Thursday, April 6, 2017

Spring Pony Round-Up - April 7 & 8

The world famous Chincoteague ponies will have one of their three annual round-ups this Friday and Saturday.  The ponies, made famous in Marguerite Henry's book, Misty of Chincoteague, which 20th Century Fox made into a movie in 1960 (released in 1961) titled "Misty,"  live year round on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the barrier island of Assateague, in the state of Virginia.
   The island of Assateague is 33 miles long, and is located in both the state of Maryland and the state of Virginia.  All of Assateague Island is a designated National Seashore - and ponies roam free in both states on the island.  The ponies in Maryland, on the northern end of the island, are completely feral and receive no medical care - other than the females receiving contraception darts each year, to prevent over-breeding, which would lead to over-grazing, which would lead to a starvation death.
   The ponies on the southern end of Assateague are another story.  They are actually owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, they receive veterinarian care, are fed hay in snow storms, have firemen chop away ice at water holes when they freeze over during the winter, and are rounded up for care three times a year.  Other than the week of Pony Penning, which occurs during the last Wednesday and Thursday in July, the ponies have free range in the north and south compartments of the Virginia section of Assateague.
   Each pony is checked by veteran horsemen and a licensed local veterinarian (and his technicians), they receive their annual shots and have their blood taken to test for diseases.  Hoofs are trimmed, if needed, teeth are floated (filed) if needed.  Every single known pony will be checked out, and looked for, if missing.
   So far, as of 9 p.m. Mountain Time tonight, April 5, there are four new 2017 foals in the herds.  All four are sired by Tornado's Legacy, a buckskin pinto stallion.  There are three fillies and one colt.  Suede, a first-time mother in Riptide's herd, produced a handsome sorrel colt, allowed him to nurse and then abandoned him.  The CVFC had a mini-round-up, got the mare and foal back together, and trailered them to a farm for bonding and better growth.  The colt passed away after 4 days, even though he was nursing and looked well.
    The northern herds on the Virginia end of Assateague will be rounded up, examined, vaccinated and released on Friday, 7 April.  The southern herds will be rounded up and processed on Saturday, April 8th.  On Saturday, also, the nearly yearlings who spent the winter at the Chincoteague Carnival Grounds will be checked over and then released onto Assateague until the summer round-up and swim.
   This year, the Annual Pony Swim and Auction will take place on July 26 and 28. The Saltwater Cowboys will begin rounding-up the ponies on Saturday, July 22.  They will all be checked and vetted.  On Wednesday, the combined herds will swim the Assateague Channel (at slack tide) from Assateague to Chincoteague.  Thursday morning, the foals will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  A few foals will be designated "Buy Backs", and they will be announced before the bidding begins.  A Buy Back foal can be purchased by anyone - but they leave the foal in perpetual care of the CFVC  for breeding purposes.  If you purchase a Buy Back, you receive your bill of sale, you get to name the foal, and you get to have your photo taken with the foal.  That's it - other than being able to visit the baby as it grows through the years, at Round-ups, and seeing what babies it produces as an adult.  If you purchase a non-Buy Back foal, you must make arrangements to have it trailered to your home - you can't put the baby into the back of a pick-up truck, or an SUV.  It must travel in a stock or horse trailer.....     But that's several months in the future at the moment.

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