What's In A Name?
Selecting Authentic Names for Your Models
Originally written by Leslie Kathman and published in The Hobby Horse News, reprinted here with additional information provided by Kim Bjorgo.
Bold caps have been added by Chris Semon for easy access for readers.

When collectors first become involved in the hobby, one of the things they most enjoy is naming their models. Some newcomers are surprised to find out that they do not have to use the "names" that their models came with. Novice and Junior classes are sometimes filled with Misties, Gem Twists, and Secretariats. Most hobbyists begin by giving show names to their entire collection. However, one you have named several hundred models, it's easy to run out of ideas! Over time, names can become an afterthought; something you try to think up as you fill out tags or backs of photos in time for a show! That's when being aware of the naming customs common in the various breeds can make naming easier.

One familiar naming custom is the use of prefixes. Prefixes are words that precede the horse's actual name and identify the farm where the horse was bred. Prefixes are often taken from actual place names from the breed's country of origin (Firth, Gwynedd, Penrhyn), from the breeder's name (Brantley, Lippitt), or from descriptive geographical names (Marshwood, Gayfields, Heatherstone). When a prefix is used in a name, the word "stable" or "farm" is dropped. So for example, ponies from my own Glenmerle Stud Farm are named "Glenmerle So-and-So" and not "Glenmerle Farm So-and-So." Occasionally, prefixes will actually appear at the end of a name, so that it becomes "So-and-So of Glenmerle." Along the same lines, some breeds utilize farm initials in a horse's name; this is very common in mules and donkeys, for example. The name would perhaps be C.F. Cudjoe, where C.F. stands for the farm name.

In the real horse world, prefixes are registered with the breed organization and may only be used by the owner. In models, there is no way to register and protect a prefix, although most showers will not duplicate your prefix out of courtesy. Since real horse prefixes cannot be said to belong to any particular model shower, popular ones such as Lippitt (Morgans) and Liseter (Welshes) might be used by many different people.

Problems arise when prefixes are added to names in breeds where they are not used. While "Shining Unicorn Farms Black Knight of Magic" may sound like a wonderful name for your new Friesian stallion, it will sound unrealistic to those familiar with that breed. Friesians normally have a short, one word name. Prefixes are most common in British breeds, particularly British Native Ponies. In this country, they are most often seen in Welsh Ponies, Morgans, Miniature Horses, and some British Drafters.

Another custom, or tradition, is the use of 'family' names. These are not as formal as prefixes, but rather just words (or variations of those words) that commonly appear in names that identify the horse as coming from a particular breeder family. Appaloosas with the word "Bright" somewhere in their name usually come from the breeding family founded by the stallion "Mighty Bright." This practice is traditional with most American breeds.

Things like prefixes and family names are all part of tradition. They are not hard and fast rules, and as in all things, not everyone follows tradition! There are things that are true rules regarding names, however, and these vary with each breed. Most breed registries have a limit to the number of characters (letters and spaces) in a name, usually somewhere between 16 and 21. In breeds where the prefixes are common, the registry often allows more letters. Welsh Ponies, for example, allow 30 letters and spaces. Other registries limit the number of separate words, such as Arabians, which allow no more than three words in a name. The use of numbers in a name is often restricted. Arabians are restricted from adding numbers (Roman or Arabic), or even "Sr." or &qupt;Jr." to the name. Quarter Horses, on the other hand, are not allowed to have any Roman numerals, but may have Arabic numerals as long as they only appear at the end of the name and take up three to five spaces. Still other breeds, such as Lippizans and Shagya Arabians, make extensive use of Roman numerals.

