Changing a horses name

Stacy,  You are a great inspiration to me as a lifelong horse lover. You are a woman of faith and a veteran horse person. I want to know if you would ever or have ever changed a horse’s name that you acquired? After I had “renamed” three different horses, I met a cowboy (not a man of faith) who said it was “bad luck” to change a horse’s name. I had never heard that but asked a few other horse friends and they confirmed the cowboy’s info. I don’t believe in bad luck but I must be honest – i had bad experiences with all three horses – granted I have been working hard with trainer to learn from my past mistakes…I have had many great horse experiences as well which is why I continue to pursue my horse dreams.
I recently acquired a new horse whose name I did not change and we are having a blast…
Also, I’m not interested in sharing your answer, definitely a personal and faith reconciling issue – any insight would be appreciated.
Many blessings to you, your family and business,
Kim k



I guess there are many ways to look at this one. There is changing the ‘legal’ or registered name (which I have done before) or changing the barn name (which I have done before). The ‘legal’ name is harder to change but doesn’t really get used much so I am guessing you are talking mostly about the barn name.

Around here barn names have both come in with the horses (this is Popcorn) or sometimes we get in horses with no barn name (Hailey’s yearling). If the horse comes in with a name and is staying with the same owner than the name generally sticks…as long as it fits the personality. If it is a new horse for an owner and they don’t love the barn name then sometimes the name will be used ‘loosely’ for awhile while everyone tries to identify something that fits better.

As you know all horses have different personalities. Like people some develop nicknames, shortened names, or pet names while other do not.

You may remember the palomino I bought last fall. He had a registered name but the breeder had never given him a pet name and the two trainer he was sent to before they decided to sell him never saw fit to name him either. When he came to me to be sold I thought he would be a fun project and that we would enjoy learning from each other…but he needed a name. I leaned towards Trigger (palomino….) but after opening it up to Face-book names began to flood in. As we read them all one made everyone laugh, “Twinky”. I wasn’t in love with it…but it wouldn’t go away. And it made people laugh. ‘Look at my new horse Twinky’ is a funny sentence. The fact that Twinky also held a grudge against the past training methods used on him made it even more important to laugh when around him. So ‘Twinky’ stuck.

Popcorn, who many of you know, was named at The Road to the Horse because he came from the Cornelius (‘corn’) Ranch. I do call him Popcorn although more often he is ‘Poppy!’. Our dogs name is Trouble although he is often called ‘troubley-bubblely’, ‘troubes’, or ‘tweeb-le’….strange variation on his name.

My once stallion, now gelding is Vaquero. His registered name is TSW Can Can Vaquero and his nickname is Vaquero. I have tried playing with the name, attempting a pet name, but he his not that kind of a horse. The same way some people fit pet names while others you would never dream of attempting a pet name with.

I have one customer who ‘always wants a Lady in the barn’ so….he will usually have a mare named Lady. Yes, one after another! Another customer had a mare that was bred to the same stallion three years in a row. Each baby looked like a clone of the last and because the first one was named ‘Jackie’ along came ‘Jackie Two’ and ‘Jackie Three’.

I, like you, don’t believe in bad luck. In the end the horses around here tend to name themselves and as their personalities grow and change sometimes those names change with them.

Ride with Faith,

PS-With the volume of horse and name changes I have seen I can make no connection between keeping the name and having success vs changing the name and having problems.


  1. Jackie on June 6, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    I love the guy who always has a “Lady” in the barn. Growing up we had several female dogs and no matter the breed or size the dogs had one of two names, Lady or Puppy. That is it!

  2. Jodi on October 7, 2013 at 2:02 am

    I really believe the horse has a name inside of him/her and is just waiting for you to figure it out! I just bought a Tennessee Walker whose registered name is Gen-u-wine Giorgio and he was called Cruze by his 1st owner and Scooter by his 2nd (the folks I bought him from). Well, I hated both those names – especially Scooter as I saw it as a sort of “joke” name to them (the husband couldn’t control his mare named Mercedes so they traded for a “Scooter”). Well, this horse is an elegant refined gentleman with a sometimes silly personality. I had him for weeks before we “found” his name – Sterling! A synonym for genuine (I wanted his barn name to relate to his registered name) and certainly a description of his fine, upstanding personality and calm demeanor!

