Online Naming Auction Sees Late Rush

Online Naming Auction Sees Late Rush

ASSATEAGUE — After a flurry of last-minute bidding, a Delaware woman successfully earned the naming rights to the only new foal born to the herd of while horses on Assateague this year after a 10-day auction on eBay concluded last week.

Each year, the Assateague Island Alliance, an advocacy group that partners with the state and federal parks on behalf of the island’s most famed residents, holds various contests to name new foals born on the barrier island. In some years, there are two or three new foals born on the island and the AIA holds raffles, auctions and other means to name the latest additions to the herd.

This year, just one new foal was born on Assateague and the AIA just concluded an auction to provide naming rights to the successful bidder. The eBay auction opened on Dec. 5 with the minimum bid of $300, but by the time the auction closed at midnight on Sunday, the price had soared to $1,925.

By last Saturday, the bidding had risen to $900, but there was still plenty of time for the price to go up. The bidding really accelerated on the last day on Sunday with 31 of the 60 total bids over the 10-day auction period coming in the last few hours, including eight in the last few minutes before the auction closed. When the dust settled, Donna Rash of Bear, Del. secured the naming rights with an offer of $1,925, beating the $1,900 bid just seconds before.

The pinto filly, known officially as N2BHS-M, was foaled in the area of the Assateague Island State Park campground on Memorial Day. It was the only foal born on the Maryland side of the barrier island this year. In the 1970s, the National Park Service began naming new foals in the Assateague herd with an alpha-numeric code to help track the lineage of the wild horses and identify to which sub-herd they belonged and the areas they frequented on the island.

However, the AIA several years back began holding various contests and auctions to provide residents and visitors to name the new foals added to the herd each year. Through its Adopt-A-Horse program, AIA has conducted numerous auctions in recent years with the funds raised dedicated to its advocacy programs for the benefit of the wild horses.

Rash has chosen the name “Susi Sole” for the pinto filly, a tribute to her Italian heritage and her fond memories of Assateague.

“Susi is my maiden name, the name of my grandparents, grandfather, aunts and uncles, who emigrated from Italy, all very strong, family-oriented people,” she said. “While most people will think her name is just ‘Suzy,’ my family will know she is carrying our family name.”

Rash said the second part of the new foal’s name comes from fond memories of her grandfather and warm summer days on the barrier island.

“I remember my grandfather singing the song ‘You are My Sunshine’ to the great-grandchildren and we all enjoy that sunshine on Assateague,” she said. “So for me, choosing the name ‘Susi Sole’ is a personal one, a way to honor and remember my family. I visit Assateague frequently and will look forward to seeing Susi grow strong and live her life roaming the island with her family.”

“Susi Sole” was birthed by experienced mother Carol’s Girl (N2BHS) on Memorial Day. Both mother and daughter are members of Yankee’s band, who are currently living in the developed zone of the park. She is often seen in and around the campground area in the state park and is known for its curiosity and friendliness toward visitors, although as always, park officials remind visitors to enjoy the wild horses from a safe distance.

The birth of “Susi Sole” in May brought the island’s native horse population to 102, which is close to the ideal range of 80-100. While three to five are berthed in a typical year, an in-kind number drop off due to old age, illness or other natural or man-made factors. However, the Memorial Day foal is the only one to date in 2014.

In the interest of managing the size of the herd, which, if left unchecked would overtake the barrier island and gobble up the very resources the wild ponies need to survive, the National Park Service several years ago began a contraceptive program for the mares in the herd. The mares are injected with a non-invasive contraceptive to prevent multiple births in an effort to maintain and ultimately shrink the size of the herd to its manageable threshold. In the interest of maintaining the gene pool of the famous wild ponies, believed to be descendants of domesticated horses placed on the island 300 years ago, each mare is allowed to birth one foal before being put on the contraceptive program.