Sunday, July 29, 2018

Strangest Pony Swim Back to Assateague So Far

Well, the 93rd Annual Pony Penning may go into the record books as the strangest so far....  All of the southern herd ponies were rounded up on Saturday, 21 July, during intermittent rain showers, some quite heavy.  On Sunday, all of the northern herd ponies were brought in - except BlingBling and her bay colt by Chief.  She and the foal evaded the Saltwater Cowboys for the next two days, too.  On Tuesday, all the ponies, except the two missing just named, received their vet checks and the foals had their blood drawn for transportation certifications.
   The strangeness first appeared on Wednesday, near the end of the Pony Swim.  Last year, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company was gifted seven Chincoteague ponies, who's pedigrees go back to the original Misty of Chincoteague.  Four were adult mares, and there were three yearlings, two fillies and a colt.  They were originally kept at the Carnival Grounds, but were released on Assateague during the Spring Round-Up in April.  The last group of ponies to enter the water for the swim from Assateague to Chincoteague on Wednesday were the four donated mares, and the foal of Suzy's Sweetheart and Riptide, who had attached himself to the mares before the swim began.  The four mares turned back to Assateague multiple times, refusing to swim (and, having never made the swim before), and finally escaped through the Saltwater Cowboys back on Assateague.  The problem was that Suzy's Sweetheart's colt was also with them.  The Cowboys rounded him up separately and took him across the Channel by barge, to reunite him with his mother.  The mare most upset by this was not Suzy's Sweetheart, but was Sonny's Legacy.  Odd.
   Thursday afternoon, the freak accident involving Butterfly Kisses happened.  As soon as she was removed, all of her herd-mates and her stallion, Riptide, were taken by trailer back to Assateague.
   On Friday, the herd of Ace and DLSII, along with most of the yearlings were herded back to Pony Swim Lane to swim back to Assateague.  Along the way, three of the ponies cut out of the herd and ran into a yard, and three Saltwater Cowboys went after them.  One of the Cowboys' horses slipped on the cement footpath of the yard, and fell, falling on the rider.  The entire group halted while the Cowboy was assessed, and taken away by ambulance. (He had scrapes and bruises and required stitches to his head, but was released in a few hours.) The group started back to do the swim.  The Cowboys cracked their whips and shouted to get the ponies started back across, once the Coast Guard sent up the flare for slack tide.  The ponies plunged into the Channel and started swimming; in the lead was a group of nine, including Taco, Pixie Dust and Goldie.  The rest of the mares were behind Ace, along with Taco's filly, who is a Fall Pick-Up foal.  The foal started to struggle with her swimming - and Ace stayed right beside her.  She started swimming in the wrong direction - back to Chincoteague - and Ace and all the other ponies followed her.  Since the filly was clearly in difficulty, she was helped back to shore and placed in a boat to ride across to Assategue and rejoin her Mom, who was grazing there.  But then the Saltwater Cowboys could not convince Ace or any of the other ponies to enter the water again to swim back to freedom.  After 30 minutes, the tide began to flow again, and it was decided to trailer all of the remaining ponies back to Assateague.
   As I said, a strange three days....
And, as stated above, the Pony Committee switched two herds around.  Ace is back south, while Maverick is now north....    We'll see what happens in the future, as the island tides turn.

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