CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (WAVY) — A female Chincoteague pony died Thursday afternoon during a “freak accident” in a pen at the town’s carnival grounds.
According to a Facebook post from the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department, the female pony Butterfly Kisses died when she slipped in a pen and broke her neck by slamming into a fence.
The department says another pony named Riptide was chasing her at the time, and her death was a tragic accident.
A veterinarian and Saltwater Cowboys responded within minutes, but she had no chance of survival, according to the department.
Butterfly Kisses was euthanized, and she was taken back to Assateague Island for burial.
She was the mother of a foal, but the department says in “a blessing in disguise,” the baby pony was bought by a local family and taken to their home. The foal is feeding by bottle and will be supplemented, the department said.
In the post, the department dismissed criticism and stressed the care of the ponies is very important to them.
“We feel that we manage this herd very well,” the department said in the post. “It was an accident that has really broken our hearts. I ask that you please keep any negative comments for another day, this has been overwhelming enough and we need to process this and please keep these ponies and cowboys in your hearts.”
The accident comes during the island’s famous Pony Penning week, which includes the Pony Swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. The swim was Wednesday, and the pony auction was Thursday morning at the carnival grounds.
Foals are sold at the auction, in order to make sure the herd, which lives the rest of the year on neighboring Assateague Island, doesn’t get too large. Money from the sales benefits the local fire department. 53 ponies were sold this year, according to the Delmarva Daily Times.