Chincoteague Ponies are a hearty breed from their origins as a feral landrace. They are considered easy keepers. Chincoteagues are a pony breed but some individuals reach horse height. Their appearance and proportions are more horselike than pony. Chincoteague Ponies are known to have strong legs and hooves and often do not require shoes. They have thick manes and tails that grow easily. Chincoteague grow a thick winter coat. Light feathering on the legs is common. Eyes are large and well spaced.
Feral Chincoteagues are shorter in general than their domesticated counterparts due to surviving on a barrier island and differences in diet. They have bloated bellies from their salt marsh diet. Island born ponies raised off of Assateague and non-Assateague born foals will usually grow taller than their island relatives and will not have a bloated belly. An increase in height and an improvement in conformation is common with ponies selectively bred by private breeders.
There is a large variation in type due to the main breeding group being feral and the introduction of a variety of breeds through the breed's history. Chincoteague Ponies fall into two general types, Traditional and Sport. Some individuals will have characteristics of both.
Traditional Type Traditional type Chincoteagues have a stocky appearance. They resemble their Assateague Horse cousins. They can stand from 10 to 13.3 hands. Neck is short with prominent withers. The croup is sloped with a middle to low set tail. Head is refined with a straight or slightly concave profile, a convex profile is rare. Legs are short and slender.
Sport Type Sport type Chincoteagues frequently have Arabian, Mustang, and/or Thoroughbred blood and retain characteristics of those breeds. They stand from 13 to 14 hands, with a rare individual reaching 15 hands. Ponies with Arabian blood will have Arabian characteristics such as long arching necks, high set tails, dished faces, long well formed legs, and short back.
Color Chincoteague Ponies come in many colors; bay, chestnut, black, palomino, buckskin, smoky black, and double cream dilute. Flaxen chestnut, mealy, and sooty are found. Chincoteagues are commonly pinto with tobiano the prevailing pinto pattern. Tobiano roaning and cat tracks are common. Splashed White (SW1) is common and is frequently mixed with tobiano. White 20 (W20) is present in the population. Chincoteagues with primitive markings (nd1), belton spotting, bend or spots, and birdcatcher spots have been found.
The most common eye color is brown. One, two, and partial blue eyes are frequently found from the presence of splashed white. Single cream dilutes occasionally have light brown eyes and double cream dilutes will have blue-green eyes.