Chincoteague Ponies Delight in Annual Beach Walk

Silhouetted in the rising sun, Saltwater Cowboys escort Chincoteague ponies in the annual beach walk. Photo by Connie Morrison.

By Connie Morrison —

Silhouetted by the rising sun, and following a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the northern herd of Chincoteague’s famous ponies, marshaled by the stalwart Saltwater Cowboys, made its annual trek down the beach around 7 a.m. Monday.

The beach walk has become a favorite of visitors during Pony Penning week, as evidenced by the estimated thousands of spectators.

Marty and Amanda O’Bryan traveled from Kentucky to attend Pony Penning for the first time. They hope to take a Chincoteague pony home with them. “There’s just something special about them,” said Amanda O’Bryan. “They are smaller, less intimidating.” She hopes to use the pony for public outreach in an informal animal therapy-type program.

From the beach, the Saltwater Cowboys directed the ponies onto Beach Road toward the corral where the southern herd waited, along with more spectators.

(Click on any photo to start the photo gallery.)

The ponies rest Tuesday and on Wednesday will swim the Assateague Channel and parade through town to the carnival grounds, where they will stay for Thursday’s auction. Friday, the remaining ponies — including this year’s buyback foals — swim the channel back to Assateague Island.

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