According to equine behavior specialists, horses can be trained to know their names because they respond to the human tone of voice, but can you rename a horse? (4)
Horses can be renamed, but only if they do not have a show record.
In this article, I will go over the circumstances when a horse can be renamed and what happens if its name changes.
Table of Contents
- It is possible to change a horse’s name
- Not all studbooks allow name changes
- Horses respond to voice tones instead of specific words
- There is a superstition that it is back luck to rename a horse
Check out mare horse names for fun ideas.
Can You Change a Registered Horse Name?
Can you change a registered horse’s name? This depends on where you are trying to change their name.
In breed registries, such as the AQHA studbook, registered names can only be changed if they are offensive or the horse does not have a show record (1).
Changing your horse’s name is a personal decision and should not be taken lightly. Some horse owners choose to keep their horse’s name for life, while others change it several times.
Is It Okay to Change a Horse’s Name?
Yes and no. While in most cases, changing a horse’s registered name won’t get you in trouble as long as you follow the organization’s rules.
However, it is a good idea, though not always mandatory, to respect any prefixes or suffixes added to the name by the horse’s breeder. These are added not only to promote the stud that bred the horse but also, and sometimes even more important, to the breeder because they allow them to track the horse’s career.
Breeders want to see their horses out in the world doing well, and it can be quite disappointing when one disappears because its registered name is changed.
However, changing a horse’s barn name has no restrictions, and you can change this as you wish. Most horses even have several nicknames in their lifetime that suit their personality.
However, superstition in the horse world says that changing a horse’s name is bad luck. They say riders who change their horse’s name will have a hard time with that horse.
I have never changed a horse’s name, but unless I didn’t say I liked it, I would keep it to honor its history.
Can Horses Learn a New Name?
There is no scientific work that shows this is possible. Like dogs, horses recognize and respond to the tone of our voice rather than words themselves (4)
They know a high-pitched tone is positive, and a lower, more aggressive one is negative. Horses respond to you because they can distinguish your voice from others.
Horses could be trained to learn their name just like they are prepared to respond to other commands, but this does not mean they know it is their name.
Here is a video showing miniature horses that have been trained to respond to their name.
What Happens If You Rename Your Horse?
If you are only changing their barn name, nothing happens except that you have to let the barn team and any friends or family interacting with your horse know that you will be calling them something different.
Do horses recognize their owners? They do, and if you name them something different but keep the tone of your voice the same, they should respond when called.
If you are changing their registered name, you will have to fill out the appropriate forms and pay the fees so that your horse will have its accomplishments registered under its new name.
Once you change the registered name, it is updated on their papers if they are part of a breed association. Announcers and judges will also use the new name when referring to your horse.
If you’re interested in learning more about the role of gender in horse naming, be sure to check out our article on the topic! We explore the traditions and trends surrounding this fascinating aspect of equine culture.
How Do I Change My Horse’s Registered Name?
To change a registered name for any horse within any organization, such as USEF, AQHA, or the FEI, you have to submit the corresponding name change form and fees.
Once these are submitted to the organization, the name change will need to be approved by them before it is official. This process shouldn’t take more than a week.
Once organization officials approve the name change, it will be permanent and reflected on your horse’s records.
Check out what to name your horse if you want cool ideas.
Can you change the name of a racehorse?
Racehorse names can only be changed if they have not been raced or bred, and the Jockey Club charges a fee to change it.
Can you rename a horse? Yes, their registered name can be changed if you follow the rules and pay the associated fees for any organizations they are in.
Their barn name can be changed at will. Horses can be trained to respond to their name, but they are more prone to react to the tone and pitch of your voice.
Did you ever rename your horse? Let us know in the comments section!
- 1. How do I change my horse’s registered name? Is there a form/fee? [Internet]. helpcenter.aqha.com. Available from: https://helpcenter.aqha.com/knowledge/-how-do-i-change-my-horses-registered-name-is-there-a-form/fee
- 2. HORSE NAME CHANGE GUIDELINES Definitions [Internet]. Available from: https://inside.fei.org/system/files/Horse%20Name%20Change%20Guidelines_01.03.2020.pdf
- 3. Horse Services [Internet]. US Equestrian. [cited 2022 Oct 21]. Available from: https://www.usef.org/compete/resources-forms/horse-services
- 4. MA CL-L. Do Horses Know Their Names? Probably, But It’s Complicated [Internet]. The Horse. 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 21]. Available from: https://thehorse.com/1109140/do-horses-know-their-names-probably-but-its-complicated/
Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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