Saltwater Cowboys: True Grit of the East

first_imgPhoto by Denise BowdenBy 6 a.m. on a late July morning, Bobby Lappin has already been in the saddle for an hour.He’s not alone. Fifty-some cowboys ride at his side. They cluck and yip and crack their whips against the water, driving over one hundred Chincoteague Ponies down the beaches of Assateague. The herd of hooves rumbles along the sand heading south toward a corral at the end of the island.“You got the sun coming up, sometimes a little haze, dolphins in the background swimming while we’re coming down the beach. It’s one of those surreal moments, I guess,” says Lappin.Lappin grew up along the shores of Chincoteague and Assateague. Like his fellow riders, he has spent nearly his entire life on the back of a horse. The feral Chincoteague Ponies, which annually draw over 50,000 people to his home island, are about as normal to Lappin as the squirrels in your front yard.“You really don’t pay no mind to them sometimes,” he says of the ponies. “The horses being there is just part of our heritage and our way of life.”Lappin is the Chief of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company and the Pony Committee Chairman. Sounds like an unlikely résumé, but the relationship between the local fire department and the ponies is a longstanding one. In the early 1900s, a number of fires wreaked havoc on Chincoteague Island, leaving the volunteer fire department without equipment to perform their duties. In 1925, the firefighters took matters into their own hands, hosting the famed “pony penning” as it exists today to raise money for the department.Although pony penning did occur prior to 1925, it was meant more as a way for the island’s livestock owners to claim and brand their horses. Today’s roundup now features the “Pony Swim” during which the herd is ushered across the Assateague Channel at low tide, a live auction, and a community carnival to top it all off. The annual pony penning has since become more than a fundraiser for the fire company and is arguably the most important economic driver for the island.“It keeps a lot of businesses alive,” Lappin points out. “They might be having a hard time, and this is what pulls them out.”The event also acts like a trip to the doctor for the herd. Each year, the horses receive vaccinations, dewormer, and blood tests. They’re inspected for injuries and shuttled across the channel if deemed too young or too weak to swim. Though the public may only view these free spirited ponies as “wild,” the fire department makes sure their herd is taken care of.That’s right—their herd. Because Assateague Island is split by the Maryland and Virginia border, so, too, are the island’s ponies. The National Park Service takes care of the Maryland herd while the Chincoteague Fire Department oversees the Virginian one. Under a special grazing permit licensed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the fire department is only allowed a herd of 150 horses, a number they maintain by annually auctioning off ponies at the summer roundup.“We’re over there once a week at least,” Lappin says of trips to the ponies’ home on Assateague, a 37-mile barrier island that received the National Seashore designation in 1965. “During the winter we took hay over there and went around to the water holes to bust the ice.”By “we,” Lappin is mostly referring to his fellow firefighters, the men who form the Pony Committee and are charged with caring for the herd. These 55 men are known locally and nationally as the “Saltwater Cowboys.” They’re the true grit of the East, and while Chincoteague’s knee-deep mud and vast swaths of swampy marshland are certainly not the open desert of spaghetti westerns, these cowboys know firsthand what it’s like to battle the elements while herding hundreds of wild horses across open terrain.“When I say we’re out on a marsh, I’m talkin’ about miles of marsh before you can even hit a road,” says Lappin. “It’s not like you can take cover or get under something,” which, as was the case during the swim of 2013, can prove particularly problematic.On the morning of the swim, Lappin and the Saltwater Cowboys rise at dawn to wait for slack tide, a roughly 30-minute period when the channel has no current and the horses can more safely make the swim to Chincoteague. On that late July morning in 2013, the swim had every appearance of being a success—blue skies, big crowd, cooperative ponies. But in a matter of minutes, the sunny day took a dark turn.“The same time we were getting ready to hit the water we had lightning, hail, thunder,” Lappin remembers. “We were waiting for the tornado to come next. It was game on.”Because the swim is timed around the tides, there was no pausing for the storm to pass. The cowboys knew they would be pushing their luck, but any bit of shelter was a least a half hour’s ride away. As the skies continued to darken and lightning struck from every direction, the men were forced to make a decision—the swim must go on.With heads barely above water, the horses followed local islanders in boats as they navigated the narrowest part of the channel to Chincoteague. Despite the foul weather and pelting hail, over 10,000 spectators stayed to cheer the ponies on. In a matter of minutes, the horses were standing on shore, shaking water from their coats, foals whinnying in search of their mothers. Thankfully, the swim passed without incident and just a few hours later the storm had cleared out.“You could see a little bit of fear on everybody’s face,” Lappin remembers. “Thank God that nothing happened that day.”From the black-mud banks of Chincoteague, the Saltwater Cowboys continued the procession through town to the carnival holding corrals where the ponies stay through the week until their return swim to Assateague. Lappin and his cowboys swap hats after the swim, tending to the ponies and manning the fire station by day, working the carnival grounds by night.“None of us get paid for it,” Lappin says. “It’s just our way of life. We’re like family,” ponies and all.* Giddy-up10 Fun Facts About Chincoteague Ponies You Probably Didn’t Know– They don’t actually live on Chincoteague Island.– They aren’t technically considered “horses” due to their size — 12 to 13 hands (the equivalent of about four feet in height).– Due to the high amount of salt in their diets, Chincoteague Ponies have to drink twice as much water. This explains why they look round and bloated.– Legend has it that Chincoteague Ponies are descendants of Spanish mustangs that swam to the safety of Assateague after a ship wrecked in the early 17th century.– Chincoteague Ponies are considered “feral,” as in they were once domesticated but have since returned to the wild.– The ponies’ diet primarily consists of coarse saltmarsh cord grass and American beach grass, although they will also eat greenbrier stems, bayberry twigs, rose hips, seaweeds, and poison ivy.– Chincoteague Ponies removed from their harsh environment often grow to be full-sized horses, likely because of the higher protein diet they receive.– The Chincoteague Pony became an official breed in 1994.– Roughly 70 Chincoteague foals are born every year.– Ponies can be bought and continue to live on the island as part of a tax write-off program.Tour de ChincoteagueIn town for the Pony Penning with a few days to kill? Check out these local favorites for where to eat, what to do, and sights to see while you’re on island time!EATBrunch: Bill’s Prime Seafood & Steaks / billsseafoodrestaurant.comLunch: Etta’s Channel Side Restaurant / ettaschannelside.comDinner: AJ’s On the Creek / ajsonthecreek.comSweets: Island Creamery: islandcreamery.netDrink: Chatties Lounge / champagne at sunsetCaptain Barry’s Backbay Cruises / dolphinsChincoteague Cruises / chincoteaguecruises.comRide a Chincoteague ponyChincoteague Pony Centre / chincoteague.comListen to local loreRoe “Duc-Man” Terry, Decoy Carver and Saltwater Cowboy / chincoteaguechamber.comlast_img read more

