Wild horses…just like that Rolling Stones song!

wild ponies
Credit: Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce and Certified Visitor Center

For the 92nd year in a row, thousands of visitors looked on as 150 wild ponies swam across the narrow stretch of sea that separates two of Virginia's barrier islands.

On Wednesday, the ponies took part in a one-of-a-kind adventure, the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim, part of a week-long Pony Penning and Carnival. Spectators from all over the country watched as a team of "Saltwater Cowboys" rounded up the famous horses and ushered them across a small channel from their home on Assateague Island to the town of Chincoteague.

Once they came ashore on Chincoteague, the ponies were paraded to the carnival grounds, where the foals were auctioned off. This unique aquatic field trip 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. The ponies that don't get auctioned off, make the journey back home the same way they came.

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The popular tourist event was first made famous by Marguerite Henry's 1947 book Misty of Chincoteague, which was turned into a movie in 1961.

Thinking of adding the Chincoteague Pony Swim to your bucket list? Visit Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce's website for more information.