  3. Coleen on September 19, 2012 at 1:54 am

    I am searching for a new name for my horse – she is an AQHA Appendix with the Registered name of Ole Uster – what kind of a name is that? I bought her from a woman who called her Sassy and I don’t like that barn name either!

    To me, I do not want a horse that has the name to go with the personality like, Buck, Spook, Bolt, Satan’s Spawn – hey, do you see where I am coming from? Am I wrong? Sure I am over 50 and have had 2 pretty bad falls – the first fall was not off of her but the 2nd was and i have to take full responsibility for that one. I do not need any more bad luck.

    Please, please, please wear those helmets!!

    I asked her tonight to let me know what she wants to be called – hopefully it will come to me.

  4. Missie on March 2, 2012 at 9:16 am

    The way I see it – if the horse knows their name, why confuse them and change it? To me it’s the same as telling a friend you are now going to call them “Suzy” because you don’t like “Linda”.

    They all have pet names and no so pet names . . . But after a while the name they came with is just who they are!

  5. Jess on March 2, 2012 at 5:41 am

    I have also heard that it’s bad luck to change a name. Although I’m not superstitious by any means, that’s one thing I do follow. I do know people who have changed their horses’ names without any problems, even after having been with the horse for awhile (they leased the horses while the horses had one name. After awhile, they ended up buying that horse and then changed the horses’ names). When I first got my mare, Sierra, she was on a 1-week trial at my barn from a sale barn. I was originally told her name was Slurpee. There was NO WAY ON EARTH I was having a horse named Slurpee! My 1st mare was quite the Diva (her name was Gypsy Girl). I had lost her a month earlier to a heart attack, so in her memory, I was going to rename this mare Diva. Later that day, I found out her name was Sierra, not Slurpee. I loved that, so I decided to keep it. Being that my 1st mare had 2 names (she was originally Gypsy, but I called her Gypsy Girl), I figured Sierra should have a middle name. I always loved the name Lynne, so she became Sierra Lynne. I do tend to call her CC or just C for short sometimes.

  6. Heather on March 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I too was told I would have bad luck if I changed my horses barn name but I do not believe that its always been the opposite for me, I suppose it’s all in how you look at it. My mare responded better to her new name than to her old one =)
    I figured new horse, new place so a new name was appropriate!!

  7. juliesell on March 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    My dad is a horse trader so there have literally been thousands of horses that have come and gone from our ranch. As a young girl, giving names to all the horses that would be sold to other ranchers was my job. It was so fun! A few of my favorites were Sue Buck, Trigger, Black, Dusty, Shadow, Sledgehammer, Leo, Shorty, Buck, Brown Jug, Hepsabia, Squaw, Injun Joe, Tangent, Cheyenne, Charlie, Redman, Amos and Andy (twins), and Duel Purpose (he was part of our bucking string and a riding horse). The names go on and on. What I do know is that horses name themselves and each horse interacts somewhat differently with each person they meet (they buck with men but not women, for example). I agree names are for us and we love them all the more when we can name them something that shows how close to our heart they are.

  8. Ilene on March 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    I also do not think it is a bad thing… I think in some cases, such as neglected or abused rescues, changing the name can bring a sense of healing or shedding off a bad chapter in their life story?
    I have a QH Mare Frisky Little Lena. Her breeder called her Lena (and does to this day!). When I had seen her I fell in love immediately and that night I dreamed that I was speaking to someone about buying a horse and they said isn’t that a little risky? From that moment I knew her name would be Risky. She’s earned the nickname Risky Jones and Jonesy as well but she is my little Risky for sure. Besides, my name is Ilene and Lena? It just didn’t work! 😛

  9. Alli Farkas on March 1, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I think that to a great extent we make our own “luck”. The more observant we are of all that exists around us, the more likely we are to make decisions that work in our favor. As for changing horses’ names, my OTTB came to me with the registered name “Ticket Changer”. There was no way I was going to call him either of those things. He has been “Billy” for 12 years now, and is variously called Billy-Goat, Goober, Poop-de-doop or whatever else comes to mind at the moment. He’s a wonderful horse and he really doesn’t care what I call him, and neither does Lady Luck.