The Brisbane home that failed to sell despite a $3.11 million bid

first_imgIt is not often a wine cellar comes with a view.But despite the bidding jumping to $3.11 million, the price was still too low for the vendor and the auction was passed in.Agent Douglas Tonkin said there had already been several offers made for the home and people from throughout Queensland and Australia had been through its doors to take a look in person. “Most people that come through to look at this property they are CEOs COOs, business people and the like, people that know the value,” Mr Tonkin said. “We always reiterated that this is a stand-alone home, that you are not going to say anything like this in Brookfield.”Negotiations were continuing with a number of people still interested in the property. Want to have a swim and enjoy the elevated views? No problem, the house has a pool on the top floor.And all that in an area that is just 20 minutes to the city. Exquisite, expansive and expensive. A $3.11 million auction bid was not enough for the vendor at this Brookfield home.THE bidders were happy to throw millions to secure this Brookfield property, but it was not enough for the vendor to let it go. The conditions seemed to be right for 9 Royston St to sell at auction yesterday.It had a lot of interest from wealthy bidders due to the sweeping views, size at 1.02 ha and the highend minimalist designed home by architect Tim Ditchfield that was unlike anything else in the area. center_img The designer home is just four years old.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus20 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market20 hours agoThe home had everything from a butler pantry with a walk in cold room, an elevated pool on the top floor that overlooked the mountains, and a wine cellar.last_img read more

