A new year, and a new round of prompts over at MOTE.
The first prompt of the year came from nother Mike: The annual unicorn drive ran right down the main road in town this year…
The first thought that popped into my mind was Pony Penning Day. Like many girls of my generation I grew up reading Misty of Chincoteague so I thought, what if instead of ponies they were bringing in unicorns.
Paul nudged his gelding and swung around in the saddle to watch the herd as the turned onto Main Street. After the rains and floods in the spring that had been concern that the bridge on Beebe might wash away and they may have to change to route to the pens this year, but it was sound and the herd came over safely. They strolled down the road lined with cape cod and colonial style homes on one side and Chincoteague Bay on the other and people on both.
Residents of the island watched from their yards and windows. They knew the routine, the herd would be walked down the main street, where everyone could see them, and herded into the pens. Yearlings that had been too young to make the swim last year would be separated into one corral, mares with older foals went into the main corral, and Black Jack would be in his own pen.
Visitors, tourists eager for a glimpse of the famous horses, lined the sidewalks. Older mares that had been through the roundup in the past kept to the middle of the road, watching their foals cautiously trotting beside them. Younger mares lowered their heads and swung their dagger like horns at the humans, to protect their hornless foals. In the middle of the herd, curving horn held high, was the current stallion Black Jack.
Paul patted Wave Dancer, remembering a few years ago when he’d spotted the gangly six month old trying to hide behind his mother after nearly drowning during the swim, and urged him after a yearling that was trying to go towards the bay a few yards away. The same floods that had threatened the bridge also turned the ground between the road and bay into a muddy quagmire, not safe for human or equine. But they came as they did ever year, because of a book that made their island famous, and a dream to own a piece of magic.
Twenty minutes later they were at the Carnival Grounds. Another year’s roundup was done safely. Tonight the unicorns rested. Tomorrow the auction. On Friday Black Jack and those not purchased would be returned to their home across the channel.
Sadly, the annual swim did not take place in 2020, but there are some nice photos of prior years at the site, and a map of the parade route. https://www.chincoteague.com/pony_swim_guide.html