How To Name A Horse – Breed Rules & Fun Expert Tips

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Are you wondering how to name a horse and find a perfect name for your new companion?

I remember when I bought my first lovely horse, I struggled with the naming process, so did some research on how to do it and decided on the name Annie.

Whenever I shout “Annie,” she flickers her ears, pokes her head out of the stable, and whinnies softly in response to her name.

I put together what I learned here; read on to find out.

Key Takeaways

  • Each horse has two names a registered name and a barn name or nickname. The registered name is the horse’s official name and is recorded with the appropriate breed registry.
  • There are different registries for naming the horses having their own rules, you have to follow these rules when registering your horse’s name.
  • You can get ideas for horse names from a horse name generator by basing them on the horse’s personality or appearance or from movies, books, or TV.

CHECK: Do Horses Know Their Name?

What Are The Steps To Name a Horse?

a lady fixing the horse's bridle as part of her daily horse care routine

There are a few different ways to name a horse. Some people choose to name their horses after saints, while others might give them names related to their coat colors.

Many people also use nicknames, which can be anything from a shortened form of their full name to a name that reflects their personality or habits. However, as far as the registered name is concerned, there are a few steps to consider.

1. Choose a Name for Your Horse

The name should be easy to say and remember, so it’s important to choose one that is both distinctive and easy to pronounce. Here are a few tips:

a. Brainstorm a list of names. Come up with a list of names that reflect your horse’s personality or character traits. Try to stick with one-word names, as these are good choices.

For example, you might like to name your female horse “Bambi” if she’s particularly gentle and timid. You can also get great name ideas from the detailed article on female horse names with meaning.

b. Narrow down the list. Once you have brainstormed a list of names, narrow it down to your favorites. It’s important to choose a name that you and your family can agree on.

c. Test out the names. Say the names out loud and see how they sound. You may want to ask friends and family for their opinion too.

d. Choose the perfect name. When you’ve found the perfect name, write it down.

e. Make sure the name is not already taken. You’ll need to check with your chosen horse registry to ensure the name you’ve chosen is not already taken.

2. Choose a Breed Association/Registry

Every horse breed has its own association or registry that keeps track of pedigrees and maintains registration records. You’ll need to choose one in order to register your horse.

For example, the Jockey Club breed registry is only for Thoroughbred racehorses, while for American Quarter Horses, it’s AQHA. 

Every breed association has its own rules for naming, so take a look at those before you sign up. The American Quarter Horse Association, for example, has very specific guidelines about what is and isn’t allowed. (1)

3. Register The Name With The Chosen Registry

The final step is to register your horse’s name with the chosen breed association or registry. This will ensure that your horse’s name is protected and can only be used by him/her.

The registration process is usually simple and straightforward. You will need to provide your horse’s name, date of birth, and parent’s names (if available).

Once the registration is complete, you will be issued a certificate of the registry, or it will be added to your horse’s passport, which you should keep in a safe place.

smiling lady holding the horse in the stall

What Are The Rules For Naming a Horse?

There are many different rules for registered horse names, depending on the breed. When registering a horse with a breed registry, the owner will be required to provide a name for the horse.

Thoroughbred Naming Rules

The Jockey Club has specific rules for naming a thoroughbred. (2) I have summarized these rules below.

The Following Name Classes Can’t Be Used:

1. Any name that is more than 18 letters long or consists entirely of initials.

2. Names that end with horse-related terms such as ‘colt’ and ‘stud.’

3. Names that are entirely numbers but with numbers above thirty and spelled out are allowed.

4. Names that end with a number like ‘1st’ or ‘2nd.’

5. Names of any living person without their written permission.

6. Names of racetracks, stakes races, or famous horses.

7. Names of the horses that are already been registered in The American Stud Book

The Name Cannot Be Profane or Offensive:

The name for the horse cannot contain any profanity or obscene meaning. It should not be in poor taste and also should not be offensive or threatening based on factors such as color, disability, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

The name must also not appear to be designed to harass, humiliate, or disparage a specific individual, group, or entity.

To learn more about naming a Thoroughbred, check out this video from a pedigree expert.

