The Chincoteague/Assateague is a feral pony that lives on the two islands off the Virginia and Maryland coast, with the majority of the population living on the wildlife refuge of Assateague island. The herds are managed by the Chincoteague fire department. The horses are rounded up once a year and swum to Chincoteague where some are sold at auction to raise funds for the fire department. The rest are released back onto the island.
The Chincoteague/Assateague stand about 12 hands high and come in all colors with pinto being the most common. Although the horse is a common pony, the build is that of a small horse of the light-weight type. Although generally known to be stubborn and intractable, it can be broken to make a good riding pony.
There is a bit of speculation to the ancestry of the Chincoteague and how it first arrived at the island. Although there is no evidence, it is said that a boat carrying Moorish ponies from North Africa to Peru was ship-wrecked near the island and the ponies swam to shore. Since humans discovered the ponies in the 1700's, there has been new blood introduced, namely Shetland and Welsh with, perhaps, Arabian being introduced much later.
On the last weekend in July the Chincoteague fire department rounds up the horses on Assateague and swims them across the quarter-mile channel between the islands. They are driven down Chincoteague's main street and into a pen where the foals are sold, the money going to maintaining the feral herd.
1. Spanish 2. Shetland Pony 3. Welsh Pony 4. Arabian
For more information:
The National Chincoteague Pony Association