Wednesday, July 17, 2013

88th Annual Chincoteague Pony Swim One Week Away

One week from today, people from around the world will be gathered on Chincoteague Island to see the world famous Pony Swim.  The latest news bulletin from the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company says that it currently looks as if the ponies will swim between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. next Wednesday, July 24, during the slack time at high tide.  When the tide is slack, the US Coast Guard cutter will shoot a flare to let the Saltwater Cowboys holding the ponies on the Assateague shore know that it's time to move the herds into the Assateague Channel for the swim to Chincoteague.  The swim itself is about one-eighth of a mile long, and is over pretty quickly.  Once all the ponies are on Chincoteague, they are allowed to graze and rest before being herded down Beebe Road and then north on Main Street to the Carnival Grounds.
  The Chincoteague ponies will start being rounded up on Friday, 19 July.  The herds on the north end of the island, below the Maryland drift fence are rounded up first.  They will be checked and evaluated by Dr. Cameron and his team of veterinarians.  All sound and well horses then will be in the Sunrise Beach Walk along the Assateague Beach front to the Holding Pens.  Saturday and Sunday the southern herds will be rounded up, checked and evaluated.  All foals will have their blood drawn and tested, so they will be able to be auctioned off on Thursday, the day after the Swim.  (One must have proof that any animal that crosses state lines is not carrying any contagious diseases - for those of you who plan to purchase a pony and take it home.)
   I usually go early in the morning of the swim, on foot, to the Swim area, and, once the ponies are ashore on Chincoteague, I hot-foot it back to Main Street , so I can watch the cowboys bring the ponies down the street to the Auction Pens at the Carnival Grounds.  If you want to avoid the crowds at the swim, stake out a good spot on Main Street early, so you can see the parade of ponies.  The food and drink stands at the Carnival will be open, and about an hour after the ponies arrive on the Grounds, the rides and games will open.  I particularly love the old ferris wheel - it's not huge, but it's a great ride after dark!
  *Sigh*  Wish I was there!

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