The Chincoteague Pony Legend has it that these ponies originated from small Spanish ponies who were shipwrecked when their Spanish ship foundered off the coast of Virginia in around the 1600's. These hearty equines quickly learned the art of survival on this remote islands - with little more than sea water to drink and scrub grass to eat. Today there are two groups of these ponies descended down from the only 17 original Arabian Horses in which survived the famous shipwreck. The two groups are "The Maryland Herd" and "The Virginia Herd". The Virginia Herd consists of approximately 130 head and is owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Dept. The ponies graze in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Virginia portion of Assateague Island. The Maryland Herd consists of approximately 40 Head and is owned by the Maryland Park Service. The famous annual "Pony Round-up" and "Pony Swim" is held each year during the month of July. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fireman herd the ponies off their island at slack tide, through the sea water channel to Virginia. On the last Wednesday of every July, the ponies are gathered for the sale the next day. Here the baby foals are auctioned off to the highest bidder. In 1998, the highest bid ever for a pony was $7000. The breed is characterized by a strong, muscular body, size under 14 hands, pinto coloring (although bays and browns are also found), and a hearty constitution. They are loving and sweet animals when raised with a kind hand, and are a wonderful child's mount or harness pony for an adult.