Punctuation is another area where restrictions are common. Quarter Horses forbid the use of any punctuation, including apostrophes and hyphens. Arabians only allow the use of hyphens. One common punctuation mark is the asterisk (*), which normally indicates that a horse has been imported. In some breeds, such as Shires, the notation "Imp." is used instead of the asterisk. Some years ago, debate raged in the hobby as to whether this symbol belonged on models of breeds or bloodlines that would have had to have been imported, or if it should only be used on models that had been physically imported, such as Beswicks and North Lights. I have seen it used in both cases. Another commonly seen notation (particularly in Arabians) is the plus sign (+) after a horse's name, such as Khemosabi+++. Each plus indicates that a cumulative award, such as a Register Of Merit, has been reached. Many model horse registries in the 1970s offered such awards, so these are sometimes seen in model-bred registries as well. (Note: IPABRA has reinstated this popular tradition and awards +s to those horses that have received at least five championships under five different judges. The 1996 Top Ten Awards awarded our first horse the Supreme Champion awards- the great Clydesdale stallion Doura Gael Force!) Another notation seen in model pedigrees is [r]. This indicates that the horse appearing in the pedigree is a real horse, rather than a model. If you see this after a horse's name, you can assume that the parents given for that horse are real horses as well.

Many registries also restrict the use of vulgar or derogatory words in names. This is often done at the discretion of the registry, with no official list of "banned" words or phrases. This means that it is possible that unflattering names in foreign languages will be overlooked. I discovered this recently while discussing the famous "white" Morgan Chingadero in a group that included someone that spoke Spanish. Apparently the Morgan registry was as unaware of the true meaning of that word as I was! Risqué double entendres and suggestive phrases are often overlooked as well.

Some registries require foals to be named in language native to the breed. Still others require the foals to be named starting with a certain letter, sometimes according to the year (all foals of a given year have the same first letter in the name), or according to breeding (all foals of a certain bloodline have the same first letter in the name). But these sorts of things are more commonly a matter of custom and not actual rules. Some of the customs and rules for the different breeds are presented below.

Arabian naming styles vary according to the country of origin. In England, they are often given two word names consisting of a descriptive adjective and a noun. Examples of this style of naming are Bright Shadow, Blue Domino, and Indian Silver ("Indian" in British Arabians refers to India and not to Native Americans, by the way!) Arabians from Poland, Russia, and Spain are often given one word names in their country's native language. Egyptian-bred Arabians usually have Arabic (or Arabic sounding) names, are often these are longer and have two to three words. Sometimes the terms "ibn" (son of), "bint" (daughter of) and "bint bint" (granddaughter of) are used; Bint Weddad would be 'daughter of the mare Weddad' and Ibn Morafic would be 'son of the stallion Morafic.'

Family names are occasionally seen in Arabians, with the word "Bey" showing up frequently in horses descending from Bey-El-Bey and "Bask" common in horses descending from the stallion *Bask. Using the first letters of the stallion's name is sometimes done, especially with the "Kh" of Khemosabi and the "Ts" of Ivanhoe Tsultan. Farm prefixes are almost unheard of in Arabians, with perhaps the one notable exception being Gainey Arabians, which uses "Gai" when naming its horses.

While prefixes are not common in Arabians, the use of them in Thoroughbreds is actually prohibited. Nothing that identifies a commercial breeding establishment may be added to a Thoroughbred's name, although the sire or dam's name may be (and often is) incorporated into the name of the foal. Sometimes the name is not used, but the idea for the name is definitely suggested by the name of the sire, such as the colt named Strike Gold sired by the stallion Mr. Prospector.

The southern gaited breeds usually credit the sire somewhere in the name. Because of popular sires, in Tennessee Walkers there are many Midnights (from Midnight Sun), Ebonys (Ebony Masterpiece), Delights (Sun Delight D.), Generators (Pride's Generator) and Prides (Pride of Midnight H.F.). In Missouri Foxtrotters there are many Travelers (Missouri Traveler E.), Zanes (Zane Grey) and Sundusts (Sundust E.). The names Go Boy and Merry Boy are common to both breeds. Sometimes the sire's name is used in the possessive case (as in the case of Pride's Generator) or just part of the name (as in Unbelievable Pride). One tradition unique to these breeds is the addition of an initial at the end of the horse's name, usually the first letter of the breeder's last name. Although it is not required, it is common.

