4 Tips for Naming Your New Horse

Here are some things to consider when naming or renaming your horse.

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Horse NamesThe purchase, birth, or adoption of a new horse is always an exciting time in the life of a horse enthusiast. If your horse isn’t already named, choosing the perfect moniker is one of your first decisions and one of the most important, too!

Need inspiration? See our list of 124 best horse names >>

Many of today’s horse owners wish to find a name that truly fits their horse’s individual personality or appearance. Yet with literally thousands of possibilities, it isn’t always easy to decide on the best name for your equine companion.
Consider the following points:

    • Heritage: Choosing a name that reflects your horse’s heritage often provides interesting options. For instance, selecting a name with Swedish roots—like “Freya” or “Nils”—for your Swedish Warmblood is a great way to honor the origin of your horse’s breed. Or go the Frozen route and name your Norwegian Fjord “Olaf.”

      Your horse’s pedigree can also provide suggestions and ideas. Honor one of your horse’s ancestors by using a related version of the name or a name with a similar theme. When I needed a barn name for my Welsh filly six years ago, I considered dozens of possibilities before settling on “Cadi”, inspired by the name of my filly’s great-great-great-great-grand-dam.
    • Multiple horse situations: Ideally, your horse should have a name that is distinctive from the other horses that reside at your barn. On the other hand—it can be fun if the names complement each other or involve a specific theme. For example, “Maggie” and “Murphy” are similar without sounding too much alike, whereas “Bess” and “Beth” are practically identical and might cause confusion. While it will probably be quite easy for you and your family to tell the names (and horses) apart, stable managers and others around the barn may get confused by a pair of horses with names like “Charm” and “Champ.”
    • Breed registry restrictions: Many breed registries have rules and regulations regarding the names of horses. For example, the Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America limits registered names to 30 characters, and The Jockey Club has a lengthy list of criteria for names (see this link). The American Trakehner Association requires that a purebred horse’s name must begin with the same letter as its dam. Always consider registry regulations when naming your horse so you don’t get your heart set on a name that you can’t use.
  • Registered names vs. barn names: Should they be connected in some way? Or can the barn name be completely separate and unrelated to the registered name? In all practicality, you can go either way. Sometimes a registered name automatically lends itself to a barn name, such as a horse named “Yellow Jacket” but called “Jack”—and sometimes it doesn’t, such as a horse named “Miracle Maker” but called “Willie.”


These tips should get you started on a long, happy journey with your newly named horse. A beautiful, well-suited name is the perfect gift for your beloved equine companion.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Sometimes a name will just “pop” into my head, but usually it comes with something I see or say to my new horse. Like Kisses, one day she was just laying in the sunlight sleeping, and I told her, I see you are being kissed by the sun, which then became her registered name…Kissed by the Sun. Kisses is a Palomino.

  2. Or you can really confuse people and go literature-major on them 🙂 Thorin Indra is my quarter horse. “Thorin” derivative of Thor, king god in Norse culture, meaning thunder. Scandinavian. “Indra” king god in Hindu culture, translation ‘possessing small drops of water.’ Sanskrit. Poetic translation as decided upon by me: “Thunder that rains, thunder that posseses.” Voila. A highly intellectual, multi-cultural, mind-boggling horse name. Bonus, I’ve never yet come across another Thorin. Although my time might be limited since The Hobbit movies … and my horse’s naming predated the movies, fyi, although I had read the book. No connection.

  3. While my mustang’s barn name and registered name are completely unrelated, they are both based on his characteristics. His barn name, Caspian, was based on his regal movement–his trot looks more like a prance. His registered name, One Who Gallops Without Limits, on the other hand, is based on the fact that he’s a mustang, and that he was rounded up on an airforce base.

  4. Nice article. Good attention to detail. I, too, seem to agree that a horse’s barn name may be slightly different from his registered name, or lack there of. Joyce

  5. When I got my mare, she was just referred to as the China King filly. So I just stuck with China as the barn name. When I got her papers I was pleasantly surprised to find out her papered name is China Doll Whiz.

  6. My horse was named Ozzy when we bought him and my trainer told me the wizard in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is Professor Marvel and thus Marvelozz was born!

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