Monday, September 17, 2012

Chincoteague ponies

When I was seven, my dreams were filled with Chincoteague ponies.
I couldn't imagine anything more exciting than visiting Chincoteague Island in July and attending the annual Pony Penning festivities.
I longed to watch the ponies swim across the channel...
and I fantasized about attending the auction and buying a Chincoteague pony of my very own.
Unfortunately, Chincoteague Island was a long way from my California home.  Even in my most optimistic moments, I realized that this particular dream was probably beyond my grasp.  Eventually I moved on to other--more accessible--equine obsessions.  

Some twenty years later, five month old Ryan and I flew out to Maryland to visit my sister, Colleen.  Since we grew up in the same house, Colleen knew all about my childhood Chincoteague obsession.  She informed me that Chincoteague was just one hundred and forty miles from her front door.  If I was interested, she'd be willing to drive me there.

I was definitely interested.
It took us three hours to get to the islands, and nearly that long to find a single pony.  We looked in the marshes,
 we looked by the lighthouse,
 and we looked on the beach.
We dipped Ryan's toes in the ocean and I tried my best to enjoy the fine weather.  It was hard, though.  I kept thinking, "How awful would it be if I waited twenty years to go to Assateague and didn't see a single pony?"
We continued to look and finally our persistence was rewarded.  
We watched and waited and slowly but surely those ponies began to drift closer...
and closer! 
I would have been happy to stay there and watch them all day, but the hour was growing late and we still had another long drive ahead of us.  
We headed back to the car, and wouldn't you know, now the ponies were everywhere!
They were on the road and...
they were next to the road.
In fact, the entire drive off the island was one big pony siting!
Sigh.  If only we could have stayed longer!
Obviously, this was not the Chincoteague Island vacation I dreamed of as a kid, but it was satisfying nonetheless.  Hopefully, I'll return again someday, and if that happens, you can bet I'll schedule a much longer trip!


  1. Is that an egret sitting on a pony? Very cool.

  2. Sounds like a great sister trip and an upcoming friend vacation!

  3. Brings back memories for me too.. of the movie about Misty :-)

  4. My family and I went on some vacation within an hour or 2 of chincoteague one year. It was the weekend of the pony penning too. I was probably 9 or 10 and I remember actually getting on my knees and begging to go. We didn't. I don't think I talked to my parents the rest of the trip lol.

  5. I'm so glad you got to do that! :-)

    Sorry, I'm going to have inject another travelogue here again. I, too, adored Misty/the ponies/the mystique of the island and positively LONGED to go there. However, I did have one super-cool thing going for me: my favorite (and everyone else's favorite) mount at my lesson barn was Little John, an genuine Chincoteague pony! (I've written more about him w/ photos here:

    Unlike you I wasn't all the way across the country, just in NJ, so I finally went to Chincoteague with the family when I was about nine or 10. It was for Pony Penning. Unfortunately, we arrived too late to see the swim. I was pretty bummed about that but at least I got to see the ponies up close and personal in their enclosure. A little TOO personal, in fact: a stallion was breeding a mare when we walked up. My parents yanked us kids away in a hurry, LOL! We also did not stay for the auction, which broke my little heart, as you can imagine... I'm sure I was not trusted to be quiet. I had hoped against hope that maybe the 'rents could be persuaded that now would be a great time to acquire my longed-for equine, but not the case. I still think a foal would have fit nicely in the back of our station wagon.

    I have been back one more time, on a trip with the hubby shortly after we were married. We ate the BEST soft-shelled crab sandwiches in the world at some little shack in Chincoteague, and then spent a couple hours on the Assateague beach. I actually got to pet a pony who wandered up to investigate our picnic. Not technically allowed, but hey. Incidentally, I've been on many beaches in my day, including HI, but Assateague still stands out as the most beautiful of them all. It's a magical place, ponies or not!

  6. I wish that Chincoteauge and Assateague were closer to where my husband is stationed in Petersburg, VA. Unfortunately, they are a 2.5 hour drive away, which probably means we won't get to visit.

  7. Wow! I bet that was so awesome.
    Misty was one of my first Breyers. :)