Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Naming a Horse

I don't know about you, but naming a horse has not come easy for me. Oh sure, as a kid, naming every Breyer horse in your collection was a piece of cake. And they all had grand, fancy names like, "Wicked Mountain Lightning" (because when you are 7 years old, 3 big words together is a super impressive name!). Then you actually are priveleged to own a real, live horse and suddenly the name takes on a new level of importance.

My first horse came with his name, "Tally Ho". He was a lesson horse I fell in love with as a kid and my unsuspecting parents bought for me (figuring if I actually had to care for a horse and see how much work it was I'd quit. Nope, I'm no quitter!). His name was cute, English and just suited him, so we left it.

The second horse was my dad's horse. He had no name when we bought him. His coat was a deep coffee brown with a flaxen mane and tail. His personality was very, very laid back. Somehow, "decaffeinated" was a good word to describe him. We named him, "Sanka". I think my mom named him, (she had just switched to decaf back then!)

My mare, "Alta", came with her name. Her Jockey Club papered name was "Alto Speranze". In Italian it translates to, "High Hope". With her high-and-mighty attitude, that name just fit her. Several Italian friends commented on the mixing of gender since the name was in the masculine and my horse was a mare (wishful thinking on the part of the breeder?). So I changed the vowels when I registered her with the AHSA (now the USEF) to "Alta Speranza". I kept her name since several people in the local horse show world also knew her from the track since she was a NY-bred thoroughbred. With a name like that, I knew if they heard it over the loudspeaker at the shows, they'd know it was her. What I didn't foresee was how the name was often mispronounced by announcers at the shows! Alpo(No, NOT a good thing to hear your horse called!!!), Aldo, Spranza, Seperanza were some of the typos that were read to my disappointment.

So when Monty came along, I knew I wanted a simple name. One that had a low risk of being mispronounced, misspelled, and misunderstood. It was harder than I thought. I came up with names based on his color, the time of year, etc. and hated all of them. Then, sometime into the 2 weeks I was trying him it came to me, "Solitaire". A game you play by yourself. A single diamond. That kind of summed up the circumstances in his case and it was elegant and easy. Somehow at the same time, we just started calling him, "Monty" as his barn name and it stuck. It suited him.

And now I have,"Rugby". That's not the name he had before I chose him. In the truck, on the way home from the lady's house after we went to see him, my husband and I were talking and I turned to him and said, "You know, if he's the one, I already have a name picked out."
My husband was surprised, "Really? But he has a name."
"I'm going to call him, Rugby" I said.
"Hey, I like that!" mused my husband, "Where did that come from?"
"I don't know, it just came to me and it suits him." I replied.

I know where it came from. My husband loves Ralph Lauren clothes. He's especially fond of their "Rugby" collection, which in it's early days featured several pieces with a really cool skull and crossbones motif on a black background. This big, burly black and white horse made me think of that and it's a name that sounds cute when you say it but the sport is in reality a rough and tough game. My husband is kind of cute but also kind of a rough and tumble guy.

My husband is the one who pushed me to go look at this horse, he just liked him the moment he saw pictures of him and told me he had a good feeling about this animal. He felt my pain and everything I went through when I lost Monty. He loves animals and has a good eye for a good animal. I joked with him I was going to let him choose this horse since at this point I'm kinda picky. And this horse has turned out to be so wonderful for me.

So it's a little sappy but, the name came to me in a connection between husband and horse. My husband is my best friend, I guess I wanted that good karma with a new horse, too.

So, there are my horse naming stories. I'd be curious to hear from readers if they have any horse naming stories to share. If you have a blog and already have written about naming your horse, post the link and we'll catch up to everyone's story!


Mrs Mom said...

Oh thats fantastic!! I love his name, and how the connection is there between you and the Love Of Your Life too. Awesome! ;)

I dont have any good naming stories. They pretty much all had their names, and while I might twist them now and again to make a nickname, I never had any really clever ideas. (Hence Sonny is still "Sonny" LOL)

Give Rugby a pat from us!

Once Upon an Equine said...

I love the names you and your family picked out for your horses. Cute that your mom picked Sanka upon going decaf herself. Funny about the mispronunciation of Alto. Rugby is a nice name and I like how you came to it and that your husband is part of it.

I'm terrible at naming any animal. I've kept the names my past horses came with until Marley. I caught some flack with Misty's name from folks who thought it was too common, but I'd already come to love her as Misty and can't see her as anything else. Marley though, I had to change his name. It was Buster. That's very fitting considering he had been allowed to develop some ornery issues. But I wanted a new name for his new start in life. I brainstormed several and wrote them on a piece of paper, including some based on his registered name. My husband liked Marley the best. And it rolls well with "Misty and Marley" and they have become the M&Ms which is my favorite candy. I do intend to post about that sometime.

Nicku said...

