Horse Names



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Updated: February 13, 2014

Horse Names




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  A name is a name, right?  

Well, if you are a horse owner, you know just how wrong that statement is.  Horse owners go to great lengths to find that perfect name, just as human parents take a great deal of time and consideration for the special name for their new bundle of joy.



  So, what's in a name? 

A horse's name can come to be as a result of many prevailing factors.  Aside from just being a nice name or the favorite choice of the owner, there may be other very specific requirements one must consider based on the breed, origin, and registry.  For example, let's look at Canadian Horses as explained by Brenda Pantling of Hidden Meadow Farm:

"The Canadian Horse names are lengthy and sound rather pompous, however you can tell a lot about a horse from his name. The names contain three parts: the herd name, the sire's name, and the subject's name beginning with the letter assigned to the year of birth.


The Herd Name

Canadian Horse breeders register a herd name with the Canadian Horse Breeders Association to use when naming all foals born to mares they own. This herd name may be the person's last name, their farm name, or another name that they select. For example: "Hidden Meadow Star Gambit" and "Hidden Meadow Charbon Fargo" are not related at all, but Hidden Meadow Farm owned both of their mothers at the time of their births.


The Sire's Name

Only one stallion may use a last name. All foals sired by the stallion will have his name in the middle of it's registered name. For example, "Hidden Meadow Adanac Hudson" was sired by the stallion "Adanac" (Piggott Xavier Adanac). The horses "Cosyland Lalou Desiree" and "Piggott Lalou Shimmreee" have the same sire.


Assigned Letters

Each year has been assigned a letter (letter G for 1997, H for 1998, J for 1999, etc.) and foals will have the last part of their name beginning with that letter for the year of their birth. "Hidden Meadow Adanac Jamieson" was born in 1999, "Rose's Velour Dolly-April" was born in 1994. While this part of the naming proceedures has been inforced in recent years, that was not always the case. Many older horses do not have names beginning with the letter representing the year of their birth.

As you become familiar with Canadian Horses and Canadian Horse breeders, you will be able to tell a lot about a horse by picking out the information contained in its registered name."



  Registered Names  

Certain breed registries also have rules and guidelines for naming a horse.  Let's look at the Jockey Club rules for naming a Thoroughbred for an example:

A Thoroughbred must be named by February of its 2-year-old year or a late fee will be charged. Six names in order of preference are submitted by the owner and the Jockey Club will decide which they can have. Names can be changed for a fee unless the horse has already raced or been bred. Names can be up to 18 characters, including spaces and punctuation. All names must be approved by the Jockey Club and there are a lot of rules about what you can't use:

  • No initials such as C.O.D., F.O.B., etc.
  • No names ending in "filly," "colt," "stud," "mare," "stallion," or any similar horse-related term
  • No names consisting entirely of numbers, except numbers above thirty may be used if they are spelled out
  • No names ending with a numerical designation such as "2nd" or "3rd," whether or not such a designation is spelled out
  • No names of persons unless written permission to use their name is on file with The Jockey Club
  • No names of race tracks or graded stakes races
  • No names clearly having commercial significance, such as trade names
  • No names that are suggestive or have a vulgar or obscene meaning; names considered in poor taste; or names that may be offensive to religious, political or ethnic groups
  • No names from the restricted list (Hall of Fame members, Eclipse Awards winners, Kentucky Derby winners, etc. To see all names that meet the restriction requirement check here in rule 6(F)(15).
The list of rules and restrictions is much longer than this and you can view them all here. The suggestive names restriction is the one many people try to get around with creative spellings such as Hoof Hearted, Isitingood, or Peony's Envy. You can browse the list of names currently in use or restricted at the Online Names Book. Names currently in use or which sound too much like them can't be reused until 5 years after the horse has left racing and/or breeding.

As you can see, there are a lot of requirements to meet when selecting a name so it can often be a tough task coming up with six names you like to send in on your request. If you are careful to check the Online Names Book to make sure your choices are not currently in use or reserved, it ultimately it comes down to whether the Jockey Club likes the names you selected and they can be quite picky.



  Changing a Registered Name  

Even to change a horse's registered name can be difficult to impossible, not to mention expensive.  As mentioned above in the Jockey Club guidelines, if the horse has already been raced or bred, you cannot change the name.  Let's look at the Swedish Warmblood Association of North America for another example:

Horse Name Changes

ASVH strongly discourages the changing of a horse's registered name. Nicknames (or show names) can be entered into the SWANA database at no charge without changing the name recorded on the horse's registration papers.

To change the horse's registered name, the current owner of the horse must send the following to SWANA:

  1. The original registration papers for the horse.
  2. A signed letter requesting the name change.
  3. A name change fee of $500.




As you can see, naming your new equine friend can be a daunting task.  You could have to consider breed and registry specific guidelines for your horse's name.  You may also consider your horse's show name, and/or his every day barn name.

Whether you have a brand new baby horse to name, or you want to rename a horse, finding the perfect name can be both fun and a bit of work.  Therefore, in an attempt to make the task somewhat easier, we have compiled the following links to assist you.  So when you think your brain just cannot think of anymore names, perhaps these links will provide you some new ides and inspiration.



  Link List  








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