Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Chincoteague Pony (Chincoteague)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Chincoteague Pony (also known as 'Assateague Pony') is a rare American pony breed, which is named after the island of Chincoteague where it originated. It is famous for the annual Pony Penning: an annual event where the ponies swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island.

Horses arrived at the island of Chincoteague in the 17th century, but the exact way in which they reached it is shrouded with mystery. According to one theory, a Spanish armada sank near Chincoteague, and the horses who were on it managed to swim to the island. However, as thrilling as this story is, there isn't much evidence to support it.

According to historical evidence, the settlers who colonized North America in the 17th century faced a problem: their horses, who roamed free, ruined their crops. Therefore, a law was passed to force colonists to fence-in their horses. Because fencing is expensive, some colonists decided to move their horses to the nearby Chincoteague and Assateague Islands, and let them graze there freely. Over the next centuries, the harsh conditions in both islands shaped the horses into the smaller pony that we know today as the Chincoteague Pony.

While living on the little islands, the ponies developed two unique abilities. First, they became able to drink the salty seawater in limited amounts. Second, they became able to survive on foods that other breeds could not survive on, such as algae. These two unique abilities played a key role in the survival of the ponies.

Starting from 1925, a major event started to take place annually on the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague: the 'Pony Penning,' also known as the 'Pony Swim.' During this event, the ponies from Assateague Island are herded into the Assateague Channel, and swim to a nearby Chincoteague Island. There, the ponies are penned and auctioned. While today this famous event is what makes the Chincoteague breed stand out, it wasn't always the case, and it was another event that brought the Chincoteague Pony the fame that it enjoys today.

The breakthrough of the Chincoteague breed happened in 1947, when a writer called Marguerite Henry published a book titled 'Misty of Chincoteague.' The book tells about Paul and Maureen; two orphans who managed to buy and train a wild Chincoteague mare called Phantom, and her filly called Misty. This popular book drew attention to the real Chincoteague breed, as well as to the annual Pony Penning event.

Chincoteague ponies are smart ponies with good endurance, and serve primarily as mounts for children, both for leisure riding as well as for competitive events.

Chincoteague ponies come in a large variety of colors, and can have either a solid or a pinto coat. They stand between 12hh and 14.2hh.


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