Page 54 - 2410_full

This is a SEO version of 2410_full. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »
By Lida Bard
I frst read Marguerite Henry’s beloved book Misty of
Chincoteague when I was fve. I then asked my father if he would
take me to see the famous swimming ponies and he said yes. He
didn’t take me until I was 16, though, and by that point I’d started
riding and had two ponies and my event horse.
This was certainly a trip I’d been looking forward to for a very
long time, 11 years to be exact. As the last week of July 2007
came closer I researched online to fnd out all I could about what
to expect. We’d booked our hotel reservation a year in advance
to make sure that we would have a place to stay during the one
week of the year that Chincoteague Island attracts 40,000 or more
people. Upon departing for our family vacation my dad made sure
to inform me we were
coming home with a pony. I agreed
because I didn’t want the trip to begin with tension.
It’s probably almost seven hours from New Jersey to
Chincoteague Island. When we arrived we checked into our hotel
room and decided to cross the causeway onto Assateague Island
to see if we could fnd the ponies. We’d been told that some were
already penned up, ready and waiting for the swim in several
days. The ponies were not hard to fnd. The road was lined with
cars and my parents and I piled out and walked to the fenced-in
The First Sight of Ponies
My frst thought was that these ponies were beautiful. They
were every color - pintos, bays, chestnuts, buckskins, palominos,
some even looked like Misty and it was these that drew in the
most attention because of the speculation that they may be her
descendants. My parents and I were shocked to see how mellow
the ponies were. There were probably 70 or 80 ponies in the
pen and most were just grazing. The stallions watched over their
mares and the foals, practically newborns, either clung to their
mothers or played with their friends.
That night I began asking my father for a pony. “We went over
this before we even left the house, no more ponies,” he told me.
I begged and tried to make all sorts of deals with him, saying I’d
keep my room clean and get straight A’s in school were the two I
repeated the most. He remained frm in his answer.
Over the next few days we watched ponies, played mini golf,
watched ponies, looked through the local shops, watched ponies,
visited the Pony Centre and watched ponies some more. I couldn’t
take my eyes off of all of those little pinto foals that were frolicking
and playing. I kept working on my dad. My mom was trying to help
me strategize how to change his mind. He went from a straight out
“no” that frst day to “well if we got one, which one’s do you like?”
to “ok, which one do you want?” I had fnally worn him down!
While the majority of the ponies remained penned up on
Assateague until the morning of the swim, a few mothers and
foals were trailered across the causeway to Chincoteague and
put in a pen on the carnival grounds where the other ponies would
soon join them. The reason for this was because these foals were
even younger than the rest, about a month old, maybe less. The
Salt Water Cowboys, who run the week, were concerned for these
few foals’ safety and weren’t sure they would survive the swim. It
was here that I frst saw the pony that would become mine.
Pony Number 98B
He was grazing next to his mother, a large bay pony mare. He
was a bay pinto with a backwards quarter moon on his forehead,
and had four white stockings. He was gorgeous. He made the top
of my list not only because of his looks but because we were pretty
confdent he’d grow up to be a large pony that I’d be able to ride
and enjoy. We were told by other onlookers who had made the
yearly pilgrimage to Chincoteague before that the mare’s name
was Periwinkle and that her stallion was Billy Ray; but that no
My Story
Misty of
Pony Tale
Clipper and Lida with the book that started it all – “Misty of
Chincoteague” by Marguerite Henry.
Photo by Melanie Eckert
Continued on page 54