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Aug 15, 2012
05:25 PM

A Pony 'Gift' on the Virginia Island of Chincoteague

After being inspired by a classic young adult novel, two sisters share a dream summer vacation – and connect with a special horse

A Pony 'Gift' on the Virginia Island of Chincoteague

When my sister and I read the book Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry, we thought we would like to help the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company (located on Chincoteague Island in Virginia, it owns a herd of ponies on nearby Assateague Island). Mom thought it would be fun to go and watch the pony swim, auction and swim back. (This long-time event, called "pony penning," is held the last Wednesday of July; the horses swim from one island to another, and some are auctioned off to help fund the fire company.)

A few days before we left, my mom got a text from my dad that said no, we could not get a pony. Great: Plan A, ruined! Then I figured I could raise my hand when no one was looking during the auction. Plan B ruined after my sister Anna told me that kids under 21 could not bid. But then, once we were in Virginia, we received a phone call.

"Anna, Grandma wants to talk to you," Dad said as he handed her the phone. Grandma had read Misty's story also, and had always wanted to go to Chincoteague since she was a little girl. Suddenly, Anna's face lit up.

"OK: If it goes over $3,000, stop? OK. Thank you so much, Grandma!"

I gasped.

"Mandy," she said excitedly. "Guess what? We're going to get a pony!"

Of course, we don't have room for a pony at our house – so we decided to get a buyback pony. A buyback is a pony that gets auctioned off, gets named and, after one year, gets set free to be wild and free to have more foals. During the auction, I spotted some ponies with tags that said they were buybacks. At last, the first buyback filly came out for auction. Dad won the bid at $4,300 on a chestnut filly we named Dreamer's Gift.

Also, because we got the first buyback pony, we were on the radio, in the newspaper and on TV. The strange thing is that Dreamer is Anna's pony and mine, but the interviewers didn't mention me or my name once! All they said was "Anna's pony." We tried to prove that we could come home without a pony – but of course, that didn't happen.

Whenever I think of Dreamer, I cry because of how much I love her and miss her. I also get bummed out because I will never be able to ride her for as long as she lives. But, on the bright side, I'm glad the money went to the fire department, and they're taking good care of her. I hope that I'll see her at each and every roundup my family goes to.

This was the most exciting summer I have ever had.

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