Many horses have two names in their lives — their professional or pedigreed name and then their barn name or nickname. Horse breeders often choose the names of their foals or yearlings for the breed registration but they do not get to choose the barn name. This is something strictly between the horse and the human.
Barn names need to be short since horses have poor attention spans. Since registered names can be lengthy, such as the Morgan show mare Winter Moon Light Kiss, a horse will not pay attention if called by such a long name. A nickname is needed in order to make life easier for both horse and human.
Female Horse Names of Native Origin
Many pedigreed horse owners like to name their steeds using words or phrases from the native language of the country that breed originated from. The female horse names used are popular names for girls in that country or names of flowers, feminine animals, the mare’s color or gentle weather conditions.
For example, a popular Arabian name for a mare or filly is Ameera which means princess or prosperous one. Since Arabians are one of the most popular horse breeds in the world, there are many Arabic name generators online to help horse owners not only pick a nice-sounding Arab word, but also make sure it is in the feminine gender. Many words in Arab have the same meaning but altering one or two letters changes it from a boy to a girl. Beloved, for example is Mahbouba — but only when referring to females. Without that final ‘a’, the beloved is a male.
If you have a horse from a little-used language or a language going extinct, then things get complicated. Breeds like Nakota Horses and Appaloosas are more often getting Native American names. However, many tribal languages are going extinct. Those that aren’t include the Nez Perce which has female horse names like:
- ‘Ayat: Simply means woman.
- Hisemtuks: means the moon or the sun.
- Payo-Payo: means songbird.
Female Horse Names from Competitions
Racing, show jumping and other horse sports give a long list of today’s female horse names. Giving a mare or filly such a name is a form of flattery but remember not to expect a horse to live up to its name. Some popular names include:
- Halla: name of German showjumping mare who won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1956 and 1960 and inspired a Breyer model.
- Lena: given in honor of the American Quarter Horse mare Poco Lena who was one of the best cutting horses who ever lived.
- Regret: name of the first filly to win the Kentucky Derby back in 1915.
- Lady: is the name in many racehorses such as the Horse of the Year Lady’s Secret but also a common word in many multiple-named horse breed winners, such as the champion American Quarter Horse and Breyer model Lady Phase and champion harness racing mare Lady Suffolk
- Princess: is yet another word in long registered mare and filly names such as racing champions Princess Rooney and Princess of Sylmar.
Keep in mind that although barn names can use the same name as a legendary champion, most horse breed registries will not accept a name identical to that of a past champion. This is to help keep future horse breeders from mistaking one low-ability mare with the champion that she was named for.
Female Horse Names from Pop Culture, History and Legend
Mares and fillies that have appeared in popular books, movies or television shows arguably provide the most popular and often used female horse names. They include:
- Misty: named after the star of a trilogy of books about the Chincoteague pony by Marguerite Henry and mother of another famous pony Stormy.
- Ginger: named for the ill-fated lady love of Black Beauty in the popular novel of the same name by Anna Sewell.
- Dutchess: name of Black Beauty’s wise mother.
- Flicka: star of a trilogy of books by Mary O’Hara and two popular film adaptations.
- Black Bess: legendary mare of notorious highwayman (robber) Dick Turpin who lived in England in the early 1700s.
- Buttermilk: name of the mare of the “Queen of the Cowgirls” Dale Evans.
- Sophie: name of Colonel Potter’s horse in the popular long-running comedy M*A*S*H.
Summing Everything Up
It does not always take a lot of thought to choose just the right barn name for a filly or mare. Names can pop up in the owner’s head in unexpected times or places. Name the horse for the filly’s color, behavior or as a derivative of the sire and dam’s name. One of the most popular horse names is Star for either sex and in just about any country.
Find more about female horse names from joining a horse owner’s online chat group or forum and ask for suggestions. Take a photo or short video of the unnamed mare or filly and post it online and ask for suggestions. When all else fails, just call your horse “Horse.” The horse will not care what you call her — as long as you do not call her late for dinner.
Images taken from depositphotos.com.