Caireen - photo by Renna Carver

Caireen – photo by Renna Carver

In her first blog post for HJU Renna Carver discusses the art of naming a horse.

That which we call a mare… would act just as mare-ish

Naming a horse can be very simple or very complicated. I usually end up making it much more of an affair than strictly necessary, but I am always happy with the names I finally land on.

There is an old notion that if you don’t re-name a new horse, then your relationship won’t pan out. I’m not saying this superstition is true, but I will say that I have no evidence against it being so. This was bouncing around in the back of my head at the beginning of this year, when I was looking to buy a new horse and move to Texas at the same time. The time for the move rolled around and I drove 1200 miles from Utah to Austin, where my new mare was waiting for me.

A 12-year-old bright bay Oldenburg, my girl is opinionated and bold. She pins her ears, not because she is upset, but to play hard-to-get with her affections. She is not a big nuzzler, and is a difficult but very rewarding ride. This warmblood shrew was very inaccurately named Charm. Her registered name is Coeur Enchante, which loosely translates to Charmed Heart, so the cheesy barn name could be easily forgiven. However, as she is neither a small trinket, nor did she seem particularly charming, “Charm” had to go.

There are many theories on how to pick a name. Obviously the registered names have the family ties or other such routines to find something not currently in use. Barn names are a whole other land, though, and I rather enjoy diving into them. My favorite way to pick a name is to find a theme for a few days and go with it. Try on as many different names as seem appropriate and try to fit it to the personality of the animal. I won’t firmly affix a name to a horse until I know them at least well enough to see if it fits. Obviously it takes a small eternity to know an equine inside and out, but it doesn’t take too long to at least try a few.

I think re-naming my girl took about a month. We went with a gun theme at first (my beloved dog is names Colt Revolver after the demon-killing super-gun from the TV show Supernatural) and floated around using Beretta as a name. Even when we switched to other themes, Beretta was still a contender.

So were: Cello, Tempo, Freya, Garnet, and Calliope. We pulled from guns, literature, gemstones, and mythology. We tried to find something that clicked, and almost nothing quite did. There were a few names that could have worked, but when I came across the name I picked, it just fit too well to give up.

Am I the only one who puts this much thought into this? I hope not. Use a favorite character from a book, use someone who inspires you, use jargon from a hobby, use anything to create something with more personality than “Brownie”, I implore you! My last gelding I named Aeos (Ay-ohss), which was one of the four horses that pulled the sun-chariot in Greek mythology. He started out as Harry. Harry was a skittish, pasture-happy, scrawny slip of a thoroughbred. Aeos was a bold, happy, muscular Eventer. New name= new horse.

I eventually landed on a name from Irish mythology that fit my girl. Caireen. A mother figure and protector of children and animals, “Caireen” just seemed to fit.  Upon asking her opinion, her ever pinned ears came to half mast, as if she were rolling it through her mind, judging its worth, and weighing the options. Eventually her ears turned full frontal, and she put her nose to my cheek. She had picked her name.

As it turns out, Caireen is secretly very affectionate. Two months into our relationship she still likes to pin her ears from time to time just to remind me that she has her own opinion about many things, but will readily make a cute and attentive face to get attention and love. She seems very happy with her new name, and I’m glad I took the time to put so much thought to it. Maybe we’ll meet some Horse Junkies in the future with names equally “off the beaten path.”

Ride on,

Renna and Caireen