Horse names are often difficult to choose. Some older horses come with names that you may not like, or a new foal or a horse with an unknown name may come into your barn, and these all need new names.
Quite likely, you’ll need both a registered name and a stable name for your horse so you may need some additional help coming up with just the right options to choose from. Most registries don’t allow duplicate names, so you’ll want to do some research before you begin, as well as keeping that link to the registry open while you choose.
To help in the process, we’ve compiled a list of ideas and resources that may help you choose horse names, as well as a collection of names and their meanings that may be beneficial to your decision-making process.
How to Choose the Right Horse Names
There’s this great scene in the independent film, The Legend of 1900 during which a young boy reads the names of racehorses to his adoptive father. The names are mostly silly, often using the word “mama” in them, and make the pair laugh quite a lot.
If you don’t want your horse to have a laughable name like the ridiculous “Yo Mama” type names used in The Legend of 1900, you can think through a few things and come up with a fun, charming, whimsical, or elegant name that will catch the right kind of attention for your beautiful steed.
Before you start naming, remember that your horse’s official registered name is rarely what you’ll call your four-legged partner in the barn. Elegant, multi-syllabled or intriguing names are fine to use for registered names, while you’ll want easier-to-say names for home life. And these barn names may have nothing to do with the registered name of your horse.
1. Consider the Horse’s Pedigree or Breeding
Foals should be registered, and that means a registered name is required. You’ll need to consider the rules that govern the naming of the type of foal you have, as many registries have rules and guidelines that must be followed on horse names.
That being said, you can look through lists of other horses from your horse’s breed to find names you like. Once you find some, you can think of similar names, different ways to make a play on the names you like, or otherwise, find inspiration through this list of registered horses.
You may also find inspiration through the name of your horse’s breed as well, such as Appaloosa Mae, Brumby Baby, or Shetland Bub.
2. Beware of Prefixes from Breeders and Barns
Many barns and breeders use prefixes for the horses they breed and own. You may find some of these prefixes attractive and interesting, but you will need to seek permission before officially using these.
Often these prefixes and names are derived from the sires and dams of the horses used to breed. One famous example of this type of name transfer from one generation to the next is Man O’ War’s offspring, War Admiral.
3. Know the Traditions of Horse Naming
You may want to consider creating your own name for your horse from your horse’s parents’ names. Lineage for horses means a lot, so naming your horse after her parents may be an excellent, and sentimental way to honor her parents.
For example, if a horse’s parents are Mirage Wind and Funny Little Darling, you might name your foal Darling Wind, Funny Mirage, or Little Mirage to capture that heritage.
4. Create an Original Name
If nothing in your colt’s lineage draws you, creating the name for him on your own might be the best choice. Consider different aspects of your horse to do this well.
What kind of personality does your horse have? Is he laid back and friendly? Does he have some fire in him and wild spirit? Is he affectionate, spunky, or kind of goofy?
For sweet, gentle personalities, consider gentle names that include words like Flower, Daisy, Honey, Rosebud, Cuddle, Fairy, Sweetness, Darling, or Dear.
For horses with feisty personalities, you may want to consider names that include words like Fire, Spitfire, Daring, Spunk, Sassy, Madness, Sparks, or Moxie.
Horses who are a bit out of the ordinary may be well suited to names that contain words like Goofy, Silly, Cute, Bundles, Crazy, Kooky, Daffy, or Dotty.
Another good potential source for name ideas comes from your horse’s appearance. If she has a unique marking, unusual or distinct coloring, or any other specific physical characteristic that sets her apart from other horses, you may wish to name her for this distinction.
For example, a horse with a blaze may be named something with the word Blaze in it, like Blaze of Fire. A horse with a spot in the center of her forehead may be named using the words that imply things like a third eye or something from the belief system from which that concept comes.
Your horse’s occupation may also provide a possible name source. Will your horse be a show jumper, parade horse, pony ride horse, trail horse, workhorse, racehorse, or have some other occupation? Giving your horse a name appropriate for his profession is a great way to find the right choice.
If your horse is a racehorse, for example, you want something attention-grabbing and memorable, such as Stormy Night or Dust Devil. A horse being employed as a pony ride horse should have an easy to pronounce, simple name that kids can latch onto, like Gummy Bear, Pixie, or Feathers.
