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Sunday, September 14, 2014

And Then There Are Horses

One of the favorite sports for a discerning few is watching horses swim. Not unusual in itself, but when they swim across a channel, they become a tourist attraction. The Aug/Sep edition of Country magazine published an article by Pat and Chuck Blackley with pictures covering the annual swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague, Virginia, on the last Wednesday in July. There are a couple of theories about how the horses ended up on Assateague Island, but they have been there since the 1700's or earlier according to the article. In 1925 they started the channel swim which before that they were hauled over in boats. I had heard about this when I was on a ship out of Norfolk, Virginia, but never thought about making a sojourn to watch horses swim. They didn't have the Kiptopeake Bridge then either which takes you right to the tail end of the peninsula and you can drive right up to the eastern shore of Maryland. Chincoteague is just below the Maryland border.

Anyway, the purpose of the swim is to auction off the foals and others to keep the herd to about 150, a manageable amount for the island. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company manages the herd and auctions off the horses to make money to keep it going. The swim lasts about thirty minutes and is accomplished between the changing of the tides when there is no current, the article says. A couple days later the remaining horses are herded back into the water for the return to Assateague.


8 comments:

  1. Now that event would never have occurred to me.

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  2. It attracts thousands each year.

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  3. News to me as well. Interesting, Oscar. I really should subscribe to Country. I pick it up from time to time and like it quite a bit.

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    1. I didn't know we subscribed until the wife was throwing this one away and I latched on to it. Has some good articles.

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  4. Never heard of such a thing, afraid I would be worried the horses would all go under.

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    1. The swim takes about 30 minutes and some of the horses are pretty worn out by the time they reach the beach. The article didn't mention any being lost.

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  5. I've been along the shore there, and I've seen photos of the horses. Beautiful. (Also been bitten silly by the king size flies that roam the area...).

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    1. The flies are just gnats that have lived in DC too long.

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