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    Selecting a Horse's Name: It's Not as Simple as it Seems
Selecting a Horse's Name: It's Not as Simple as it Seems
Horses at sunset. Source: https://www.w-dog.ru/

Selecting a Horse's Name: It's Not as Simple as it Seems

In general, the owner can call his horse anything, absolutely any name he likes. But if the horse is a breeding horse and it is planned to participate in official races (or point-to-point races), then the horse must not only be given a name but also registered. As it turns out, this is a troublesome and difficult task.

The registration of breeding horse names in the United Kingdom is handled by the Weatherbys group of companies. But before that, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) must approve the owner's choice of name.

In 1971, Jockey Club Secretary James Weatherby published Volume 1 of the General Stud Book, from which time an official register of thoroughbred horses began to be maintained. This work of registering breeding horses has been carried out to this day by six generations of the Wetherby family. Registration of names of horses in Great Britain and Ireland is also part of the functions of this company. The registration process itself is fast: most applications are processed by Weatherby within 1-2 days. The selection of a name itself can be long and labour-intensive; there are many conditions and restrictions.

Horse and reading child. Source: https://parenting.firstcry.com/
Horse and reading child. Source: https://parenting.firstcry.com/

Preconditions Before Application Submission

The BHA will consider an application to register a horse name if the following prerequisites are fulfilled:

1.       The horse is implanted with an identification chip, and its identity is verified.

2.       The horse has gained approval for entry into the studbook.

3.       The proposed horse name complies with the Horse Naming Rules.

4.       The horse was naturally conceived and carried by one mare throughout the entire gestation period, excluding artificial insemination.

5.       If the horse was not born in the UK or Ireland, submission of an animal passport, and confirmation from an independent veterinarian regarding microchipping, along with a certificate of age and markings, is mandatory.

Furthermore, the BHA reserves the right to reject an application if discrepancies arise between the horse's stud book and its certificate of age and markings. Additionally, confirmation of the horse's identity through blood and DNA testing is imperative; failure to provide such confirmation will result in the non-registration of the name.

The horse hid. Source: https://funik.ru/
The horse hid. Source: https://funik.ru/

Prohibited Names

Before proposing a name for registration, it's crucial to ensure its uniqueness as duplication is not allowed among the approximately 250 thousand names in the current registry.

·       Approximately 3,000 names are listed on the international register, including iconic names like Frankel or Secretariat, which are permanently retired.

·       Names concluding with a numeral are forbidden. For instance, attempting to name a horse "Northern Dancer1" will be unsuccessful.

·       Names must not exceed 18 characters, including spaces and punctuation.

·       Names must not solely comprise abbreviations, numerals, or symbols such as periods, hyphens, commas, exclamation marks, slashes, or quotation marks.

·       All names must commence with a letter and contain no more than seven syllables.

·       Offensive or inappropriate names, as determined by the BHA, will be rejected.

·       Terminating names with terms like "horse," "mare," or "foal" is prohibited.

·       Numeric names up to 30 are unacceptable, while capitalised numbers exceeding 30 are permissible, as exemplified by "Forty Forty."

·       Names referencing racetracks or renowned races cannot be assigned to horses.

·       Brand or trademark names, such as "Pepsi Cola," are ineligible for registration.

·       Naming horses after famous individuals, like "Beckham," is also disallowed.

A horse and its man. Source: https://funik.ru/
A horse and its man. Source: https://funik.ru/

Exceptions to the Regulations

Despite the stringent naming guidelines, certain exceptions exist under specific circumstances:

·       Permission from Public Figures: If a public figure grants consent for a horse to bear their name, it can be accepted. For instance, a horse named "Trump" could partake in races with the individual's authorisation.

·       Commercial Considerations: With special approval from the BHA, a horse may adopt a commercially influenced name.

·       Company, Product, or Profession Names: Names associated with companies, products, or professions may be permitted if the relevant parties do not raise objections, and the name holds an alternative common meaning. For example, if a company named "Soglasie" exists, a horse might also be named as such, provided there are no objections from concerned parties and the name holds another general significance. 

Horse on a walk. Source: https://top10a.ru/ 
Horse on a walk. Source: https://top10a.ru/

Names from the Existing Registry

Under specific circumstances, names from the current registry become available for use by young horses:

For Mares: The rule dictates that a mare's name from the registry can be reused if at least 10 years have elapsed since her demise or since her last breeding activity. If the mare reaches the age of 30, her name is also eligible for reuse.

For Stallions: A minimum of 15 years must pass from the date of a stallion's death or the date of his last breeding encounter. Additionally, if a stallion reaches the age of 35, his name can also be assigned to a young horse.

For Non-Breeding Horses: The timeframe differs for non-breeding horses. Their names can be reassigned either 5 years after the horse's demise or when the horse reaches the age of 15.

For more detailed information, refer to the regulations on the British Horseracing Authority's website

Horses are playing. Source: https://funik.ru/
Horses are playing. Source: https://funik.ru/

Additional Information for Owners

It's worth noting that if multiple identical names are submitted simultaneously, the BHA determines priority through a simple lottery system.

Owners have the option to reserve a preferred name by contacting Weatherbys well in advance of the foal's birth.

Should an owner decide to change a horse's name, they may do so under the following conditions:

The registering company raises no objections.

The horse has not yet competed under the original name, or if it has, it has not secured any victories.

The horse is not registered as a breeding mare or stallion.

Approximately 30% of name submissions are rejected due to non-compliance with requirements. Hence, it's advisable to submit a list of several preferred names, typically six, in descending order, to streamline the process.

Names often reflect the horse's lineage; elements from the names of the sire and dam are commonly used. However, owners can draw inspiration from favourite places, hobbies, or any word or phrase that embodies the horse's character. Popular sources of inspiration include movie characters and literary heroes. Lists offering suggestions for mare and stallion names are available to assist owners in their selection process.

Occasionally, committees may overlook ambiguous names bestowed upon horses by mischievous individuals seeking to inject humour. While some owners may find such names amusing, this practice is not condoned and is swiftly addressed by regulatory bodies.



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