135 Ponies Swim To Chincoteague Island - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

135 Ponies Swim To Chincoteague Island

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CHINCOTEAGUE ISLAND, Va. – One-hundred and thirty-five beautiful wild ponies made their way across the Assateague Channel to Chincoteague Island for the 89th annual Pony Swim!

"You will never see this anywhere else in the whole United States, and probably in the world!" public information officer for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Co. Denise Bowden said.

This year, approximately 40,000 people from all the across the country converged on the marshes of Chincoteague, trudging through icky, gooey, muddy waters, to get as close as they can to witness the highly anticipated swim.

More than 40 firefighters from across the region saddled up, herding the animals and guiding them through the waters.

"Somebody, somewhere back in the 1970's, nicknamed them "Saltwater Cowboys," and it has stuck ever since," Bowden said.

And in the race to get to the other side, the first pony to make it ashore was dubbed King or Queen Neptune!

"I thought it was amazing," Lauren Dastous of Massachusetts said.

"Well, before they swam, I was like sweating to death. I was like, ‘oh my gosh, let this be over.' But watching them come up from the water, it was all worth it," Jocelyn Ferguson of Miami, Fla. said.

The Saltwater Cowboys then took them through the streets, parading through the crowds and leading them to the carnival grounds, where dozens will be auctioned off the next day.

For Laurie Achey, the experience was like none other, to say the least.

"I am a city girl! Do you notice the socks? Those are city socks! I don't do outdoors at all. My girlfriend does horses. So she brought me here today, walked me through the swamps, made me use a porta potty. Ah, you know it's endless!" she said.

But it was a ride well worth it.

"We had anxiety waiting for the horses, and then when they started coming, and you know, everybody starts making noise, then they get on shore -- it was just a whole roller coaster of emotions. So it was fun. It was beautiful. The horses were absolutely gorgeous," she said.

The pony auction begins Thursday morning at 8 a.m. All proceeds will go to the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. Last year, the auction raised over $100,000.

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