Monday, July 23, 2018

Pony Penning Week Activities Through 28 July 2018

This is actually the third day of Pony Penny Week activities on Chincoteague and Assateague Islands in Virginia.  And today, the fun and sun and sand stuff will begin by 6 o'clock this morning...  The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge will open its gates at 5, so folks can be in place along the North Beach to see the annual Dawn Beach Walk.  The Saltwater Cowboys will have their mounts trailered over to the North Holding Pens, and will drive the combined northern herds down Assateague Beach to the CNWR beach parking lot, and then west along Beach Road to the Southern Holding Pens.  There will be fights between the stallions as the northern herds are combined with the southern herds inside the corrals...
  On Saturday evening, sometimes in a driving rain, the Saltwater Cowboys rounded up the five distinct southern groups - Surfer's Riptide and his mares and foals; Maverick with his harem and progeny; Don Leonard Stud II and his ladies; "the '17's," the group of Buy-Back fillies and colts from last year; and "the Misty's," a small cadre of donated mares that are related to Misty of Chincoteague.  All ponies known to be in the southern compound were brought in.
  Sunday, the Saltwater Cowboys had to cover a much larger territory and gather up the herds on the northern end.  These included the herds of:  Chief Golden Eagle, Prince of Tides, Neptune (aka Little Dolphin), Rainbow Warrior, Hoppy (aka Effie's Poppa Bear), Ajax, Puzzle (aka Archer's Gambit), Ace (Ace's Black Tie Affair), Wild Thing, Ken and Tornado's Legacy.
   Already at the Carnival Grounds pens are:  Bay Girl with her adopted mystery colt; Lyra's Vega, who is recovering from a badly cut fetlock; and Saltwater Renegade (aka Beach Boy), who is there to keep the ladies company.  We have lost three of sixty-three foals born this year - for ponies that run wild, that's a very low mortality rate. One was seen soon after birth and was never seen again; Bay Girl's foal did not thrive and passed away, while both were under veterinary care; and Poco's Starry Night's black filly disappeared after 1 July.   The mystery foal was spotted trying to nurse and attach himself to a mare who was still pregnant; he was brought to the Carnival Grounds and was bottle-fed until Bay Girl's colt died.  Then the little pinto colt was adopted by the bay mare who still had lots of milk and love to give...
   Once all the ponies are in the Holding pens on Beach Road and settled in, the Saltwater Cowboys, the Pony Committee of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, and the CFVC veterinarian, Dr. Charles Cameron (and his associate veterinarians and vet technicians) will check every equine entity in the corrals.  This will occur Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.  All foals will have their blood drawn and tested for communicable diseases, so their traveling papers and health certificates will be available on Thursday after the Pony Auction for the new owners.   Dr. Cameron will decide which ponies should not swim across Assateague Channel at slack tide Wednesday morning - this usually includes Unci, whose genetic sway back makes swimming long distances difficult for her - and those ponies and/or foals will be trailered to the Carnival Grounds on Chincoteague.
  Wednesday morning, between 8 and 10 o'clock, the US Coast Guard will send up a red flare to indicate slack tide - an interval when the tide is running neither north or south, which can sweep the ponies away from their swim arrival spot.  Earlier, the Salwater Cowboys will have rounded up all of the ponies from the holding pens and driven them west on Beach Road until they reach Black Duck Marsh, where they will cross over to Old Dominion Point.  There, they will rest the ponies and allow them to graze until the flare goes up.  Then the ponies will be herded into the Assateague Channel to swim over to Chincoteague Island.  ** The Pony Swim will have live streaming footage on Facebook via WBOC-TV, Channel 16, from Salisbury, Maryland. **  Once the ponies have made the crossing, they will be allowed to rest for 45 to 60 minutes and then once again will be on the move - going along Beebe Road to Main Street and then north to the pens at the Carnival Grounds.
   Thursday morning, the Pony Auction will begin at 8 o'clock.  The price for a pony can be as low as $400, or as high as $25,000.  The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company accepts cash, traveler's checks, Visa and MasterCard.  Personal checks or other types of credit cards are NOT accepted.  -  And, if you purchase a pony (other than a Buy Back), it must be removed from the Carnival Grounds by 5 pm Friday.  If you plan to purchase a pony, make sure you have your travel arrangements for it made ahead of time.  You CANNOT take it a foal home inside your van, SUV, or station wagon.
   Friday morning is the swim back to freedom, from Chincoteague to Assateague.  The viewing crowd is greatly diminished.  The ponies living on the southern end of the island make the swim back.  The herds from the northern end are trailered back, so they do not have to cross Beach Road on Assateague, impeding traffic and possibly being struck by a car.
   23 July through 28 July, Monday through Saturday evenings, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company's Carnival is open from 7 until 11 o'clock.  Sandwiches, pizza, fries, funnel cakes, drinks, music, bingo, and rides are available.  Go and enjoy a small town event!

No comments: