Thursday, July 31, 2003

It ain't Blair's Diving Mules

...but it's not bad. Chincoteague, Virginia held their annual pony swim yesterday. The herd of ponies live on an island just off the coast of Virginia, and once a year are rounded up and make the short swim to the mainland.

From the article:
Yearlings and younger will be auctioned Thursday to thin the herd and raise money for the island's volunteer fire department, which cares for the ponies.

Ponies that aren't sold, as well as those that are donated back to the fire department, will swim back Friday to roam free for another year on a national wildlife refuge on Assateague.

This year's swim was the 78th orchestrated by the fire company, with "saltwater cowboys" — firefighters on horseback — driving the ponies into the water.

The ponies have lived on Assateague for many years, although no one really knows how they got there. One theory is that Colonial settlers hid their horses on the island to avoid paying taxes on livestock. A more romantic version is that the original ponies survived a Spanish galleon wreck.

This is one of those interesting little local traditions that you find all over the country.