3. Visit Assateague to see the Wild Ponies
For those who are unaware, there are feral ponies that live on Assateague Island, a barrier Island on the Eastern Shore of Virginia/Maryland. Legend has it that these ponies settled on the island after a shipwreck in the 1600s. You might’ve heard about these ponies after reading “Misty of Chincoteague” in elementary school. See below, I’m with the legendary Misty, who is now stuffed and on display at the Chicoteague Island Museum. I almost failed fourth grade because I failed to turn in this book report, but I won’t hold it against Misty.
Every year on the Virginia side on the last week of July, the ponies are rounded up and make the journey over to Chincoteague Island through the water. It’s a longstanding tradition and a humongous spectacle with thousands of people watching their crossing. Once the ponies are on Chincoteague, they parade through the town, get medical treatment, and as a means of population control, some are auctioned off. The remaining ponies then go back to Assateague where they hang out in the wild until the next pony penning.
In a dream world, in which I am comfortable around large crowds, I might be interested in actually seeing the penning, but I don’t like crowds, so I made the four-hour journey to Chincoteague by myself during a slower weekend and booked a sunset kayaking trip with the Asssateague Explorer, which offers a journey through the salty marshes and views of the ponies.
After a few miles through the marshes, the horse scent hit like a brick. We got as close as we could. My photos don’t do it justice.
We parked our kayaks on the shore and watched them for a period of time. I could see the babies walking alongside the moms. It was so awesome.
Then, on the way back. my eyes were blessed with this view.
This was such a memorable experience. I had a wonderful time being on the water, seeing the ponies, and witnessing one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.