Has it always been a dream of yours to see the infamous Chincoteague Pony Auction? For many horse lovers and fans of Misty of Chincoteague, this event is something they’ve pictured hundreds of times. If the same goes for you, it is time to start thinking about planning your trip!
This July will mark the 88th year of the pony swim. Tens of thousands of spectators from around the world will gather on our little Island to watch this annual tradition. In this blog, we are going to give you some advice for when you attend.
July 20 & 21: The Pony Round-Up
The weekend prior to Wednesday’s Pony Swim, the “Saltwater Cowboys” – the fellas that drive the ponies across the water on horseback – will begin rounding up the approximately 150 wild ponies that live on Assateague Island. The smaller herd of about 50 ponies reside on the southern end of Assateague Island and are herded into a large corral on that end of the island. The larger heard of about 100 ponies reside further north on the Assateague Island and will be herded into a corral on that end. The ponies can be viewed by the public in the southern corral, which is located on Assateague, just off the road that leads to the beach.
July 22: Merging the Herds
On Monday at day break, the Saltwater Cowboys will move the northern herd out of the corral and out onto the beachfront, pressing them south to join the smaller herd in the southern corral. To see this part of the penning, be at the Assateague Beach by 6 a.m.
July 24: The Pony Swim
On Wednesday, July 24th, the Saltwater Cowboys will drive the ponies from Assateague to Chincoteague Island. The swim takes place at “slack tide,” which is a period of about 30 minutes between tides. There is little or no current, making it easy for even the smallest foals to cross the water. The time of slack tide varies each year, however, the swim generally takes place some time between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. The specific time will be announced the week of the swim.
The Chincoteague Ponies will swim across the Assateague Channel, just south of Memorial Park (7427 Memorial Park Dr.) on the east side of Chincoteague Island. There is no charge to see the ponies swim. However, the only parking at Memorial Park is designated for handicap use. Guests at the Inn may catch a shuttle bus near our Chincoteague lodging. We recommend getting started early on this day and to anticipate a heavy crowd. Click here to view the shuttle bus map. The best way to see the pony swim up close is on a Charter Boat. However, spots on these boats for the pony swim are in very high demand, so be sure to reserve your spot at least several months in advance.
Speaking of reservations in advance, all of the rooms at Miss Molly’s Inn are booked for the Pony Penning this year, but our sister bed and breakfast, Island Manor Inn, still has several rooms available!
We hope to see you this summer – make a dream come true!