Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On Naming Horses

A Good Horse has an interesting post on naming horses.  When I was a child, I had a series of horses that had names I made up for them - a bay mare I called Molasses Bay ("Mo"), and a little bay Quarter Horse I called Kitty, and a wonderful Quarter Horse mare called Snow (Snow's Ghost - she was almost white with blue eyes).

Then when I was grown, and married, with children getting interested in horses at around age 7 or 8, I got Noble, my wonderful old Quarter Horse gelding.  His registered name is Walla Bars Bonanza (he's got Three Bars three times in his pedigree and by my calculation is 35% Thoroughbred) - where they got Noble from that I don't know, but he is definitely Noble and I never thought of changing his name.

My older daughter's first horse was a little bay Thoroughbred named Dawson (his registered name was Slick Sheik, which is just dreadful).  Then we got Norman the pony for my younger daughter.  His show name was 14 Karat, which suited him perfectly and was well known, so we kept it.  But "Norman"?  We hated it (if there are Normans out there, please don't take offense).  We wanted to change it.  We tried different names.  He's just . . . Norman.  So we're stuck with that.

I had a wonderful unregistered Thoroughbred mare named Promise.  She came to me as Promise and stayed that way.  The name said a lot about her personality and ability.  To my great sorrow, we lost her in 2001 at the age of 10 to a fractured leg in turnout.

Then I got Lily.  Her barn name was - get ready - "Lulu" (hope there aren't any Lulus reading).  She didn't have a show name, and we believe she showed very little, although she improbably turned out to be an amazing jumper.  We just couldn't deal with Lulu.  So I came up with Lily, which sounds sort of the same, and she is almost white.  Her show name, Capriole, just came to me in a moment of inspiration while watching her do one with another rider on her.  Yes, she can do true caprioles under saddle, and will do them when excited or stressed.  She can even do them from a complete standstill.  I've been on her once when she did one, and it wasn't that hard to ride - not at all like a buck (for one thing, your reins go loose since the head comes up and back, not down) - but rather exciting!  Capriole just expressed her fire and athleticism.

Dawn is a off-the-track Thoroughbred, and her registered name is Silent Dawn, which is sort of awful - makes me think of dead birds or something.  But Dawn's OK, and that's how she came to us.

I got Maisie after my older daughter started riding Lily in jumpers (Lily made it very clear that she wasn't interested in the hunter thing).  Poor thing, she came with no name.  Almost instantly, though, the name Maisie struck me - I can't imagine why as I know no one named Maisie and don't even think I know of anyone named Maisie.  It just seemed sweet and old fashioned to me.  Her show name was harder - I'm partial to one-word, easy-to-pronounce show names.  I made a long, long list of possibilities - and came up with Intrigue.  Don't know where that came from either, but it works.


  1. Hey Kate! Thanks for linking to my post! I enjoyed reading about your horses' name stories and I have to say, I LOVE the name "Intrigue"!

  2. I like your horses names. We hardly ever change the names they come with, I'm terrible of thinking up names for anything.
    We had a norman cob we once rescued off the meat wagon and named him Norman for our sheer lack of imagination, he was the sweetest thing ever. The girl we sold him to for a dollar took him to New Hampshire where we hope he is living out his life peacefully.

  3. the name slick shiek got me laughing! What were they thinking! I loved hearing all about your names!

  4. The name Capriole is amazing! I saw a Lippizaner stallions doing a capriole once but would love to see a 'normal' horse do one (not that I believe your horse is just 'normal').

  5. Katie - no, whatever Lily is, the word normal doesn't come to mind - look for some of my past posts on Lily if you want the flavor - but of course Lily thinks it's normal for her!

  6. I don't often change the names they come with either unless...like "Slick Sheik" they are that bad. Toby's registered name, Arts Ruler is OK, but it has no personality, so he is an AKA Arts Ruler. *G*

    Love the simple names, actually, but I have to admit, the fun names are the pet names we actually call them in the secret shadows of the barn. (Sweetie, Snuggums...etc. *lol*)

  7. Hi Kate,
    Most of our herd additions now come from 'within' so we have the enviable(?) position of naming them ourselves, and often it can be a head scratcher. Barn names we come up with pretty quickly - DeeDee, Sammie, Moon . . .it's the registered names that sometime's are stumpers. Finding a "C" name for Chloe's filly (my next post - FW III) is not too hard, but since Chloe is offically Her Highness . . . well, "H" filly names, not already taken, are a bit harder to come by, and as you and others have alluded to we'd like to capture their personality. Sigh . . . oh the things I loose sleep over . . . :]

  8. I like all of your names - it sounds like they just work for your horses. Slick Sheik does make you shake your head though. I had a TB off the track whose Jockey Club name was Wedgemaster - how awful. The lady I bought him from had named him Bravo and it worked for him.

  9. I am not good with coming up with names fast. I had a foal this spring and I think it took me 2 weeks after he was born to name him...we chose Romeo. He is a little palomino stud colt and suits him well! I also have a big QH who just fit the name of Chaps, they called him matrix before we got him, but apparently the daughter of the family kept changing his name, so I decided I might as well call him something I like! My old arab came with the name Tizz (registered name Lady Tiazz), my 3 year old we named Zorro, my two miniature horses names are Nugit and Buttercup (buttercup is a light colored palomino). They both came with those names. Oh, and my 2 year old I named Lady Kai, her sire's name was Binerio Kai and she just seemed like a Kai to me :), it also took me a while to name her and I knew I was getting her 3 months before I did, because I picked her out and then once she was weaned I got her.

    That covers all my horses, names are such an interesting subject!

  10. Names are so much fun pondering, I think. I usually have a name pop into my head as you've mentioned, and that's just who they are. Have no idea where they come from, but that's just what happens. I usually don't like to change a horse's name unless it really doesn't suit them either. Our horses all know their names and you can call any one of them in from the pasture. I like the name Maisie very much.
    Sorry about your cold weather. Hope you get some warm, spring sunshine very soon.


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