Online Auction For Horse Naming Rights Nears End

ASSATEAGUE — The clock is ticking on a unique opportunity to name one of the four new foals born on Assateague this year with an online auction set to expire on Monday.

Each year, the Assateague Island Alliance (AIA) auctions the naming rights to a foal born into the wild horse herd on the Maryland side of the barrier island and a current auction is set to expire on Monday. The annual Foal Naming Rights Charitable Auction, active on eBay since last Friday, will allow the successful bidder to name the foal currently known only by his rather generic and scientific moniker N9BM-JO.

The foal is a sorrel colt birthed last November by the mare Giggles. The new foal and his mom Giggles currently roam the developed area of the Assateague Island National Seashore. The foal’s sire is likely a stallion known as Joy based on the markings and past interactions with Giggles. However, Giggles and her foal currently roam with a band led by the sire Bodacious Bob.

The foal’s current designation, N9BM-JO, is taken from an alpha-numeric system put in place by the National Park Service decades ago to track the lineage and ancestry of the wild horses and identify to which sub-herd they belong and the areas they frequent on the island. The on-line eBay auction for the new foal opened last Friday at $300. By mid-day on Thursday, nine bids had been received, the highest coming in at $380.

The current foal-naming auction is one of four conducted by the AIA this year and comes at a time when some good, light-hearted news is needed concerning the health of the fames wild horses on the barrier island. This week, a popular favorite on the island, Charmed, had to be euthanized over health issues, while earlier this month, another popular wild horse on Assateague named Jester was struck and killed by a vehicle the entrance to the island.

All in all, there were four new foals birthed on the barrier island this year, while five wild horses perished. The total population is now at 88, which is right in the desired population range of 80 to 100.

The AIA, a friends group of the Assateague Island National Seashore, which advocates on behalf of the wild horse population, will utilize the proceeds from the naming auction to help fund its new “A Fed Horse is a Dead Horse” initiative.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.