How to Name a Horse

Three Methods:Creating a Registered NameFinding a Barn NameNaming a Thoroughbred Racehorse

If you are the proud owner of a new foal or horse, congratulations! You now have the fun but often challenging task of naming your four-legged companion. Luckily, wikiHow is here to help you through the process of giving your horse the perfect name.

Method 1
Creating a Registered Name

Foals need to be registered, and to do this you need a registered name. This can be fancy or long; generally, you'll also have a shorter barn name to call him (see Method Three for barn name ideas).

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    Consider his breeding and pedigree. Often, breed registries have rules or guidelines for the registered names of horses. Run an online search for any rules that might govern the naming of your type of foal. (For rules on naming a thoroughbred racehorse, see Method Three).
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    Many barns and breeders use prefixes for horses they breed. Don't run the risk of using their name without permission! Horses' registered names may be derived from those of their sire and dam. You can run an online source for registered horse names.
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    Know the traditions observed when naming horses. Consider taking the registered name of your horse from the registered names of the horse's parents. In horse breeding, lineage means a lot. Of course, naming your horse after his mom or dad could also have sentimental value.[1]
    • Cabot French Pepper and KVA Hi Time, for example, may lead to a foal named SP Peppertime (in this case, 'Cabot,' 'KVA,' and 'SP' are all prefixes used exclusively by the breeders for their foals).
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    Come up with an original name. If you don’t particularly care about deriving a name from your foal’s parentage, consider coming up with your own name. Some factors you should consider when naming your horse include appearance, personality, and what you are hoping your horse will do.
    • Appearance: Does your horse have a unique marking, or a beautiful color worth naming him after? For a horse with a white streak down his forehead (known as a blaze) you might consider naming him Wild Fire or When Lightning Strikes.
    • Personality: Is your horse affectionate, wild, or just a tad mean? A nice horse could be named Honey, a wild one named Midnight Madness, and a mean one named GrumpsMcGee.
    • Occupation: Is your horse going to race? Get featured in parades? Give kids rides? Think about what your horse will do. If you are racing your horse, give her an attention grabbing name like Dream Supreme.
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    Fill out the registration application. If you are a stallion owner, you will be receiving a registration application in the mail when you breed your stallion. If you don’t have one of these applications, you can find the downloadable version online. The information you will need to know to fill out this form includes:
    • Date foaled
    • Breeding method
    • Embryo transfer date & number
    • Dam's name and/or registration number
    • Current breeding reports
    • Foal description including 5 photos
    • Six foal name choices
    • Other foal information
    • Tax ID or social security number
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    Note when the registered name of a horse is set. This is when the horse is registered with the breed organization; be careful not to change a horse's registered name if he already has one-- most organizations frown upon this.

Method 2
Finding a Barn Name

A horse's barn, or show, name is what you'll call him in day-to-day life; it's an informal nickname of sorts. Your horse's barn name can be whatever you'd like - there's no rules.

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    Look at the horse's registered name. Many horses will receive their barn name from a shortened version of their registered name. Try different ways of shortening your foal’s registered name. Pick something that is easy to say.
    • For example, 'ABC A Hot Summer Night' might be shortened to Night or Summer.
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    Get to know your horse. Observe his behavior to decide on possible names. Is he a bucking bronco? Does he love carrots? Don't feel limited to typical human names; horses often receive rather unique nicknames such as 007, Chubby, and BB.
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    Draw inspiration from movies, books, or TV shows. Perhaps you have a favorite movie horse that you’ve always loved (like the Horse of a Different Color in the Wizard of Oz). Run some searches on famous show horses, or horses that have played a part in history.
    • For instance, the horse Paul Revere rode on his midnight ride was named Brown Beauty. Sampson was the name of the tallest horse ever recorded, and Beau was John Wayne’s horse in the movie True Grit.
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    Let your horse help you decide. Horses often gain a barn name for themselves - a nickname, for example, could result in a barn name, or a silly thing he does. Try coming up with a name that fits his personality or appearance - "Snuggles" for a friendly horse, or "Blaze" for a horse with a blaze.
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    Visit a baby names website. Even though they're meant for humans, you might find an interesting name for your horse there! Baby name books are another option. Most importantly, use your imagination! Don't disregard silly ideas; after all, it's your horse.

Method 3
Naming a Thoroughbred Racehorse

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    Do not pick a name that exceeds 18 letters. In the case of thoroughbred names, spaces and punctuation marks count as letters so you will old be able to have a total of 18 characters. For example, ThereAndBackAgain! is an acceptable name because it has 18 characters, but There And Back Again! is not because it has 21 characters (including spaces).[2]
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    Avoid names that may be considered vulgar and offensive. While this might seem obvious, what might not be vulgar or offensive to you might be offensive to someone else. Double check that the name you pick out does not have any bad connotations that are offensive to religious, political, or ethnic groups, or that are vulgar in anyway.
    • For example, The Great Farter might be a funny name to you, but could be found vulgar by others, or might be taken as an offensive dig at God.
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    Know what other categories of names should be avoided. Thoroughbred racehorses are not allowed to have names that are all initials; they cannot have names that are clearly promoting a commercial or artistic cause; and they cannot be named after a living person unless there is a written confirmation from that person saying it is okay.
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    Do not consider naming your horse after historic victors. Any horse that has won a major race will have his or her name permanently retired. However, other names of horses that have not won major races can be recycled.
    • For example, you cannot name your racehorse Seabiscuit, though you could potentially try naming your horse Seabisquick or some other play off of a famous horse’s name.
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    Come up with a name that sounds good when yelled by hundreds of adoring fans. If you want your racehorse to be a star, you’ll need a name that fans (and gamblers) can get behind. For this reason, it may be better to pick out a shorter name, though catchy names aren’t bad either. There’s something very charming about chanting the name Ruffian (which is probably why Ruffian is racing’s greatest filly).
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    Be prepared to offer an explanation of your horse’s name if its not super apparent. The Jockey Club, which is the organization charged with recording and approving the names of racehorses, may require you to explain the name if its not very clear.
    • For example, the 1977 Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew, was named after the owners’ hometowns--Seattle, and the word for a swamp which in Florida is called a ‘slew’.[3]


  • The things in horse books, especially fiction, that are said about horse care grooming, training, etc. may not be true and may not work on your horse. Always talk to people familiar with horses before attempting to groom and train your horse.
  • Remember, no matter how much you get other people involved in the process of naming and bonding with your horse, everything about your relationship with the horse should be your decision. You should always think of other people's advice as just that: advice, not a command.

Article Info

Categories: Horses