photo real Misty of Chincoteague pony and Marguerite Henry| Marguerite Henry biography

7 Fun Facts about Misty of Chincoteague, the Real Pony

Misty of Chincoteague is a beloved pony known for captivating the hearts of many through literature and real-life adventures. Here are seven fun facts about the real Misty of Chincoteague:

Photo courtesy of the Kerlan Collection of Children's Literature at the University of Minnesota.

1. Marguerite Henry fell in love at first sight with a tiny pinto filly. In 1946, Marguerite Henry traveled from Wayne, Illinois to Chincoteague Island, Virginia to witness the annual Pony Penning Day, where wild ponies are rounded up and swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. She saw a sweet foal lying on the ground next to her dam, and the rest is history.

2. Misty was born on a ranch, not in the wild. Contrary to the Misty of Chincoteague storyline, the real Misty was never foaled in the wild on Assateague Island. She was born in domestication at Grandpa Beebe's ranch on Chincoteague Island--the same ranch that was purchased by the Museum of Chincoteague and will eventually be part of the museum's exhibitions. 

3. The real Misty was trained to be a riding pony by a Chicago-area trainer named Eddie Pacuinas. While researching for my Marguerite Henry biography Marguerite, Misty and Me, I spoke to several people who had been neighborhood children who lived near Marguerite in the 40s and 50s. Eddie was a lifelong horseman in Wayne, Illinois who taught riding lessons to area kids, was active in the Wayne-DuPage fox hunt and managed horse farms. 

Dear Readers and Riders Marguerite Henry biography Marguerite Misty and Me

4. Misty attended the 1949 American Library Association conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Marguerite accepted her Newbery Award for King of the Wind at the ALA conference and brought her famous pony as her special guest. Misty hobnobbed with the bigwigs of the library world and was a media celebrity. After the conference, Marguerite and Misty did a book signing at a Grand Rapids department store. The local newspaper said shelving was moved around to create a temporary stall for the starlet. 

5. Misty of Chincoteague and Marguerite welcomed students to Mole Meadow (Marguerite's horse farm in Wayne, IL). During a recent author talk I gave on the life of Marguerite Henry, a woman in the crowd raised her hand and shared that when she was in fourth grade, her whole class visited Mole Meadow. Here is the part that bowled me over: she said that she and EVERY kid in her class RODE Misty of Chincoteague! I marvel/marveled at that generosity and commented, "No helmets, no waivers--what a different day it was." I also asked if she had a picture of her on the famous Misty of Chincoteague. She said no. 

6. Misty rode out a deadly Nor'easter in a kitchen. Much of the storyline of Stormy, Misty's Foal is true! The part where a huge storm hits the island of Chincoteague was based on fact. The Beebe family (who by this time had Misty at their farm so she could be bred) had to evacuate their farm via helicopter. Before that, they led a very pregnant Misty into their kitchen, filled the sink with water and grabbed several days' worth of hay. They hoped having her in a human dwelling on higher ground would keep her safe. The smart plan worked. Misty was safe, and delivered her filly aptly named Stormy, a few days later at a veterinarian's farm.

7. Legions of horse lovers have named their horse or pony (or children) Misty, based on the real pony. While researching the University of Minnesota's Marguerite Henry Collection, I read through scores of fan letters written to Marguerite Henry. I lost track of how many children told her about their horse (or pony) named Misty. Many of them sent in photos of their Mistys. 

Last fall I traveled with my mom to Chincoteague Island to witness the Saltwater Cowboys' fall wild pony roundup on Assateague Island. One morning we went to walk the beach on Assateague and gaze out at the Atlantic. A trio of women approached us to ask if I could take a group photo of them. We got to small talking and learned it was two daughters with their mom. They were on the island to celebrate their mom's beating breast cancer. I snapped a picture of them, arms around each other with the sea as a backdrop. We continued to chat about what a special place this was, and then as I handed the phone back to the woman, she introduced herself as Misty. I asked if it was based on the book and she smiled and nodded. 

What a legacy left by a pretty pinto pony and her talented writing rider. 

I hope you'll read Marguerite, Misty and Me, my Marguerite Henry biography, and rediscover the Misty magic. CLICK HERE to buy a copy and find the backstory of a iconic horse world duo.

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