CHINCOTEAGUE, VA., JULY 30 -- Stanley White returned to Chincoteague this week, 39 years after he first visited the island's celebrated pony roundup and auction. This time, he brought along some money.

"I came here when I was 9 and then didn't have enough money to get back across {the channel} on the ferry," said White, 48, who raises Arabian horses in Florida. "Luckily they had bucking horses at the end of the carnival. I rode one and won $10 so I could get home."

Times have changed for White -- today he made the high bid of $1,200 for a foal -- but the Chincoteague pony roundup, the culmination of an annual two-week carnival now in its 62nd year, stays the same.

Today, about 70 of the approximately 150 ponies that swam Chincoteague Channel from Assateague Island yesterday were sold, at an average price of slightly more than $300. Proceeds, estimated at $24,000 this year, are used to benefit the local volunteer fire department and to care for the wild herd remaining on Assateague.

Those ponies that were not auctioned will make the return swim across the narrow channel Friday.

Glenn DeLong of Leesport, Pa., and his 7-year-old daughter Amy bought a brown and white pony for $350 and promptly donated it back to the firefighters. "They must take real good care of the horses," DeLong said. "We bought two last year and donated one back. The one we left looks as good as the one we brought home."

Kittie Griffith, 27, of Rockville bought two horses on the spur of the moment.

"My husband John said, 'No way, we're not buying another horse,' " she said. "Now we're going to have to go home and get the trailer."

The condition of the ponies and the methods their new owners employ to transport them have been a subject of discussion for years.

Animal protection groups such as the American Horse Protection Association expressed outrage when it was learned that some buyers took their ponies home in the back seat of the family car or in other inappropriate ways.

Association members now monitor the auction. One of the group's members, Tenney Mudge, said today that she believed some of the foals were too young to be auctioned. Officials said the ponies' ages ranged from 2 to 12 months, and Mudge said her organization was worried about the younger foals, which are too small to digest solid food.

She also suggested that potential buyers be required to register and specify how they will get the animals home.

"We feel there are some problems that are being overlooked," she said, but she added that there have been improvements in recent years.

"Some things needed changing and we changed them, but we try to work with everyone," said Harry Stanley, chairman of the fire department pony committee.

As the ponies were being sold today, a representative from the local humane society and a veterinarian provided information on how to care for the animals and told buyers that their modes of transportation would be checked.

For the Port Deposit Chesapeake Center, a Presbyterian group that runs a children's summer camp in Maryland, that was not a concern. The buckskin-colored pony the group purchased for $200 had a special van -- with a built-in stall -- waiting for it. Nothing had been overlooked.

Well, almost nothing. Said camper Randy Lindsay, 13, of Edgewood, Md.: "I hope the horses don't have to wear seat belts."