The Name Game

What goes into crafting the perfect name?


2016 Colt by Its A Southern Thing

Some people find it fun and others find it tedious.  However you see it, naming a new foal is something most people don’t take lightly.  Not only does it stay with a horse their entire lives, but a catchy name can be memorable when called out in the show ring.

There are many different factors that go into crafting the perfect name.  Some incorporate bloodlines.  Some like to give a nod to the breeder or farm name.  Sometimes names have special meanings like a story or a memory.  Some like to think completely outside the box.

Everyone has a name they’ve heard that sticks in their memory, either good or bad.  So, how do you create a winning moniker?  Before you get your creative juices flowing, it’s important to know your guardrails.  The various associations and registries have differing rules when it comes to name selection, and it saves time and headaches to know them before you go too far down a rabbit hole and fall in love with a name you might not be able to use.

American Quarter Horse Association

Rule 214: NAMING A HORSE. Each horse for which registration is applied must be given a name, acceptable to AQHA, which does not conflict with the name of any other horse registered with the association, either living or dead. The name must not exceed 20 characters, including letters, numbers and blank spaces. The use of a single letter (initial) preceding or following a name is not allowed. The first two to four spaces and/or last two to four spaces of the 20 characters may consist of a group of any two to four letters, if separate from the remainder of the name. Roman numerals are not permitted in a name. Arabic numerals can only be used in the last three to five spaces of the 20 characters and it must be separate from the remainder of the name. Punctuation marks, such as apostrophes or hyphens, are not permitted.

In the digital age, AQHA, among other associations, has made it easier to determine if your name selection has already been used.  In their Members area, you can enter the name and it will give you a list of either the name that has already been used or a list of names that are close in spelling.

American Paint Horse Association

RG-090. Naming a Horse A. Each horse offered for registration must be given a name acceptable to APHA, not to exceed twenty-one (21) letters and spaces, which does not conflict with the name of any other APHA-registered horse. 62 B. No Arabic or Roman numerals or punctuation marks, i.e. apostrophes, are permitted in a name. C. A name may be reserved for a period of one (1) year from the date the written request is received. A Name Reservation fee must accompany the written request. If the name is not used within the one-year time period, the name will be released without notice, unless prior to the expiration of the reservation, the name is again reserved for another year period and the appropriate fee is again paid. See fee schedule in front of Rule Book.

APHA also has a similar feature online where you can check the availability of the name before submitting.  With paints and other color breeds, markings and colors can also play a part in coming up with a fitting name.

For double registered horses, some have the same name across multiple associations, while others may have an eligible name in one association, but the name isn’t available in the other.  This can lead to slight variations of the name depending on which association they are registered with.

What happens if you purchase a horse whose name you are not so enthusiastic about?  In most cases, you’re probably stuck with the name.  However, there are certain instances, depending on association rules, where you can rename your horse.  AQHA states, “A horse’s name may be changed so long as it has not competed in an AQHA-approved show or special event, started in a recognized race; earned a special achievement recognition award as per SHW817; earned any money or award with an AQHA affiliate as shown on AQHA records; appeared on any breeding document submitted to AQHA.” (2016 AQHA Handbook, REG118).  If your horse already has an AQHA show or race record (even if they haven’t earned any points) or a breeding record, their name is their name and there is no way to change it in AQHA’s records.  Same goes for APHA.  If they have an APHA race, show, or breeding record, the name can’t be changed.

As we gear up for the 2017 breeding season, we look forward to new foals and all the things that come with them (aside from the sleepless nights).  If you have a creative mind, the registration process can be a fun one.  If not, it can be a hassle. But once you land on the right name, you never know.  It might just be called out as a world champion some day.


Moonpie and Keeping It Good Foals – Gumz Farms


Answers: 1.d., 2.g., 3.e., 4.a., 5.f., 6.j., 7.c., 8.i., 9.h., 10.b.

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