Monday, August 4, 2008

Pony Round up 2008

Last week Uriah had mentioned that one of the things that he wanted to do while we were in Maryland was to see the Chincoteague/Assateague Pony Round Up. He was making a list of some of the things he wanted to see while we were here, and that just happened to take place last Wednesday. I already had the day off, and so he took the day off and we drove down Tuesday night, stayed in the dumpiest motel EVER and we went down to see them!

I didn't really know what to expect, we figured that since it was in the middle of the week, it wouldn't be horribly crowded, but WRONG. They estimated 40-50,000 people in the small little town. They tell you not to drive yourself to the roundup or they will have no place for you to park, so they have school buses bus you in from 5am to 1pm, the buses just basically run until there are no more people to take. They don't give you an exact time of when they ponies are going to cross the channel, but they give you a estimated time, that time was between 5am and 1pm. Since i'm not exactly a morning person, and we didn't want to get up at 4am, we decided to get up at 6:30am. We arrived at the swim around 7:30am and as soon as we pulled up they had just fired a shot signaling that the ponies were getting ready to cross. Just in time! We hurry off the bus, and try to find a spot that wasn't so crowded. We finally found the herd and watched them (as little dots) cross the channel. There were people in their boats in the water that had a much better view than anyone on land. It was definately a sight.

After the ponies made it across, they were rested for 1 hour and were then escorted to the carnival grounds through the streets of the town where they would be corraled and given hay/water/grass and auctioned off the next day. Only the yearlings and younger would be auctioned off, and the rest would be swam back to their home until next year.

Here is a video of them being escorted through the streets. We were standing right at the beginning of their journey through the streets and so were a thousand other people. Here is what we saw:

Part. 1 Video- please scroll down for part 2 video, I don't know why but it won't let me cut and copy them next to each other. The other half of this video is below...

Some mares enjoying some nice round bales that smelled like alfalfa.
Part 2 video

After the swim, it was extremely humid and starting to get very very hot, that and Uriah's foot was starting to hurt (his surgery) so we went shopping in the town and got a couple shirts. We went to a fudge shoppe that was owned by one of the former policeman in the town with his wife and he told us a little trick to go see the ponies without having to fight through all the crowds, so we went to take a look at the ponies after they were all settled in and eating their hay. Almost all of the mares were very pregnant and were still nursing their babies. Some of them looked wormy, but for the most part they all looked pretty healthy. There were 4 different bands of ponies, each gathered up from different ends of the island. The 'saltwater cowboys' as they called the people that rounded them up swam to the island 4 days before the swim to round them all up. You could definately see the stallions for each of the herd. There was one stallion that kept visiting the ladies at the other side of the pasture (different herd) and he and the other stallion from the other herd got in a little argument right in front of us, I thought they were going to fight, but one backed off.

This was the stallion.
Fighting sleep standing up.

I liked this buckskin paint.
Sorry for all the jumbled photo's, but my blog editing skills aren't up to par yet, and every time I try to cut and paste, it doesn't work, and everything else I try has no effect, I know it's a little confusing but bear with me.
So Ocean City, MD is a beachy town that people here talk about all the time and since it was on the way home we decided to take a peek for ourselves. We came to our own conclusion very quickly that it was NOT a beach that we would go to. As you can see it is EXTREMELY crowded for our likings and was WAY too foggy. I am sure it isn't like this all the time, but the day we went we weren't impressed. We never even saw the ocean because the fog was so thick. We were thinking of going in January/December when it is the off season.

Back to the ponies, lots of babies sleeping.
This baby laying down was the same pony that was fighting sleep standing up, he finally gave in. Poor thing had a hard day.

So in case you were wondering, how the ponies got to the island, there are 2 theories...the first is that there was a spanish galleon that shipwrecked (a loooooong time ago) and they let their shipment of horses go in order to save them, and the ponies swam to the nearest island where they learned to survive and have been living since. The other is that a long time ago farmers didn't have to pay taxes on livestock that wasn't fenced so they took them to the island where there was a natural border of water so their animals wouldn't escape and they wouldn't have to pay taxes on them. Nowadays the round up is conducted to raise money for the towns fire department. This is the 83rd year that they have been rounding them up and each year the crowds get larger and larger.

When we were shopping for t-shirts, one of the locals at the store was saying how the fire department won't be getting as much money each year if the town keeps getting so greedy. Supposedly the surrounding hotels won't let anyone stay unless there is a 5 night minimum! There also was photographers allowed on the island during round up in previous years and this year they wouldn't let anyone on.

The average pony sells for about 1000 bucks. I think I read that a pony last year went for 17,000 give or take a few bucks. Geez, it must have had golden poop for someone to want to pay that much for it. Anyway. we had fun and it was a nice break in the middle of a stressful week.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures and video.

Love and miss you all


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