Several years ago Ann Marie and I spent a three day weekend on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. These days Chincoteague might not be as popular as Hogwarts, but kids have been reading about a pony named Misty of Chincoteague since 1947. I was one of those kids.
The term “Chincoteague Pony” is actually a bit misleading. The ponies live on Assateague Island, an island in the states of Virginia and Maryland. There are two herds of ponies, one living on the Maryland side of the island and one living on the Virginia side.
Also, Chincoteague ponies are more horse-like than pony-like. Legend says that the ponies are descended from Spanish horses that swam ashore from shipwrecked Spanish ships. The small size is probably due to the poor diet of the animals, which live on plants of the salt marsh covering much of the island.
Horse or pony, the feral equines of Assateague Island are quite beautiful. Every July, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department holds a Pony Penning Day. Healthy, older foals are auctioned to raise money for the fire department, and to keep the herds at a healthy level. Not all the horses purchased during the auction leave the island. Some bidders donate the money to the fire department and allow the horse to be released back into the herd.