Quarter Horse Naming Rules

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) does not have as many naming restrictions. The name can be up to twenty characters in length, including spaces, and it does not have to follow any particular format.

You can write Arabic numerals at the end of a name as long as there is a space between the name and the number. However, the name cannot be the same as another registered horse or used within the past five years.

Like the Thoroughbred rules, profanity and offensive language are not allowed. In addition, the name cannot be that of a real person, living or dead, or be a famous racehorse or pop culture reference.

Warmbloods Naming Rules

The naming of Warmblood foals is governed by strict rules which are based on the horse’s pedigree, year of birth, place of birth, and/or gender.

These rules often dictate how many letters and spaces the name can have, how many words it can be, if it can include Roman numerals, and if it can be a duplicate of another registered or famous horse name. For Example;

a. KWPN-NA Naming Rules

  • Names are limited to 20 characters/spaces.
  • Names must coincide with the year of birth by using a required starting letter.
  • For example, the letter of 2022 is “S”, meaning all foals registered with KWPN-NA and born in 2022 must-have names that start with the letter “S”. In 2021, the letter was “R”.

b. Oldenburg Naming Rules

The name of the newborn must begin with the letter of the Dam’s name if it is a filly that will be bred.

If the filly is not intended for breeding, it can start with either the first letter of the Dam’s name or the first letter of the Sire’s name, but not with any other letter.

c. Belgian Warmblood (BWP) Naming Rules

According to BWP, every year will be assigned a specific letter for naming the foals born that year. For example, in 2021, BWP foals’ names started with the letter ‘V,’ while BRP foals’ names started with the letters C. [3]

d. Zangersheide Naming Rules

Zangersheide is a Belgian registry of sport horses associated specifically with warmbloods. All registered foals have “Z” at the end of their name, that’s why these horses are also called “Z horses.”

Tips and Tricks To Name Your Horse

If you are having trouble coming up with a registered name or barn name (nickname) for your horse, you can get help from the tips below.

Get Ideas from Registered Horse Name Generator

One way to come up with some good horse names is to use a horse name generator. There are many of these online, and they can be a lot of fun to use. Just enter your horse’s breed, sex, and color, and you’ll get a list of potential names.

Pick a Name Based on Your Horse’s Personality

My favorite way to name a horse is to find something related to the horse’s personality.

For example, one of my horses is named “Spirit” because she has such a free and wild spirit. I also have a horse named “Dreamer” because she is always daydreaming and seems to be in her little world.

Choose a Name Based on Your Horse’s Appearance

beautiful white horse

Another option is to choose a name based on your horse’s physical appearance. For example, if he or she has a lot of white markings, you might want to consider names like “Paint” or “Splash.”

If your horse is particularly tall, you might want to go with a name like “Giraffe” or “Killer.”

Get Inspiration From Movies, Books, or TV

If you’re having trouble coming up with a good horse name on your own, you might want to get some inspiration from movies, books, or TV. For example, some famous horses’ names from movies include “Mr. Ed” (from the TV show), “Hero”, and “Spirit” (from the movie).

ALSO READ: Can You Rename a Horse?


Can 2 horses have the same name?

No, two horses cannot have the same registered/ show name. Each horse must have a unique name that is registered with the appropriate breed registry.

Why are horse names so long?

Some horse names are long because they are named after their sire or dam. Other horse names are long because the owner wanted to choose a name that reflects the horse’s personality or the owner’s connection to the horse.

Why do horses have a registered name and a barn name?

A registered name is the horse’s official name that is recorded with the appropriate breed registry. A barn name is a nickname that is often used by the owner, trainer, or stable hands. Barn names are usually shorter and easier to pronounce than registered names.


A lot of people ask how to name a horse. You can choose a name based on the horse’s appearance, personality, or history. You can also simply pick a name that you like or that has meaning to you.

Ultimately, the best way to name your horse is whatever works best for you and your horse. With a little creativity, you are sure to come up with the perfect name for your new horse!


1. Naming Your AQHA Foal – AQHA [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 12]. Available from:

2. Jockey Club Interactive Registration [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 12]. Available from:

3. Naming & DNA Blood Typing – Belgian Warmblood – North American District [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 12]. Available from:

Siun L
Siun L

Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
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