Folklórico group enciende USC Village

first_img“In a lot of cultures, death is something that’s almost feared, and I think Día de los Muertos is something that embraces it,” said Ada Marys Lorenzana, a member of the group. “I think the best thing we did with this performance is try to honor that culture and try to honor our loved ones.”  Moises Iniguez, Adrian Bercerra and German Monroy (from left to right) perform a traditional Mexican folk dance to community members at USC Village. (Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan) “And then we’re pretty much in the dark. When we’re preparing, especially for this showcase, we’re using our flashlights on our phones just to try to see what we’re doing,” Diaz said. “And every now and then cars will have to pass by so we have to pause a rehearsal and allow them to pass just for safety.” Paola Morales, a junior majoring in political science, said she was impressed with the effort the group put into the showcase and was particularly fond of the Sinaloa performance that expressed the vibrant garments of the region.  Grupo Folklórico de USC hosted its inaugural Día del los Muertos showcase Saturday at USC Village. The group performed regional dances from Guerrero, Yucatán, Sinaloa and Chihuahua. (Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan) “What made me come out [to the showcase] is being able to see my culture represented in a space that is predominantly white people and being right here in the middle of campus [where] everyone can see and that my culture is so vibrant and beautiful,” Morales said.  “[Latinx students] are a very small percentage on campus,” said Evelyn Lopez, a 2019 alumna who led the effort to reestablish Grupo Folklórico de USC last year. “We’re about [15%] right now … We just want to represent that little portion of campus and the fact that we are in [a community that USC resides in] which is primarily minorities.” “It made me feel good that I saw President Folt made an appearance,” Morales said. “She actually stayed here to interact with students and see the work that the students put in — I think that shows her commitment to students of color and to diversity on this campus.”  “I just think this is a beautiful cultural event,” Folt said. “I love that it is designed to both celebrate the culture by the people whose culture it is and teach everybody else about it. So I’d love to see every single USC student here because it’s wonderful.”  Coming in one by one in their vibrant, vestuarios flowing onto the makeshift stage set in the USC Village Plaza, members of Grupo Folklórico de USC began their inaugural Día de los Muertos Showcase by performing Flor de Piña, a regional song from Oaxaca, Mexico. Folt arrived toward the beginning of the event, standing in the back of the audience to not steer attention away from the performance. At the end of the event, Folkórico members invited her to the altar where they explained the personal significance of the event to the Latinx community.  The group performed Mexican regional dances from Guerrero, Yucatán, Sinaloa and Chihuahua to songs such as “La Iguana,” “El Coyote” and “Las Aguas de Río Nonoava.” Each dance tells a story about the region displayed through their varying choreography with each number and outfit changes. center_img Grupo Folklórico de USC, which students reestablished in 2018 following a hiatus that lasted several years, practices in the Jefferson Boulevard Parking Structure two nights a week under the lighting of Dedeaux Field, which the group’s president Linda Diaz said often turns off by 7:30 p.m.   Morales, who noticed Folt at the event, was happy to see that Folt was making an effort to be involved in cultural events that pertain to underrepresented groups on campus.  Off to one side of the stage, a Día de los Muertos altar honoring friends and family members who have passed away decorated with marigold flowers, pan de muerto, candles and photos. The spiritual holiday is typically celebrated from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 and is rooted in indigenous and mestizo culture in Mexico.  By celebrating Día de los Muertos, Grupo Folklórico de USC hopes to educate community members on Mexican culture and represent the Latinx community through song and dance. (Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan) Belen Espinoza (right) dances with her aunt Patricia Hernandez at USC Village. (Andrea Diaz | Daily Trojan) An audience of more than 200 people, including President Carol Folt, watched the dancers sway and dance back and forth across the stage while balancing pineapples on their shoulders.   Although the group hoped for better circumstances to prepare for its showcase, Mia Islas, a freshman majoring in communication, said the show helped her feel represented on campus. There is no current update to the fate of the group’s practice area for next semester, however the group has arranged a meeting with Student Affairs to resolve this issue for dance groups on campus.  By hosting the event, the club wanted to represent Mexican culture and the Latinx community on campus by taking up such a large and prominent space frequented by students and neighbors daily.  “It’s like a part of our culture that we grew up seeing, so seeing it where we’re living and like in a city that we could see ourselves living in for the rest of our lives is comforting,” Islas said. “It’s like going back home or like making a new home.”last_img read more