5. Find Inspiration in Books, Television, or Films
For a truly wonderful horse name, go digging into your past and pull out those favorite childhood books, movies, and television shows. You may find a vast well of ideas in these delightful places.
For example, you could choose the name of your favorite character in the book Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, and combine her name with a word from the title to create Diana of the Gables.
Or, if you love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and you’ve got a big, fiery horse, you may want to give him the lordly name of Thanos of [your hometown].
There’s a wealth of ideas in your favorite television shows, as well, like the long-running Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are tons of interesting names for these characters that may easily translate to your four-legged companion, like Buffy, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Oz, Spike, Rupert, or Angel.
Combining any of these names with those from other favorite shows could give a sort of homage to your two or three favorite characters of all time.
6. Take a Cue from Your Horse’s Breed’s Country of Origin
Finally, another excellent source for horse names is considering the origin of your horse’s breed. You can easily research your horse’s breed online to find out the history, and therefore the origin, and then choose a name based on that.
If, for example, you have a Brumby, you can look up where these horses come from. You’ll find that Brumbies are “free-ranging, feral” horses of Australia. These horses still roam free there in the Northern Territory and Queensland.
An ideal name for your imported Brumby may be found in a list of Australian names. Brumbies are not indigenous to Australia, but an indigenous name may be ideal, as it will be unique, authentic to your horse’s origins, and interesting to say and hear.
Some names that come from indigenous Australian people include Adina, Alinta, Daku, Jannali, Jedda, Killara, MInygulu, and Waratah. There are many others, as well, that may better suit your Brumby.
Naming a Thoroughbred Horse
There are specific regulations for Thoroughbred horse names. These basic tips will help if you have either a Thoroughbred or other horse whose name is regulated. Just be sure to check the proper rules and regulations for the breed you do have.
1. Names Cannot Be Longer than Eighteen Characters
In the case of Thoroughbred horse names, letters, spaces, and punctuation count as characters. You cannot name a horse Come Thither My Darling, but you could technically skip the spaces and have Come Thither Dear instead.
2. Avoid Vulgar or Offensive Names
With swear words as commonplace in media today as proper names, it’s important to remember that vulgar, offensive, or off-color names are not welcomed in the Thoroughbred registry.
Names that are offensive to any religion, political viewpoint, ethnic group, or that have bad connotations will not be acceptable. Even if your horse is The King of Wind in your heart, referring to his G.I. issues in his official name will be frowned upon in the registry.
3. Avoid Certain Issues that Won’t Be Permitted
Thoroughbred racehorses cannot have names that are all initials, nor can they be named to promote a commercial or artistic cause. Thoroughbreds cannot be named after a living person, either, unless written permission has been granted in writing.
4. Don’t Name Your Horse After Previous Winners
Racehorses from the past can be a great inspiration for your horse, but the name of a racehorse who’s won a victory of any significance cannot be used for another horse. That name has been retired and may not be recycled. That’s why we don’t see multiple Seabiscuits and Secretariats running on tracks today.
You may, however, may a play off of the name of your favorite racehorse. Do so carefully, though, checking the registry and confirming that there are no prefixes or such that belong to a family line.
5. Have an Explanation for Your Horse’s Name
If your horse’s name source isn’t fairly apparent, you may need to be able to offer up the reasoning and source of the name you’ve selected for the registry. The Jockey Club could very well ask you for the reasoning, as they are the organization tasked with name approvals for racehorses.
An example of the explanation of a horse’s name can be found with the 1977 Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew. This horse was named for the owners’ hometown, Seattle, and for the word for swampland in Florida, a “slew.”
Horse Naming Resources You May Want to Consult
Before we get into the list of names we’ve fallen in love with, these horse naming resources should be brought forward for your further investigation and choosing process.
Historical Horse Names that May Help
While you probably can’t name your horse directly after a famous horse like American Pharoah, you can be inspired the names of many famous historical horses that have run races, won great victories, survived wars, and met other great achievements throughout history.
Be sure to read up on the history of these famous horses, and let their stories inspire your horse name ideas.
