Here we are, basking in summer once again and that can only mean one thing: it’s Chincoteague Island Pony Swim time again – July 25 – 30, 2015!
Chincoteague Island is memorable and famous for lots of things but nothing tops the iconic and unforgettable spectacle of the Chincoteague Island Pony Swim. Watching all those beautiful wild ponies and their slender foals swimming the sea crossing between Assateague Island and Chincoteague Island is something you wont soon forget.
Now in it’s 90th year, the Chincoteague Island Pony Swim’s main purpose is the Chincoteague Island Pony Auction. The two separate herds of ponies on Assateague Island are rounded up and moved to Chincoteague Island for a health check and auction each year. Here’s how the schedule breaks down:
July 25th and 26th – The Pony Round Up
Chincoteague Island’s “Saltwater Cowboys” will round up Assateague Island’s two herds of approximately 150 wild ponies. The southern herd of around 50 horses will be herded into the southern corral on Saturday afternoon while the northern herd of around 100 ponies will go into its corral Sunday morning. The southern corral can be visited by the public, just off the road that leads to the beach on Assateague Island.
July 27th – The Beach Walk
Monday morning at dawn, the Saltwater Cowboys will walk the ponies of the northern herd south along the beach to join with the ponies in the southern corral. Spectators hoping to see this awesome sight are encouraged to be on to be on Assateague Beach by 6am.
July 29 – The Pony Swim
The main event! The swim takes place at “slack tide” – a 30 minute period between tides when there is no current. As the time of slack tide varies each year, the swim can only be generally said to occur sometime between 7am and 1pm in the months prior to the event. The actual time will be announced the week of the swim. The first foal to come ashore is named King or Queen Neptune and given away in a raffle held at the carnival later that day. Tickets for the raffle are sold every night at the carnival and in the Pony Swim crowd prior to the swim. Raffle ticket holders must be present to win.
July 29 – Parade To Carnival Grounds
The ponies get a 45 minute rest after the swim, then the Saltwater Cowboys parade the ponies down Chincoteague Island’s Main Street to the carnival grounds for Thursday morning’s auction.
July 30 – The Pony Auction
The auction begins at 8am. The Chincoteague Island Pony Auction serves numerous purposes: controlling the size of the herd, raising funds for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company – aka the Saltwater Cowboys, as well as raising money to provide veterinary care for the ponies for the next year.
July 31 – The Pony Swim Back to Assateague
The Saltwater Cowboys lead the adult ponies on the return swim back to their respective locations on Assateague Island for another year of wild freedom.
And that, in a nutshell, is the Chincoteague Island Pony Swim. Don’t forget about the Chincoteague Fireman’s Carnival – rides, games, raffles, and delicious food! – that is open each night of the Pony Swim week, 7pm.
90th Annual Chincoteague Island Pony Swim
July 25th through the 31st, 2015
This is but a short overview of the annual Chincoteague Island Pony Swim – for more details about the Pony Swim and Pony Auction be sure to visit: www.chincoteague.com
Chincoteague Island Pony Swim Lodging
Thousands of people come from all over the world to witness the Chincoteague Island Pony Swim – to assure your place among the crowd, it is good to book your lodging NOW while you still can – and what better place to stay than at a historic inn on Chincoteague Island, itself? Stay at 1848 Island Manor House Bed and Breakfast during the Chincoteague Island Pony Swim – or during any Virginia Coast vacation – and enjoy the comfort, luxury, and daily gourmet breakfast that is our signature and pride!