Naming IS difficult, I even bought a little book of horse names one time to try to figure out what to call one of my ponies. One of my horses was named "Blue" when I got him and I just thought that was too sad of a name for such a nice horse so I re-named him "Navy", suited him PERFECT. My leopard appy was named Mosaic when I bought him and that name just wasnt a fit for this delightful little guy so he went nameless for over a month before I decided on Pongo (like as in 101 Dalmations). I just bought a new mare and her name is Punahou, now in Hawaii this is a really famous name but just not the right fit for her (read: BIG TIME misprounounciation at shows) I really want to change it but not sure to what...she is a Selle Francais so I'm thinking something French? Ideas anyone???!!! You can see pics of her on my blog...

Anonymous said...

I've posted on naming horses on my blog, ayearwithhorses.blogspot.com, with a link to you. I love horse names, and coming up with horse names - this was a major thing I spend time on when I was a child, even for made-up horses.

Love the name Rugby, and the story!

Five O'Clock Somewhere said...

I love the name Rugby and how it came to be. My last three horses I have named after musicians (barn names). My husband started that theme.

English Rider said...

I had already complimented you on the name. I imagined a connection between his bold colors and the black and white striped team shirts of rugby players.
There is a quote I love that Football is a game for Gentlemen, played by Hooligans and Rugby is a game for Hooligans, played by Gentlemen.
In response to Nicku, there are several names that keep the P initial and are the same word in French and English: Pristine, Parfait, Perfection...Marine is both a translation of Navy and could be Bleu Marine, Navy Blue to go back to your previous horse's name.

SolitaireMare said...

English Rider - I have heard of that rugby quote! Thank you for reminding me! I am going to add it to my quotes section at the top of my page!
And yes, you are also right about the bold patterns of the rugby shirts. The horse does make me think of a big, sturdy rugby guy, but with a soft heart and kind disposition! :)

Katie said...

I LOVE NAMING ANIMALS. Especially horses. If there was a full time animal naming job, I would go for it lol. I am def going to write a post on this on my blog.

Rugby is a great name! Although I don't play rugby, its NZ's national game so I feel a affiliation with it. It holds a special place in my heart and I really like it on your boy!

Jean said...

Great story about Rugby's name. It's perfect!

My Toby's show name, To Be Or Not To Be, was suggested by a friend when I was trying to think of a better name than "Pete," or "Arts Ruler," his registered, track name. I am an English teacher and I love Shakespeare, so there you go. Then, I adopted Tucker, whose real name is Doitright Tobe, and I had new problem because I already had a Toby. Somehow Tucker suited as a barn name, but he still shows under his "real name."

Grey Horse Matters said...

Great name and what a great connection. I have a few stories about names but my favorite one is for our first paint Lifeguard. He had a pink nose and many years ago there was no sunblock, his nose would blister in the sun so they put white zinc on it to protect him. Lifeguards at the beach used the zinc and so he became the Lifeguard. Greatest horse we've ever owned.

jackie said...

Great name with a great story! Those are the best.

My boy came named Ace, which is great for a brn name, but is registered Ace Brown, which stinks for showing. I'm no good at coming up with names, so I got help from my blog readers. I wanted a one word name that had "ace" somewhere in it. Going for classy and meaningful. They came up with some great ideas! My favorites were Acesential, Ascension, and Audacious. In the end I went with Ascension. It implies good things whether we end up in hunters or dressage, and is motivating for my slightly lazy horse with forward issues. Thank goodness for those awesome blog readers!

Heather said...


Love the names...I wish I would have known to ask blogger peeps for some inspiration when I was looking for a name!


WarPony said...

Brego came with his name. I had picked out the name Brisco (from two sources, one from The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (I <3 Bruce Campbell in a way that is indecent for a happily married woman to <3 anyone who isn't her husband) and also from the character Lennie Brisco on Law & Order (R.I.P.). But Brego sounds close and has a good geeky source, and it fits my name theme for boy horses (names from media).

Usually I have a name before I have the animal, then I have to find the animal that fits the name. That is how it was with my dog Nigel, and my ponies Jamie and Lilly. (Jamie was named after the main character in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, Red Jamie... because he was red haired, and handsome, and Scottish, lol)

Otherwise they usually tell me their name.

Brego doesn't seem to really LOVE his name. He is ambivalent about it. He seems to like it better when I call him any number of pet names ranging from Breggy to Sasquatch to Disco Dave the Retro Pony (because of his bell bottoms). I think he is responding to the affection more thn the name.

Sparrow loves his name. Mary doesn't give a crap as long as you give her food while using it. Mary had her name when I bought her. I almost changed it to Betty or Whisky. Those were two names I had picked out for black mares (my mare naming theme is names from songs, Black Betty and Whiskey, If You Were a Woman, by Highway 101). But Mary just fits her sooo well! And there are several good songs with Mary in them.

I have a dream to someday have a matched 4 in hand team of bay pinto marked mini horses named Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. *is ashamed*