how horses are named

But how are horse names decided?

  • Many times it’s completely random, but sometimes the breed registries have rules to be followed.

 

For Thoroughbred horses:

 

  • This is sort of a two-parter. The Jockey Club handles registrations and names and all sorts of other things, and they still follow a rule from the 1800s about the birthday of a racehorse. It’s on January 1. No matter when your horse was born. A horse born on December 31st turns one the next day and becomes a yearling. A horse born on January 2 turns one the NEXT January. But they are the “same age”.

 

  • OK, the names. The Jockey Club wants to have a list of your horse’s name possibilities by February 1 of your horse’s second birthday. Otherwise, you may need to pay a fee. It seems easy, right? Except for all of the rules. All 17 of them. Here are the highlights:

 

    • Only 18 letters, including spaces and punctuation, or less.

 

    • No names that are only initials, such as O.M.G.

 

    • Numbers are another thing to think about. No names that are only numbers, but you could spell out a number above 30. And no 2nds, or 3rds, etc.

 

    • Nothing branded, like Professional Equine Groom’s Slow Poke. Also, that has too many letters.

 

    • No names that could be thought of as obscene or vulgar.

 

    • No names that are considered permanent, like big winners, famous horses, recent horses in your horse’s lineage, etc. You also can’t slightly alter a name, like turning Secretariat into Secretariato. Or something like that.

 

 

  • Then your horse’s name goes up for approval, which is why you submit many of them! The complete list of rules for naming your TB can be found here.

 

But what about the Quarter Horse?

 

  • Well this is a bit easier, and you have a few more spaces to play with. The AQHA handles registrations, and they are a bit more chill with the rules than the Jockey Club.

 

    • You are limited to 20 characters.

 

    • You can also use numbers, like PEG Slow Poke 2

 

    • If your horse’s name sounds like another, it’s fine.

 

    • Spelling does matter, however, and spaces are taken into account.

 

    • No vulgarity or the like.

 

 

wood stall door with horse name plate

 

 

What about warmbloods?

 

  • This is where it gets a bit confusing, and can vary between the US and Europe for the same breed of horse. The rules are also sometimes flexible for naming fillies and colts, but generally speaking, the guidelines are specific to each breed registry. It’s very common that the first letter of the sire’s name should be the first letter of the foal’s name. In some cases, you can use the first letter of the dam’s name.

 

  • It’s also quite common in Europe that the horse is registered to the breed registry named after the location in Europe that it was born.

 

  • For Oldenburg horses, you may name your colt after the first letter of the sire’s name. You may name your filly after the first letter of the dam’s name unless you will not breed her. In that case, you can use either the first letter of the sire or dam’s name.

 

  • For Hanovarian horses, it’s also a case of first letter naming. All foals use the first letter of the sire’s name. Unless it’s a colt who shall remain a stallion if he’s descended from the F-W line. Names of approved stallions can only be used once, so better make it a good one. Unless you have a full brother, which can use the same name if you add 2, II, or something like that. You have 20 character spaces in which to name your little dude or dudette.

 

  • For the RPSI registry, we are going again with the first letter of the sire’s name. Unless you want to name your filly after the dam’s first letter.

 

  • For the KWPN horses out there, your birth year takes the lead. Each year is assigned a letter, and all foals must be named using that letter. In Europe and the US, some letters like Q are skipped. Thankfully. The 2020 letter for naming foals is P.

 

  • If your horse is Westphalian, you are more than happy to enjoy the simplest of rules by naming your horse after the first letter of the sire’s name.

horse's name on bracelet

 

 

And how to find a barn name for your horse? Well, that’s entirely up to you.