Choosing horse names is not as straight forward you might first think. There are many rules and conventions surrounding horse names that need to be considered if you have a horse looking for a name.

Most horses have a registered name, which is found on their passport and is used in racing or competition, and a second stable name that they are called at home. The stable name might be related to the registered name or it might not.

For example, Laura Tomlinson’s top dressage horse’s registered name is Mistral Hojris while his stable name is Alf and Charlotte Dujardin’s Olympic horse Valegro is known as Blueberry at home (both unrelated to their official names), while Carl Hester’s Uthopia is shortened to Uti.

The rules that some stud books implement apply to registered horse names, whereas stable names can be whatever you like. It’s generally considered bad luck to change a horse’s stable name and most stud books and sport governing bodies will not allow changes to a horse’s registered name.

Some studbooks have strict rules around naming horses. Thoroughbred racehorses are not usually named until they go into training, allowing their owner to choose a name rather than their breeder. Racehorse names must be no longer than 18 characters, can not be the same as a previously successful racehorse (so there will never be another Red Rum or Frankel for example) and they all have to be approved by the British Horseracing Authority.

Each sport horse studbook has it’s own rules. When naming an Oldenburg foal, a filly which will be used for breeding must have a name starting with the same letter as her dam. If the filly isn’t going to be a broodmare then her name can start with the first letter of her dam or the first letter of her sire, but no other letter. A colt foal’s name must start with the same first letter as his sire. Each studbook is different so it’s working checking before choosing a name.

Popular horse names

The Horse & Hound team are interested in finding out what are the most popular horse names currently in use around the world, and whether there are any common themes among breeds, sports or locations.

With this in mind, we are inviting readers to complete this short online form and we will be reporting back on the findings in due course. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to share their horse’s details with us.