Raffle Ticket Leads To Horse Naming

BERLIN — A local resident got a rare opportunity last week to name an aging wild horse on Assateague, but there are ample chances upcoming to name the latest additions to the population of the island’s most famed residents.

During Berlin’s Octoberfest celebration along Main Street last weekend, Sally Hawkins of Bishopville took a chance on a $5 raffle ticket and was rewarded with an opportunity to assign a name to a 24-year-old wild horse on Assateague.

For reasons unknown, the wild horse, formally known as M2EINS, had gone over two decades without a proper name before the Assateague Island Alliance (AIA), the friends group of the Assateague Island National Seashore which advocates on behalf the wild horse population on the island, held a raffle during Berlin’s Octoberfest celebration.

Hawkins bought a $5 raffle ticket and quickly named the light sorrel mare “Freedom.” The AIA each year hosts a variety of naming rights auctions for new foals born on Assateague each year and last weekend held the raffle in Berlin to name the aging horse born on the island in 1994. For her part, Hawkins was grateful for the opportunity.

“Thank for the opportunity to name this beautiful mare Freedom,” she said. “I picked that name because I know that she will always be free on this magnificent island. My quest is to site Freedom in her native habitat. Long live Freedom.”

Meanwhile, the AIA is planning three eBay naming auctions for the three foals born on the barrier island this year. Proceeds from the naming auctions are used to help fund the organization’s various advocacy programs for the island’s wild horse population. For example, last year the AIA started the “A Fed Horse is a Dead Horse” program, an outreach program aimed and educating the public of the dangers of feeding and interacting with the wild animals.

One of the AIA’s online eBAy naming rights auctions for a pinto colt born on Aug. 17 opened on Thursday to robust early bidding. The auction began on Thursday with a minimum opening bid of $500 and just a few hours in, seven bids had been offered, driving the price up to near $700. The auction remains open for 10 days and that number will almost certainly increase. Last year, an online auction for naming rights for an Assateague foal drew a record $7,900.

Another eBay auction for a sorrel colt born in mid-September opens on Nov. 13 and will remain open for 10 days. The third and final AIA online eBay naming rights auction for a sorrel filly born last April opens on No. 28 and will also remain open for 10 days, taking it right into the heart of the holiday shopping season.

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.