What’s in a name? Rules on naming Icelandic horses make headlines

  • Naming horses can be a tricky business and choosing a name that will also fit in with the relevant stud book, breed society or sporting authority provides a further complication.

    For those wanting to register an Icelandic horse with the breed’s official studbook — WorldFengur — it must now make it past the naming committee. And “foreign” names or poor grammar are a no-no.

    The subject hit the headlines recently after the name Mósan (not pictured) was rejected for conflicting with Icelandic grammar rules.

    Under the rules, there is a list of approved names that owners can use. If it is not on the list, they can apply to have it added, but it must pass a number of regulations.

    It must have a tradition in the Icelandic language and/or be able to take the form of Icelandic grammar.

    “The name shall not violate the Icelandic system of grammar and spelling,” adds the rules.

    “The name shall be masculine for a stallion or gelding and feminine for a mare, neuter names are not allowed.”

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    It continues that names consisting of initials are not allowed and names given in poor taste, that have vulgar or obscene meaning or may be offensive to religious, political or ethnic groups are not allowed.

    Weatherbys, which maintains the thoroughbred breed register, is arguably one of the most famous other equine organisations to have strict naming rules.

    While names do not have to conform to correct grammar or spelling — see The Last Samuri and Definitly Red as examples — Weatherbys does have restrictions on names.

    There are 3,000 names that have been internationally protected, meaning they can never be reused — for example, Frankel. There are also around 250,000 names that have already been taken.

    It also rejects names which may be offensive to religious, political or ethnic groups and names considered in poor taste.

    Names with a vulgar, obscene or insulting meaning are also not allowed.

    However, a quick Google shows however stringent the rules, there will always be a few to slip through the net…

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