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The Name Game

Horses are named all kinds of things: some aim for the more classic names like “Spot” for an appaloosa, “Blaze” for a horse with a blaze, and so on. As times have changed, so have names. Like an opinionated horse woman, I have formed strong opinions about names use given to horses: some are cute, and some just aren’t. Here are kinds of names I adore, and three I truly hate:

Love:

  1. Famous People. Having ridden a ‘Anne Sullivan’, a ‘ Sammy David Jr.’, and a ‘Gandhi’, I will admit that there is something innately cute about horses named after famous people (given that they are not named after someone bad). Naming your horse after Barack Obama in my eyes is too cheesy, and naming your horse ‘OJ Simpson’ shows a lack of taste…but hearing horses named ‘Clark Kent’, ‘Jane Eyre’, and ‘John Wayne’ do make me smile. Naming your mare ‘Helen Keller’ isn’t recommended….just for superstitious reasons.
  2. Food. Admit it, when ponies are named after food, it can be hopelessly adorable. My own horse, Crackerjack fits his nam perfectly. I’ve sat on several horses named ‘Popcorn’, ‘Oreo’, ‘Spud’, and even a few ponies named ‘Hershey’. You can never really go wrong with food names: even ‘Figgy Pudding’ puts a smile on your face.
  3. Classic. When in doubt, the tried-and-true names are sometimes the best option. ‘Splash’, ‘Dancer’, and ‘Spot’ are all classic names that you can feel comfortable telling your kids. Especially with ponies, keeping it simple can be easier for kids to remember: try explaining to a 4-year-old that their pony’s name is ‘Corsair’ or ‘Chardonnay’ and see how that goes.
  4. Song titles / Lyrics. Admittedly, the most classic kid-friendly song titles and lyrics are the best to use. I’ve heard of a few very cute ‘Rocket Man’ ponies, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ jumpers, and ‘Sweet Carolina’ New England ponies. A good rule to go by, is if you can’t tell your grandmother your horse’s show name…don’t use it. An example? I’d steer clear of any song by ‘Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, 50 Cent, Steel Panther, or any song that involves the word ‘b-itches’ or ‘h-es’.

Hate:

  1. Rappers. Now before I go into this, I will concede that some names lend themselves well to horses: ‘Slim Shady’ is a good fit for a slim darker horse, and I would be impressed to compete against a horse named ‘Immortal Technique’ or ‘Idle Warship’….I might even take my hat off to a ‘Hopsin’ with two blue eyes. That being said, I cringe whenever I hear that someone has named their horse (showname, mind you) ‘Free Weezy’, ‘Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em’, or ‘Birdman’. I can understand devotion to these artists….but at least with equitation horses, I feel like seeing ‘Free Weezy’ or ‘Gucci Gucci’ on the scoreboard during a prestigious competition kills the mood somewhat. But like I said, I’m split on this: if the name fits the horse, I am willing to endorse it. I can see ‘Teach Me How To Dougie” taking off….or even “Gangnam Style” becoming the next hot pony showname.
  2. Branded Alcohol. I genuinely don’t enjoy when horses come in with brand name liquor names. It just doesn’t feel classy….even ‘Grey Goose’ feels a bit forced. Similarly, I don’t think its in any way classy to name a pony after liquor when the kid on him is well under 21. Somehow, types of wine never seem that bad: ‘Chablis’ actually sounds pretty classy, as does ‘Merlot’: Somehow ‘Gin and Juice’ and ‘Jose Cuervo’ don’t have the same ring to it.
  3. Drugs. I have rarely heard of any horses with drug-influenced names. Very rarely. But as a warning, I sincerely hope no one starts by naming their mare ‘Have You Found Molly?’, ‘Heroin’, or ‘Opium’. Just don’t.
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