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      Chincoteague ponies safe after Hurricane Irene

      The wild ponies swim from Assateague to Chincoteague. Photo: clotho98/Flickr

      CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (AP) - The Chincoteague ponies are safe after Hurricane Irene tore past their island.

      Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company spokeswoman Denise Bowden said Sunday that the herd of wild horses owned by the fire company since the 1920s made it through the storm without any nicks or scratches.

      The company owns more than 100 of the wild ponies that graze on nearby Assateague Island. The ponies made famous by the novel "Misty of Chincoteague" and a subsequent movie are now visited by hundreds of thousands of people a year.

      Bowden says pony committee members opened gates to let the ponies reach higher ground on Friday and put out extra hay. She says when committee members returned Sunday morning the ponies "looked fantastic," as docile and complacent as usual, as if nothing had happened.