Misty of Chincoteague

Welp, it’s Pony Penning Week on Chincoteague Island, the last great wild horse roundup in the east.


I first went there in 1972 with my parents and a couple of high school friends (I graduated in 1973). I was hooked, and returned year after year with backpack and tent and eventually kayak to float in the shallow bay waiting for the distant crack of bullwhips (the traditional east coast way to  herd livestock) and the shouts of saltwater cowboys bringing the herd through the marsh to the channel for the swim from the wild island of  Assateague to the settled island of Chincoteague.


1972 was the last year Misty, star of Marguerite Henry’s famous 1946 kids book, was alive. We saw her in July, and she was gone by fall.

You can find more about the real Misty here:  http://www.mistysheaven.com/historyofmisty.html

In 1972 Breyer released this model of Misty…


I bought one right in the gift shop of the pony farm in the center of Chincoteague where Misty was living. I did not get a photo of Misty, because, though I had my camera in hand, she was snoozing in her stall and I felt like it would be rude to wake her up with a flash.

Oddly, despite the excellent artistry of Breyer, and of Chris Hess (who sculpted many of the Breyer models I have, because I have the old ones), Misty is the wrong color!

Technically, the wrong pattern.

She was a palomino pinto, by the chestnut pinto Pied Piper, out of the smoky black pinto Phantom. Smoky black is a black horse with one cream gene. Buckskin is a bay horse with one cream gene. Palomino is a chestnut (or sorrel) horse with one cream gene.

She was described, in detail in Henry’s book as having a reversed US map on one side, and a plow on the other. That part’s fine, it’s the head markings that are wrong.

Here’s a young Misty with Marguerite Henry…

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Here’s a pretty good shot of her face from the left side…

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note the raggedy blaze that goes over her left eye, and not the right.

Helping Marguerite write…

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With Marguerite…

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Note that her right side is all blond (palomino).

Aaaaaand the Breyer again…

aaaand a swell artist named Morbidweasel on Deviantart…

Misty of Chincoteague by morbidweasel


aaaaand Misty…

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(you can really see the face marking here)

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Misty and Stormy (named after the storm that basically kept developers off Assateague)


aaaaaaand my repaint…

With Rocket (Guardians of the Galaxy was playing at the island theater) standing in Misty’s hoofprints in front of the theater.

In front of the Misty statue in the middle of the town of Chincoteague.

So this…

is all Wesley Dennis’s fault…or Breyer’s interpretation of his actually awesome classic horse art…

Here’s Wesley’s cover for the book…

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and his Chincoteague Pony page from Album of Horses…

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…where you can clearly see the correct face marking on the Misty on a stool.

So why the weird face dot thingie?

Because Marguerite Henry got Misty as a foal, the way many people get Chincoteague ponies. Foals change their coat color somewhat. Also, winter hair can be a different color. Marguerite received a pale whitish foal and was sure Grandpa Beebe had shipped the wrong one, not the golden pinto she’d seen on the island. She truly had a “misty” pony! The winter coat on many palominos is pale. In Wesley Dennis’s painting, Misty’s real adult coat is beginning to show through her foal coat, around the eye. That “white” will shed out. In the book, when Paul first sees Misty, he sees a pale wisp of foal in morning mist. Foal coat. Pale.


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Misty and Stormy.

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Both are still preserved in some questionable taxidermy on Chincoteague Island. Better, the island has several memorials to the famous pony that summed up the spirit of Chincoteague.


Vintage Misty pics, Identify Your Breyer pics, Deviantart pic, Wesley Dennis art commandeered from the web.

All other photos mine.

More here:  http://www.swordwhale.com/chincoteague–assateague-islands.html








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