PATRICIA SMITH: The Art of Naming a Horse
I was on a road trip with a friend last weekend and we started comparing notes on horse names on the way back to Southern Pines.
So what makes a great name? It depends what the breed of the horse is and what his or her job is. Some of the best names I've heard were show horses. They are not as limited as to what they can be named as are racehorses.
Thorough-bred names have to be approved by The Jockey Club. There is a lengthy list of rules. For instance Thoroughbred names cannot consist of more than 18 letters. Names cannot be used that are suggestive or have a vulgar or obscene meaning, and no names that are currently active either in racing or breeding can be used.
Registered horses of any breed often include the name of the sire and the dam.
My Thoroughbred, whose registered name is Real Burn, had a sire named Fantasy In Reality and a dam named Burnville.
Other names are a humorous take-off on a parent name. There was a horse named Plastered out of a mare called Tipples. And here is another good one -- a filly named Shopaholic out of a mare named A Girl Needs Cash.
If you are naming a race horse, you want to pick a name that is worthy of a Kentucky Derby winner and will also sound good over the loudspeaker as the horse comes down the final stretch. Can you imagine the announcer calling the race in which "Lame Jane" "Lags Behind" "Really Bad News."
One-word names seem to roll off the tongue easily and sound good in the winner's circle.
Secretariat, Unbridled and Curlin come to mind. Two names like Seattle Slew and Deputy Minister work as well. Cat seems to be a popular name. There are Storm Cat, Tabasco Cat and Tale of the Cat.
Some horses have run together names like Shouldabeenaclown, Redhotfillypepper, and Maythehorsebewithyou.
Descriptive names like Big Brown, Red, and Silver are also popular.
Some of my favorite names came from show horses. Hard to be Humble and Touch of Class come to mind. Being an English major, my all-time favorite was a horse named Great Expectations who had the nickname Pip.
Some names have to be read out loud to reveal fully their meanings. My friend's favorite is (you must say it fast a few times) Hoof Hearted. My favorite was an open jumper named Damuraz.
I nicknamed my Thoroughbred Baby Huey as a joke because he was skin and bones when I got him. In his younger days, he was sometimes referred to as 'Headedforthealpocan.'
I always thought it would be cool to name a horse I foaled Paddy's Pride. But then I would have to call myself Fool's Gold. As fate would have it, a weanling filly chose me for her owner and I named her Kismet.
Someday I just have to name a horse Flannigan. The show jumper Pat Smythe (In 1956 Smythe was the first woman to ride in the Olympics' show-jumping event and the first to win any medal -- a bronze) had a horse by that name and I always said I would name my next gelding Flannigan.
Let's hope my husband doesn't read this column or I'll be 'Lookingforanewhome.'
Equestrian correspondent Patricia Smith can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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