Exotic Pet Names that Could Inspire
While horses aren’t pets in the sense of a dog or cat, they are considered a pet in some cases. This list of exotic pet names may have just the right idea to spark for your exotic, unique, or unusual horse who’s walking around without a name right now. Below this article, which only features “A” names, you’ll find additional lists by letter.
Names for Pairs of Horses
Sometimes we inherit or purchase two horses together for the work power or companionship for each other. When this happens, you may want to consider naming your horses as a pair, rather than individually.
This list of paired pet names from The Spruce Pets could very well offer the best options for your horse names.
Using Fictional Horses as Inspiration
We spoke of using our favorite television characters, fictional horses, and even book titles as inspiration for our horse names. But trying to remember all the famous fictional horses we’ve read about can be challenging. To help with that, we found this great list of fictional horses found in film, television, books, and more.
Using the Meaning of Names to Choose
The personality of your horse or his lineage may be huge factors in determining your horse’s name. So, using a baby naming website where you can search for names that give the meaning you’re looking for can come in handy.
One of those sites is Babynames.com where you can search by name, meaning, beginning letter, the number of syllables, or even origin.
Using Horse Names from Mythology and Legend
If you have a penchant for deities and mythology, you’ll want to check out websites that help you search for names of deities from various cultures, folklore names, legendary names, and other mythical sources. Some of the best sites we found that do this include:
Finding Horse Names in Other Languages
If you’re going the route of naming your horse from his country of origin, but you don’t speak the language, you can find translations of words that describe your horse’s personality, looks, occupation, sense of humor, or other traits on a number of sites. One such site is Google Translate, and another is Linguee.
Cultural and Ethnic Names for Horses
Finally, you can choose from names out of cultures that either reflect your own, your horse’s, or others that you respect and honor. Your interest in these cultures may come out of a fondness for a people group, storytelling structures, famous stories you’ve loved, like Arabian Nights, or generations back in your own family.
Some sites where you can find these names include:
Some of the Best Horse Names for Any Breed
As we’ve done the research, our favorite horse names include the following list of twenty-five choices, which could be appropriate for any breed, depending on your needs and the horse’s personality, looks, and temperament.
1. Esperanza – A Spanish name meaning “hope”
2. Aifric – a Scottish name meaning “pleasant”
3. Merle – a French name meaning “blackbird”
4. Evaine – an Athurian legend name derived from the name Eve, which means “life”
5. Alasdair – a Scottish form of the name Alexander, which means “to defend, to help”
6. Arran – for a Scottish island in the Firth of Clyde
7. Aztec Gold – a great show name for a horse with heritage in the South Americas
8. Byline Brumby – for the writer with a wild Aussie horse
9. Chaos – a great name to use in conjunction with another word as a name for a wild-spirited horse
10. Pixie Dust – perfect for a pony ride horse with some sparkle in her eyes
11. Merry Legs – for that horse who dances more than she runs
12. Allambee – an Australian name meaning “quiet place”
13. Elanora – an Australian name meaning “from the shore”
14. Illusion Master – a fantastic name for a racehorse
15. Harlequin Dancer – for the romance novel lovers
16. Fire Bird – for the horse lover who wants her horse to have a theme song
17. Oracle Queen – for the wise horse
18. Maja – Swedish name meaning “pearl”
19. Tianna – Swedish name meaning “victor”
20. Carmelo – a Spanish name meaning “vineyard or garden”
21. Brisa – a Spanish name meaning “beloved,” from Greek mythology
22. Bard – an interesting, archaic feeling word that can be paired with other words to create a great show name for a dramatic horse
23. High Flyer – for a whimsical or fast horse
24. Storm Trooper – for a spirited horse who belongs with a Star Wars enthusiast
25. On Golden Wing – a potential show name for an exceptionally graceful and beautiful horse
The Perfect Name is Out There
Finding the best horse names to consider for your new horse, whether a colt or an older horse bought at auction, can be difficult. The personality, breed, background, heritage, or markings may all give clues for your horse’s name. Of course, that doesn’t consider finding the right words to piece together for that name.
Check out the resources we offered, with lists of names from a number of backgrounds and cultures, and see if any spark thoughts that can help you along. If those don’t work, look through lists of fictional horses, historical horses, or names for other animals or people, and maybe you’ll find just the perfect name there.
Featured Image via Pixabay