Chincoteague Pony Auction Raises Funds for Herd Health

This year's Chincoteague Pony swim and auction raised $94,100 for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department. Approximately 150 ponies were rounded up yesterday for today's annual sale, the proceeds of which are used to help maintain the wild herd and run the fire department.

This year, bidders bought 70 ponies at an average price of $1,344.29, according to Suzanne Taylor, executive director of the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce. The highest price paid was $11,700, for a male. The pony was purchased as a buy back, meaning the bidder released him back to the island, but donated the sale money to the fire department.

Pony round-up

Approximately 150 ponies were rounded up for the annual sale.

The herd's health was very good, according to Taylor. "They are taken care of by vets before, during, and after," she said. "Everything done here is for the safety of the ponies and people."

Earlier in the week, organizers were worried about storms, but the weather held out for the swim and auction, according to Taylor.

The ponies will leave their pen in Chincoteague tomorrow at 11 a.m. and swim back across the channel to Assateague Island around noon.

The wild ponies are believed to be descendants of survivors from a Spanish shipwreck. Since 1925, the fire department has rounded them up to swim across the channel from Assateague Island to Chincoteague, and auctioned some of the herd to raise money for firefighting equipment.

In 1947 Marguerite Henry made the ponies famous with her children's novel Misty of Chincoteague.

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Liz Brown

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