The state of Virginia has made its love affair with the legendary Chincoteague ponies official. The state’s House of Delegates and State Senate voted to name the Chincoteague Pony as the state’s official pony. According to a news report,  the legislation passed by a huge majority, making the decision veto-proof.

The unique breed was immortalized in the 1947 novel Misty of Chincoteague by author Marguerite Henry. Misty was a real pony owned by Henry and the source of inspiration for four books based on the little mare’s adventures.

Part of the story involved the annual pony swim, a real-life event that continues to this day. Each July, local volunteers round up and drive the ponies across a saltwater channel from the island of Assateague to Chincoteague to be auctioned off. The auction does double duty as a way to control the herd population and to raise much-needed funds for the fire department.

The annual Chincoteague Island Pony Swim enters its 97th year this July. Read about another beloved Chincoteague pony, Legend, here.