So, besides getting some of the best saltwater taffy ever, our reason for spending a couple days in Ocean City on our way out of the Delmarva Peninsula was so that we could head down to the 93rd Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim.
We were really looking forward to it – watching the ponies make the swim across the channel,
and then the parade through town to the festival grounds, where the next day the new ponies would be auctioned off – some going home with new families, and others being donated back to the fire department to live in the wild an Assateague Island with the herd.
The swim was planned between 8am & 10am on Wednesday, and we woke up bright & early for the hour drive down to Chincoteague . . . to pouring rain!
We listened to the rain, checked radar maps, and debated whether we should make the drive, or not. We ultimately decided to go, but didn’t get on the road until 7:30, knowing that we may likely miss the swim. I was checking the Facebook page while we drove, and just before we arrived on Chincoteague Island, the ponies started their swim.
The swim only takes about 5 – 10 minutes, so we knew we had missed it, so we headed right over to the Festival grounds to wait for them to arrive.
I was able to get a few photos later from the Fire Department’s Facebook page.
It turns out that from Veterans Memorial Park, you can only see the swim on a big screen. In order to see the horses in person, you have to wade into the marsh, about thigh-deep in mud. No thanks – I don’t think we would have been up for that!
We waited downtown for the parade to start, as the ponies rested up form their swim.
About an hour after we arrived, the pony parade started.
The ponies were accompanied by the Saltwater Cowboys.
The new foals were intermingled with the adults of the herd.
They didn’t seem fazed at all by the crowd watching and cheering them on.
(The dark horse with the blond mane in the photo above is Riptide – he’s the “king” of the herd, and father to multiple foals. He’s a beautiful horse!)
Bringing up the rear, the newest foal was too small to walk that far, so he got a ride in the trailer.
At the end of the parade, the ponies were all taken to the large corral at the Festival grounds. We took a few minutes to get some breakfast at a local restaurant, and it was a good thing we went there first – after we were seated the crowd hit, and they were lined up out the door! Tom had french toast, and I had blueberry pancakes (the Chincoteague Blueberry Festival had just wrapped up) – YUM!
After our breakfast, we walked back to the pony corral.
Most of the adults were eating, while most of the babies were resting, or just looking around at all the people looking at them.
These four look like the neighborhood patrol.
But the really popular spot was the hay bales.
I read on the Fire Department’s Facebook page that there were 57 foals this year; 10 of them were designated as Buybacks, which meant that the winning bidder got naming rights but that the pony would be returned to the herd. The others would go home with their winning bidders.
The red tag on this pony designated it as a buyback foal.
The foals were so cute!
In many cases, the mares and foals were separated from their stallion.
These couple kept calling to each other, and the stallion would look up from where he was eating and run over to her.
He was a feisty stallion, and after he saw her at the fence he would charge back into the crowd at the hay bale and make everybody scatter.
He went up against Riptide several times while we were there watching, then he would run back over to the fence.
Some looked like they were whispering secrets to each other.
We loved watching the little families.
So, even though we didn’t get to see the actual swim in person, it was cool to see the ponies as they paraded through town and relaxed in the corral, so we were glad we came.