Oldest Chincoteague Pony, Wild Thing, Dies At 25 Years Old

“He has crossed the rainbow bridge and joined the big herd in the sky.”

Chincoteague pony WILD THING

Cowboy Cruise Company

Assateague Island is mourning the loss of its oldest equine resident, a Chincoteague pony known as Wild Thing. 

The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company announced last week that the 25-year-old wild pony had “joined the big herd in the sky.”

“In 25 years he fathered many many foals… He was also a constant sight for many boat tours that traveled to his home territory to see the ponies,” the volunteer fire company wrote on Facebook. “Wild Thing’s herd was out more than any other group in Virginia most of the time. He has crossed the rainbow bridge and joined the big herd in the sky, we are thankful for his service to us and the rest of the herd.”

For nearly 100 years, spectators from all over the country have gathered to watch Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company’s annual Pony Swim. In this unique aquatic field trip, "Saltwater Cowboys" round up the wild horses on Assateague Island and guide them across a small channel to the town of Chincoteague where some of the foals are auctioned off.

“Wild Thing was known as the ‘Popes Island Stud’ by cowboys because nearly every roundup he would be on his own island where he stayed almost all year and our boat crews would have to walk the entire island to get him to swim back to Assateague, it usually held up the roundups quite a bit,” the volunteer fire company continued. 

The famous swim serves two purposes: to raise money for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department, and to thin the herd enough to ensure that their island home can continue to sustain them. A handful of foals known as “buybacks” are then returned to Assateague Island to help sustain and replenish the herd. Many of Wild Thing’s foals became buybacks. 

Rest in peace, Wild Thing.

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