  10. Hollie on March 1, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    I know that I changed my little mares name when I got her… she was a filly then. She was given the name Misty, but at the time I was asking God for a new filly that I could start from the ground up as a baby. My “old man” is almost 30 and I don’t use him as much or as intensly as I used to, and really wanted to have another one in the works as he continues to gracefully age. 🙂
    It wasn’t a week later a man stopped by our place out of the blue (didn’t know him) and he said, “I saw your horses out in the field. It looks like you take great care of them. I have a filly that I can’t keep anymore and was wondering if you would like one more?”
    Needless to say I was amazed and humbled by the delight that God was taking in every detail of my life (Psalms 37:23) and that is how I got Misty and immediately renamed her Blessing. She fits that name through and through and I thank God for delighting in me in such a sweet way that He would literally bring her to me!

  11. Camilla Sørskår on March 1, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    If anybody has seen the old Disney Classic “”Petes Dragon” the dragon Elliott is what gave me my idea for a name.

    I went to try a Friesian,and I liked him,but didnt like his name…It was Elle…

    Elle for me seemed like many things…
    To “butlerish” to serious,and also…to feminine for a gelding.

    So I went home after trying ,and deciding he was going to be mine, I boosted my brain for names…
    Friends at Facebook helped me,but all they gave me was the typical names I didnt want…
    The Blackie,Triton,Conan,Zevs kinda names…
    I want funny,but strong names with personality.
    Well…to the point..One day I came over the old movie “Petes Dragon” and I only saw it when I was about 6 and didnt understand english that well (Im Norwegian=) So I didnt remember it or even think of the name…
    Soo…when I saw Elliott in the movie…I saw the Friesian I waited for to come/be delivered…Funny,strong,calm but opinionated,and all that…So my Friesian is now called Elliott. 🙂
    I love the name and he fits it very very well! So if you see the movie you will see my horse 😛

  12. Janet Hall-Gilbert on March 1, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I have 4&1/2 horses, and only one has stuck with her registered name. MIX Cheery Kola Baron, for short she is called Kola, only because nothing seem to stick with her. On the other had my walker is WRW’s Wind Whisper he got called Pooh Bear right from the start, because of his gentle manner. Mindy has just been Mindy because of her sassy additude. Now my standard bred Annie, she is sweet pear, cause she tries so hard, and when she gets it. It’s there for good. Now I come to the half horse Stanley, when we bought him his name was sweeti pie. Not a great name for a man, and he was anything but sweet,even to this day his name will change from cockeroch to what ever pops out of your mouth when dealing with him, but when he is not being a little guy with a big mans syndrom, he is called little feller. So like Stacy I don’t believe in bad luck your just a victim of circumstances.

  13. stonepony1s on March 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    I also have not had problems with horses because I changed their barn names. I have a Qh mare that is named Toll Peppy Dun. I don’t like Dunny or Toll or even Peppy. She does not look like a peppy to me and she is not a peppy acting horse. she is a red dun and very laid back. So I called her Nutmeg after her color. Dumb name I know, but nobody in my family could come up with a better one. So now she is Nutmeg or Nut sometimes or Nutty. Which is not a good name for her either. She does not seem to care what we call her as long as she gets fed, and petted. When I go out to call the horses up from the pasture I just yell “Hoorrrssseeessss”, and they come. I fugured they would come no matter what I called them if they heard the long drawn out sound of my voice so one day I tried it out to see. So I called out “Elleeeppphhhaanttss” and they came anyway. I always figured the horse does not care, the names are for us. It is a people thing. One of my rules is that each horse is an idividual and that it needs an individule name so I seldome allow two horses to have the same name. If we get a Kate then we have to change it because we already had a Kate once. I don’t believe in Luck either. I believe in God and I don’t think he cares what we name our horses or pets, as long as it is not vulger or evil. He does not want us thinking vulger or evil thoughts or saying such words as it hurts our soul.

  14. Candace on March 1, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Ive had my new horse for almost 2 months and still haven’t found that name that fits her perfect.. I’ve just been calling her the little mare.. Hopefully we think of something soon or that will probably end up being her name.. Lol.. I don’t think it’s bad luck to change their name..

  15. Olivia on March 1, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I have changed my horse’s name before. When I got him he was named Nick. Before that he was Nip. I changed him to Red and it stuck. I have never had very big problems with him- personally, I think he’s perfect 😀

  16. Gardenjoy Tales and Poems on March 1, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Interesting post 🙂

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