Chincoteague Pony Swim 2023

Thousands of people gathered to watch the Chincoteague wild ponies make their annual trek across the Assateague Channel.

The tradition in its 98th year includes Wednesday’s swim and an auction Thursday, the biggest annual fundraiser for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which manages the wild pony herd. The horses were made famous in the 1947 classic children’s novel “Misty of Chincoteague” by author Marguerite Henry.

A chestnut-colored filly, No. 70, was crowned Queen Neptune as the first pony to complete the swim, according to The Daily Times.

“Saltwater cowboys” on horseback round up ponies, who swim the Assateague Channel and come ashore on the east side of Chincoteague Island. Foals are auctioned off to help control the size of the herd, although a few are designated to return to Assateague Island to remain and help replenish the herd.