On Wednesday (29 July) the 84th annual pony swim will take place on the island of Chincoteague, which is part of the Accomack County in Virginia, USA.
The swim is the highlight of the island’s annual “Pony Penning” event, during which the wild horses resident on the Assateague Island are rounded up for an internationally recognised auction.
“Salt water cowboys” herd the ponies across the narrowest part of the Assateague channel to Chincoteague, whereupon, following a veterinary examination, they are driven through the town into a corral at the Carnival Grounds for an auction the next day.
The ponies were initially transferred across the channel by boat, but in 1925 they were swum across, marking the beginning of a much-loved tradition. The Chincoteague ponies became legendary following Marguerite Henry’s 1947 book ‘Misty of Chincoteague’, which was released as a film in 1961. As such, the event now attracts tens of thousands of spectators to the island.
Following tradition, the first colt or filly to come ashore on Wednesday will be dubbed King or Queen Neptune, and given away to a lucky ticket-holder on carnival grounds. Some 70 to 80 foals will be sold in an auction the next day to raise funds for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.