The American Saddlebred once has 'family' names similar to the other southern breeds, but in more recent years this tradition has given way to more fashionable, trendy names, often selected to enhance the horse's show ring image. "Artistic Impression," "Simply Mahvalous" and "She's Got the Look" are all typical of modern Saddlebred names. In the past, family names such as Denmark, Bourbon, Genius, Stonewall, and Peavine dominated Saddlebred names. Prefixes are occasionally used by Saddlebred breeders.

Morgans are one of the few American breeds where the use of prefixes is common. Probably the best known Morgan prefix is "Lippitt," which is widely used by model horse showers. Other well-known Morgan prefixes include Waseeka, Troutbrook, Orcland, and Equinox. Often these prefixes, particularly those of 'old' breeding, are followed by personal names with a New England favor; names like Ethan, Ash, and Allen. Another word that is frequently seen in Morgans is Command, which comes from the stallion Waseeka's In Command. Not all Morgans have had names with prefixes. Influential stallions with short, un-prefixed names include Trophy, Flyhawk, and Pecos. There is also a trend with modern Morgans towards pop culture names like are found in Saddlebreds, with names like Issues N' Answers and Suite After.

Stock breeds are known for naming with "family" names. In Quarter Horses family names are common, but prefixes are not used. Most Quarter Horse names are simple and may have contained several words. Red Sonny Dee and Zan Pan Barr are typical Quarter Horse names. Other words that are commonly seen in Quarter Horse names are Skip, Doc, and in older pedigrees, Poco (Poco Bueno). Other stock breeds follow similar naming patterns, with the family names Bright or Mighty (Mighty Bright), Dream (Dreamfinder) and Plaudit (Prince Plaudit) common in Appaloosa, and Robin (Painted Robin) common in Paints. Impressive (and its variations) was a word once found in many names of stock horses, but after the stallion Impressive was linked to a genetic defect, the name quickly fell out of favor. One thing that is peculiar to Quarter Horses is a rule banning the use of single initials at either the beginning or ending of the name, such as is commonly done with Tennessee Walkers.

As stated before, most British Pony breeds make use of prefixes. Common Welsh Pony prefixes are Coed Coch, Criban, and Llanarth. Common Shetland Pony prefixes are Onley and Marshwood, although many American Shetlands do not use prefixes. In ponies, names that follow tend to follow into several categories. Popular ones include flowers (Belvoir Snapdragon, Twyford Mistletoe), myth (Reeves Fairy Lustre, Grove Will O'the Wisp), "light" (Dyoll Starlight, Llanarth Sparkle) and qualities (Gatesheath Dainty, Lister Gladness). Most British native ponies are given names in English, with the possible exception of Welsh Cobs, which occasionally have completely Welsh names, and Welsh Ponies, which often have Welsh prefixes. (Pronunciation guide: In Welsh, the letters "Ll" have no English equivalent, but perhaps the closest is "hl" like saying "HULlo". It's sort of like making an L sound with your tongue and hissing. The letters "w" and "y" are considered vowels. "W" is pronounced as either "oo" like "fool" or "oo" like "took," depending on a short or long vowel. "Y" is pronounced as "I" as in "bin"--short vowel--or as "y" in "Myrtle." So the stallion Glyndwr would pronounced Glindoor. The double consonant "dd" is pronounced as a soft "th" sound as in the word breathe, so Mygddwn then would be pronounced Mithune.)

