The Chincoteague (shing-kuh-TEEG) pony originated off the coast of Virginia and Maryland on the island of Assateague. There are about 300 of these ponies living on the island. They are separated into two herds. The Maryland herd, owned by the National Wildlife Services and the Virginia herd owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Firefighters. Every year the Chincoteague volunteer Firefighters round up their ponies for the famous pony penning. This takes place in the last weekend of July. The ponies swim across a mile and a half channel during low tide to the island of Chincoteague. Pony penning is the oldest known round up in the United States and is Chincoteague’s main attraction. People travel from all over the country to attend the swim. After the ponies swim across the channel, they are herded down Main Street and put into holding pens. The foals are separated for the auction that takes place the next day. The foals number about 60 on average and are auctioned off to the highest bidder. A few Lucky kids or adults will go home with a wild foal of their own, a real piece of history. Despite the fact that the foals are wild, they bond quickly with their owners and are known as quite the people ponies.
Chincoteague ponies are known to have strong hoofs (they usually do not require shoes), a sturdy build, and resemble the mustang in many ways. They can come in many colors such as bay, chestnut, black, palomino, buckskin, and are usually solid or pinto. They make wonderful children’s mounts and are often ridden by adults. They stand anywhere from 12 to 14 hands and have been known to reach 15 hands on rare occasions. They are easy keepers and are used in many events such as trail riding, driving, jumping, mounted games, western riding, cattle work, and dressage. You name it, they will do it. They have amazing personalities, love to learn tricks, and are very willing to please.
Chincoteague ponies were made famous by a palomino pinto mare named Misty who had a series of books written about her by Marguerite Henry. The title of the first book is Misty of Chincoteague.
For more information about Chincoteague Ponies take a look at the National Chincoteague Pony association website.