What's In A Horse's Name?
What can be gleaned in thought and meaning from the names horses are given?
Racehorses, such as flat track Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, harness racing Standardbreds, and Steeplechasers, may get their names more or less handed down to them: that is Lavec Dream, a bay Standardbred mare who (then aged eight) ran in a trot event during the 2009 Little Brown Jug week in Delaware, Ohio, was sired by Enjoy Lavec.
Another entry that week, Annieswesterncard, a three-year-old bay gelding, had a name directly connected to both parents, his sire, Western Hanover, and his dam, Annie Your A Card, which spoke possessively. Grammatically speaking, perhaps his mama should have been Annie You're A Card, but that's another article entirely!
Racehorse names generally don't include correct punctuation, or Annieswesterncard would be Annie'swesterncard, and so on. They also are generally limited to 18 (Thoroughbreds) or 20 (Quarter Horses and Standardbreds) letters, with spaces and punctuation each counting as one letter used. Annieswesterncard employs a technique of pushing words together to meet the Standardbred 20-letters rule while also advertising part of the horse's pedigree.
What Is True?
The Thoroughbred racer "Yes Its True", with the correct possessive spelling, it's, without the apostrophe (even though space-saving wasn't necessary in this case), was a clever moniker that teasingly stirred the imagination. What was true? Yes Its True died in 2007, so the truth of his name may never be revealed.
He also has a relative named "Is It True"? The intrigue goes on!
Some tongue-in-cheek cleverness is used in racehorse names because they are limited in scope and numbers by the long list of rules governing the naming procedure. Preachinatthebar (Thoroughbred), Imawildandcrazyguy, also a Thoroughbred, Somebeachsomewhere (Standardbred), and Deweycheatumnhowe, another Standardbred, are thought-provoking examples.
Horses of the Dance
Many categories, topics, and subjects pertaining to human existence are intermingled into the names chosen for horses. In "Horse-Report" Internet pages the names of horses-of-the-dance appear. Gene Kelly (check out the link in which the real Gene Kelly is seen tap-dancing spectacularly in roller skates) was picked in honorary fashion.
Other great names for horses chosen from the art of dance include Foxtrot, Follow My Lead, Flashdance, Disco, Cocktail Samba, Cakewalk, Bunny Hop, Belly Dancer, Begin The Beguine, All That Jazz, and Barishnikov.
Remember Those Hollywood Names?
Television shows in the 1950s were replete with Westerns and the occasional comedy creation like "Mr. Ed" that involved horses that were named in accompaniment to the owner's situation.
The Western adventure horses, those of the cowboy heroes, had great names. Roy Rogers had Trigger, (supposedly named because he responded that fast); Gene Autry had Champion...enough said.
The Cisco Kid had...? Who did Tonto ride?
In Real Life...
Robert E. Lee, generous general of the South, rode a gray horse appropriately named Traveler.
Swooping speed comes to mind with the name Whirlaway. Mr. Long Tail, as he was nicknamed, was America's popular first Triple Crown winner of the 1940s (1941) and the fifth in the short line of 11 triplers in the history of Thoroughbred racing.
Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew of 1977 was doubled-named by his two pairs of owners. Their places of residence, Seattle, Washington, and the Florida Everglades (swamps), also called slews, gave the champion his well thought out name.
Strong warrior is the meaning of the name given to the horse loved and ridden by Alexander the Great. According to legend, Bucephalus, a mighty black steed of seemingly untameable nature, was calmed by the 12-year-old Alexander and became his loyal warring partner.
Here's a tongue-twister choice: "No Pan Intended" hailed from the Peter Pan Stables in Pepper Pike, Ohio. He is a Standardbred currently at stud who is the only harness racer in history to win the Pacing Triple Crown and the Breeders Crown in the same year, 2003.
The consistently winning Standardbred horses bred by Hanover Shoe Farms repeatedly have "Hanover" tagged into their names: Ralph Hanover, Bret Hanover, Rocknroll Hanover, Western Hanover.
Horses of Fiction
Two of the most famous horses of fiction are Walter Farley's The Black Stallion (1941) and Anna Sewell's Black Beauty (1946).
Farley didn't have a series in mind when he created "The Black", victim of a ship wreck with young Alec Ramsey, who came to own the wild Arabian stallion. Farley's love of horses and his reading fans grew The Black Stallion into a twenty-plus book effort still popular today.
Sewell's Black Beauty (The Autobiography of a Horse) is as renowned for its story of an equine suvivor as it is for the telling of the story in first person by the horse himself.
In 1941, Mary O'Hara joined the ranks of writers publishing horsey tales that proved to stand the test of time. She authored My Friend Flicka, the story of a boy growing up on a ranch in the American West who dreams of racing his horse.
National Velvet, starring Elizabeth Taylor, may be the most popular girl and horse fictional tale of all-time. Taylor plays the young girl who wants to ride in the Grand National, England's most famous steeplechase race, when females are banned from such activity.
Most people who loved horses as youngsters know these fictional equine names that even may have shaped their interests and pursuits in their own lives.
So what is in a horse's name? Apparently, it is everything imaginable in life!
- Great Horse Names
These great horse names relate to dance.
More by this Author
The Triple Crown of horse racing most often refers to the American running of a series of three races for three-year-olds that determine champions. However, many countries hold a Triple Crown and have internatioal...
Ruffian, ranked number thirty-five, is the highest rated female racehorse of the 20th Century in "Blood-Horse Publications'" "Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century", published in 1999. Only four...
What are pacing and trotting and what necessary equipment is needed for a Standardbred harness racer to perform his appropriate gait?