Naming of warmbloods varies by country and breed. In general, the names are short and distinctive. Ommen, Galoubet, Laiken, and Roemer are all typical warmblood names. In some breeds, such as the Dutch Warmblood, all the foals of a certain year will be given names that start with the same letter. German and Slavic warmbloods (Hanoverians, Holsteiners, and Westphalians, for example) are named with the first letter of the sire's name. An exception to this is found in the Trakhener, where the first letter of the foal's name is the first letter of the dam's name. This method of naming foals means that it is easy to trace sire and dam lines in the warmblood breeds, as long as you know which naming scheme is being used. For example, the Trakhener stallion Abdullah is by the stallion Donauwind, and out of the mare Abiza. Abdullah's name comes from his dam, Abiza. The sire, Donauwind, gets his name from his dam, Donalied (Donauwind's sire was Pregel out of Peraea). Abiza was by Maharascha (an Arabian) and out of Abendrot. It is important to remember that there is no different naming scheme for fillies versus colts; it all depends on the name of the sire (or dam in Trakheners).

Halfingers must be given a name that begins with the first letter of the stallion's name if it is a colt and the dam's name if it is a filly. Since there are only seven male lines in the breed, all male Halflingers' names must begin with A, B, M, N, S, St, or W. These letters come from the foundation stallions Anselmo, Bolzano, Massimo, Nibbio, Stelvio (S), Student (St), and Willi. There are more mare lines, so there is more variety in letter available for them, but common ones are C, L, M, O, P, R, U, and V. Halflinger names are usually one short word, though many American breeders add initials to the end of the name, such as "Channa of NTF" or "Amsel NTF".

The Icelandic Horse Federation has a rule that the ponies must have Icelandic names. Often these names indicate the pony's color or temperament, or are taken from mythology (Iceland's mythological world is closely related to that of Norway). Names are also gender-specific; male names end in "I", "ur", or "n" and mare names almost always end in "a". Usually the names are one word, although sometimes the breeder is indicated as in Bangsi fra Fitjamryi, which means "Bangsi who came from the Fitjamryi Stud". (Pronunciation guide: The Icelandic "ll" is pronounced "dl", so a name such as Skolli would actually be pronounced Skoldi.)

Lippizan stallions are also named by their sire line, with the eight sire lines being Pluto, Maestoso, Siglavy, Favory, Conversano, Neapolitano, Tulipan, and Initato. A stallion will be named first by his sire line and then by the name of his dam. So a stallion from the Pluto stallion line and out of the mare Bona would be named Pluto Bona. If the name has already been used, Roman numerals are added at the end. Mares are given names that begin with the same letter as their dams, and mare's names end with the letter "a". So Bona's daughters might be named Bonamia, Bonalea, and Bonamora.

Draft breeds in Britain are commonly named with a farm name or regional name prefix: examples being Doura Masterstroke and Deighton Bomber. The continental European heavies are commonly named with one-word names often having a French sound to them. In America, farm prefixes are quite common, as is the use of family names. In Percherons, Laet, Dragon, Don/Degas (for Don Degas), and "Kar" (Koncarlyps) are common. In American Belgians, Farceur and "du Marais" is often seen, as is "Con" or "Kon" for the Conqueror line.

Spanish breeds typically have names that are in Spanish or at least Spanish-flavored. Rosalita is a much more authentic name for a Spanish-bred mare than "Miami Rose," for example. There are some words commonly seen in Peruvians and Paso Finos, including the farm name suffixes "que Tal" (literally, "what's up?"), LaCE (pronounced la-say) and "de Besilu". Stallion names also show up as part of the offspring's name, such as Restorte (Restorte Cuatro IV), Plebyeo, Don (Don Cunda), and Capuchino.

Even within the breeds previously mentioned, the naming traditions may vary outside the breed's country of origin, and even from breeder to breeder. And again, many of these guidelines are a matter of tradition and not actual rules. Even the actual rules cannot be enforced within our hobby; no one is going to disqualify your Quarter Horse if his name is more than 20 letters long (although the judge may cuss every time she must type it in the results!) But taking the rules and customs involving naming into account when selecting a name for your model can add to the overall impression of realism that we strive to achieve.



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