I’ve spent my whole life interacting and observing Chincoteague Ponies enabling me to know details such as: herd territories, individual names, lineages of the Ponies, and even what year they were born. This knowledge stems from being a fourth generation Saltwater Cowboy. My family has been a part of the fire company and the management of the Ponies since the beginning in 1925. My grandfather, Donald Leonard, was an iconic and influential manager of the Ponies and much that he worked hard to achieve to improve the care of the herd has trickled down to today’s managers.
I began my journey into aquaculture at 16 where I spent three years working in the aquaculture in a processing plant where millions of clams and oysters were processed, fueling my interest in the aquaculture field. I went to The College of William and Mary and pursued a degree in Marine Biology with a multi-year internship at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
I grew up on the water and have always been fond of going out in the boat. When I was 12 my Poppop Johnny bought me my very first boat, a 13 footer with a 25 hp motor. I progressed into larger boats and eventually I got my Captain’s License and spent 6 years working for my Uncle Carlton on tour boats.
Captain Ayden is a new captain but not new at the tour industry, working for many years as a mate on a big boat he learned more than enough between his work and his personal enjoyment of being out on the water. He is also a member of the Fire Company and the Pony Committee who rides as a “Saltwater Cowboy”. Ayden enjoys fishing, as well as hunting for deer, and without doubt his most favorite thing to do is duck hunt. Ayden is currently enrolled at Christopher Newport University and wants to become a lawyer. Captain Ayden’s generational knowledge and what he has been taught from his older brother, his father, and his own personal experiences make him an excellent pony guide!
“I’m not an authority on much, but I know about these Ponies” -Poppop Don