Delmarva's Crown Jewel: The Chincoteague Pony Swim - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delmarva's Crown Jewel: The Chincoteague Pony Swim

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CHINCOTEAGUE, Va.- Approximately 150 wild adult ponies and 66 foals swam across the Assateague Channel Wednesday morning.

The Chincoteague Pony Swim is a day hundreds from all over come to watch and on Wednesday, the 92nd annual event started a little earlier than usual.

People began filling the marshland, docks and boats at around 6 a.m. But, organizer Denise Bowden said the early start time didn't stop people from coming out to enjoy the view.

"When you were born and raised here and doing this your whole life and you see those people out there, they choose to come here to spend their vacations, spend their time, spend their money with you and you make some little girl's dream come true by seeing that pony and all these ponies come to shore...there's just nothing like it my heart swells," Bowden said. 

Bowden said the pony swim was so early this year because they needed to accommodate slack tide.

Slack tide is a period of about 30 minutes when there is no current in the channel. This is the easiest and safest time for the ponies to swim across the channel.

But, saltwater cowboys said they didn't mind grabbing an extra cup of coffee this morning to make this event happen. 

Bennett Bowden said, "We had to wait till it got daylight we got up at 3 o'clock this morning to get our horses ready and everything and the tide was early that's why we had to go early. But other than that we just saddle them up and go."

While it has become a tradition for 92 years, the event does serve a much larger purpose.

After the ponies make the swim across the channel to Chincoteague, some are auctioned off which in turn, helps maintain the size of the herd. In addition, the money that is raised from the auction goes to the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department.

After all the proceeds are collected, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company uses some money for their needs but also puts money towards veterinary care for the ponies that return back to Assateague.

Click here to watch WBOC's footage of Wednesday's pony swim. 

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