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Chincoteague Island - 2013 Pony Swim Recap

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The 88th annual Chincoteague Pony Swim will be remembered by all who attended for a very long time. A rouge thunderstorm struck just as the Saltwater Cowboys were herding the famous Chincoteague Ponies into the water for the five minute swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island, drenching thousands of onlookers.

The Roundup...

As in year's past all of the approximately 130 adult ponies, along with their foals, were rounded up and corralled the weekend prior to Wednesday's Pony Swim. The southern herd was rounded up on Saturday and the northern herd on Sunday. During this time the ponies received veterinary care. On Monday morning the Saltwater Cowboy's moved the northern herd south, along the beach and ocean, to the southern corral in preparation for Wednesday's swim.

The Swim...

As usual the crowd began to assemble before daylight. It was to be a late swim, with slack tide not expected until around 11am. The day started with a beautiful sunrise. Clear skies and cooler than usual air ensued, making the wait pleasurable for the thousands of attendees. However, just as the Saltwater Cowboys were moving the herd toward the water skies to the west began to darken. The only thunderstorm on radar across the entire Delmarva Peninsula was bearing down on the Chincoteague Pony Swim. The thunderstorm struck just as the Saltwater Cowboys were herding the famous Chincoteague Ponies into the water for five minute swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island, drenching thousands of onlookers. The Ponies entered the water at slack tide as thunder boomed overhead and rain poured down. The Ponies took it all in stride, completing the five and a half minute swim with without issue. The first foal ashore was named King Neptune and his new owner, the winner of a raffle held by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, was announced that evening at the carnival grounds.

The Parade Down Main Street...

The storm was short-lived, and the sun was shining again by the time the Saltwater Cowboys, after letting the ponies rest for about 45 minutes, herded them down Pony Swim Lane, along Beebe Road, and then down Main Street. Enthusiastic crowds greeted them along the way. The Ponies were then herded into a large corral at the rear of the carnival grounds in preparation for the auction to be held the following day.

The Auction...

The amount of money raised at the 2013 auction was higher than recent years, despite only 55 foals being sold (compared to 67 last year and 68 the year before). This was due to some big price tags that were paid for buyback ponies. Buyback are returned to Assateague to live out its life there and replenish the herd. Eleven buyback ponies were sold at this year’s auction. Total sales were $113,975 with an average cost of $2,000.00, a high bid of $12,000, and a low bid $650.

Janet Marabito of Doylestwon, Pa. celebrated her 80th birthday the Monday after the auction. It was on her bucket list to come to Chincoteague and see the Pony Swim and auction. With that wish fulfilled, Marabito’s family went one better when her son, Mark Zebley, placed the winning bid on a buyback pony. At $12,000 it was the top priced paid at Thursday’s auction. The crowd cheered and gave Marabito a standing ovation, then sang “Happy Birthday” to her.

Another buyback pony was purchased for $4,600 by Frances Bidoglio who turned 100 the week after the auction. It was her 20th pony auction.

Sixty eight year old Catherine Young of New Jersey placed a $10,000 winning bid on a chestnut-and-white pinto filly. This was the second highest priced pony purchased at this year’s auction. Young also purchased the filly’s mother in 2001 as a buyback and named her Dakota Sky, then purchased Dakota Sky’s first foal in 2005.

Catherine Young with her second generation buyback purchase.
She purchased this foal’s mother in 2001.

Proceeds from the sale of one foal annually go to a regional charity. In years past, Wounded Warrior projects and Hospice and Palliative Care of the Eastern Shore received funding from the sale. This year, Alzheimer’s adult day in Worcester County, MD received the benefit.

2013 Feather Fund Winners...

The Feather Fund’s 2013 Pony Award winners were fourteen year old Annika Gerlach of Ohio and seventeen year old Micayla Morin of Michigan. The Feather Fund is a charity that was created to honor the memory of Carollynn Suplee, a woman who came to Chincoteague annually to help children buy ponies at the auction until she passed away from cancer in 2003. To learn more visit www.featherfund.org.

Pictured above are Annika and her new colt Chincoteague Beebe (left) and Micayla with her new colt Larkin (right).

The Swim Back To Assateague...

On Friday the Ponies swam back to Assateague, where they will live until next July when they once again make their annual trek to Chincoteague Island for the 89th Annual Pony Swim.

This article was published by Chincoteague.com on 10/26/2013.
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