Drinking fresh water from ponds and eating marsh grasses, the Chincoteague ponies call the Assateague Island their home. You may be familiar with this famous breed because of Marguerite Henry’s novel, ‘Misty of Chincoteague’. There’s a lot more to these beach dwellers though!

1. These ponies weren’t an official breed until 1985! Their breed registry, the National Chincoteague Pony Association, allows those bred on farms and on the island to be registered.

2. The Assateague Island is split between Maryland and Virginia. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company manages a herd of these ponies on the Virginia side, while the National Park Service manages a Maryland herd. A fence separates the two.

3. Each year the ponies are rounded up and must swim across the channel to be auctioned off. This famous Pony Swim event helps to keep the population in check.

4. The Maryland herd is controlled with the use of contraceptive vaccines. The mares are selected each spring and a dart used to target them. The Virginia side uses the Pony Swim and auction.

5. These ponies are usually between 12 and 13 hands. Overall, they’re stocky, have round bellies, thick manes, and short legs. Their bellies appear bloated because of the amount of water they must consume. The grass they eat has a very high salt content, which makes them drink more than average horses.

You learn something new everyday! Are any of these facts new to you? Check out: The Saltwater Ponies for more cool tidbits on this amazing breed.