The famous Chincoteague Pony Swim and Auction in Virginia has been cancelled for the first time since World War 2, with the sale being held online instead.
This year’s swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island would have been the 95th in the famous herd’s history, but officials in Virginia cancelled the annual event and associated activities because of Covid-19.
“Please understand that this was not an easy decision to make, with the last pony penning being cancelled over 78 years ago during the second World War”, said Alex Tucker, President of Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.
“We know how much this community loves this fire company and supports our carnival but with the restrictions put into the phases to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it was the only logical decision to make.”
Traditionally, after the swim, some of the young stock are sold to raise funds for the Chincoteague volunteer fire company before the remainder of the ponies are returned to Assateague.
The auction will be an entirely online event hosted by longtime Chincoteague auctioneer Tim Jennings and his wife, Cathy, through their company, SportHorseAuctions.com, LLC, which has run almost 80 internet auctions since 2012.
“We would much rather be in Chincoteague, with our Island family”, said Tim Jennings, “but we are happy to offer our services with our online platform”.
The swim, made famous by Marguerite Henry’s children’s book, Misty of Chincoteague, is a highlight of a week-long carnival in Virginia, which is held every July.
Dates of the auction have been set, with bidding opening Thursday, July 23 and closing on Thursday, July 30. The dates were chosen to keep as much continuity as possible, since July 30 would have been the date of the live auction.
The “BuyBack program” will continue this year, and the ponies and foals included in this will be identified in each foal’s detail listing.
Prospective buyers will need to go to the auction website, and create an account. They will then need to request a bidder’s number in order to bid.
Tim and Cathy Jennings are the industry’s most experienced show horse auction managers. Their team has managed more than 380 live horse auctions selling more than 80,000 horses since 1978. Tim’s previous firm, Professional Auction Services, was the largest show horse auction company in the world, by number of horses sold for 15 years.