Captive "Wild" Pony at the Pony Center in Chincoteague, VA
Photo by CTmom
On our way from St. Micheals to Avon we decided to drive the eastern shore and pass through all those islands separating Virginia from the Atlantic. We decided to spend the night in Chincoteague and site see a little.
In case you weren't aware, Chincoteague is the host of an annual Pony Swim and auction which is a fund raiser for the local fire department. Every year, the healthiest wild ponies are rounded up on the island of Assateague and made to swim a very short distance to the island of Chincoteague were zillions of people come to watch and then purchase the ponies.
What these people do with a wild pony is anyone's guess. I suppose the put them out to pasture. I suspect that many of these "wild" ponies are a little more tame than wild so maybe they make nice pets.
View from Assateague LightHouse,
photo by CTDad
Needless to say, the pony theme runs rampant in the town. The local businesses and government milk it for all it's worth. I happen to like ponies so I didn't really mind. The real wild ponies reside on a Federal Nature Reserve on the island of Assateague. On our way to the reserve we asked Holly to count all the ponies she could see (meaning pony signs). She was getting restless in the car so we thought a fun counting activity would keep her happy. Subconsciously, I had begun counting as well. When we got to the bridge over the channel separating Chinc from Ass I asked Holly how many ponies she counted. She said two. I had counted at least 30 so I was surprised her keen eyes only counted two. I questioned her further and discovered that she thought she was supposed to be counting REAL ponies and that she saw two at McDonalds.
Yes folks... even the local McDonalds is in on the pony action.
Another captive "wild" pony in Chincoteague, VA
Photo by CTmom
We paid our car fee and entered the park. We saw a nice old lighthouse, drove to the Assateague beach and searched for real wild ponies. I half expected to see them all over the place, like heards of deer in the Shenandoah. We didn't see a single one. They had a nice welcome center and museum.
Disappointed we decided to head over to the Pony Center which is a gift shop/pony stable in Chincoteague. There we saw several captive wild ponies. All of them supposedly descended from the famed Misty. After seeing the ponies at the pony center, I have to say I'm glad we didn't run into any of them in the wild while walking in the park because teeny cutie pie ponies they are not. They're friggin' huge!!! Small horses, really. Definitely ridable... (Is ridable a word?)
We then realized that we were hot and starving and decided to try out an ice cream place I visited as a teen.
We eat got a cone of fab home made ice cream at the Island Creamery. The wait was rather long but soooo worth it.
Photo by CTmom
Finally we decided that we were not leaving Chincoteague without first seeing a wild pony, in the wild. We drove to the park where the ponies arrive after the swim. With the binoculars we scanned the Assateague coast line and there they were. Running wild.. the very large ponies/small horses. We left happy.
ETA.. Don't forget your mosquito repellent!!!