I read that book a long time ago. Loooong time. Pretty much all I remember is a pony...some kids...horses swimming... It was enough for me to drag my family there maybe fifteen years ago when we were driving south and saw a sign for Chincoteague. It was enough to take me back on this trip. However, I wasn't enthusiastic about rereading the book. As one of my relatives said, "You no longer want a pony."
So I have nothing to say about the book. But I had a neat time on the island. And I have pictures.
I'm not using any footnotes here. My info comes from signs on the walls in a National Park building, a municipal park kiosk, and a cool gift shop owner I was yakking with while waiting for the bearings on my bike to be replaced at Mid Town Bike Store, which I only mention because the place is fantastic.
|Ponies on Va. end of Assateague|
Okay, first off, Misty may be of Chincoteague, but she wasn't actually from Chincoteague. She was from another island, Assateague, which is close enough to Chincoteague that, if you are a healthy horse, you can swim from one island to the other. Interesting bit of trivia--two-thirds of Assateague Island is in Maryland. One-third is in Virginia, like Chincoteague. Who knew?
To be clear, there are no wild horses on Chincoteague. They're all on Assateague. They've been there for around 300 years. Two theories about how they got there:
- They are descended from horses that escaped from sinking ships belonging to early explorers.
- They are descended from horses that were kept on Assateaue by settlers trying to avoid taxes.
I kind of like that second story. It shows initiative.
|Chincoteague Fire Department|
The Fire Department controls its herd with an annual auction of ponies that has been going for something like forever. A vet selects horses on Assateague that are healthy enough to make the swim to Chincoteague at the end of July. Supposedly ten thousand people descend on the island for the auction. Or maybe tens of thousands. I heard that, too. Horses that don't sell, swim back to Assateague.
|Ponies on MD side of Assateague|
Why the popularity for these horses? They are now a designated breed. Some of these animals can sell for over $10,000, though the average price is significantly lower.
Rumor has it that the National Park Service maintains its herd with neutering. Don't know what goes on with that.
What About Misty The Book?
|Miss Molly's Inn|
The inn in Chincotague where Henry stayed still exists, and visitors to the island can stay there. Though we didn't. Henry bought Misty, and the horse seems to have bopped around a bit between Henry's home...somewhere else...and the island.
In 1961, a Misty movie came out. There was a premiere in the Chincoteague theater, which is still open. Misty showed up in town for this event. You can see her hoof prints in concrete outside the theater. And, wow, she signed them!
|Misty's Present Day Home|
So there you have it people. Your Misty tour is complete.
You can check out more Misty-related Chincoteague photos at my Following "Misty of Chincoteague" Around Town Pinterest board.