare breed.
Cinnamon Filly Foal, one month old