Hi Duana,

I know your focus has pretty much exclusively been human names (real life babies and characters) - but would you consider helping out with horse names? It’s been 21 years since I last owned one, but yesterday I bought a new horse. He’s got an interesting past, and hopefully a promising competitive future. He’s an ex-racehorse who just retired from Hastings Park last October, and he’s now being retrained for his second career as a sport horse. I train and compete in the sport of three day eventing (like an equestrian triathlon - includes both Olympic disciplines of dressage and show jumping, with an additional phase of cross country jumping, which is sort of like Tough Mudder on horseback and is a galloping adrenaline-fuelled high risk glee-fest).

Naming horses allows for a fair bit more creativity than humans, but still poses a challenge in coming up with something that reflects character (even aspirationally, as sometimes they’re impossible jerks no matter what you call them) and that you want to hear announced over loudspeakers at competitions. Great ones can convey a sense of bravery, nobility, quirkiness, athleticism (for example, some favourites from international competitors in the past include Master Craftsman, The Volunteer, Armada, Get Smart, and racehorses Octagonal and American Pharaoh); they can also have a bit of sly humor (recent fave overheard locally: “now entering the ring, Jane Doe riding Oliver Money”). They can also be a play on the horse’s breeding, referencing names from his pedigree, or be drawn from his overall colour or look.

This new guy is a tall solid chestnut who looks like burnished copper in the sunshine. His registered Jockey Club name used for racing was Rollingintheaisles (because his mother was named Comic Opera; his sire was Cause to Believe), which I don’t mind but don’t love. I’d like to find a better name to compete him under. Ideas so far have been Comic Timing, to reference his racing name, or Wheat King. Beyond that… I’m open to ideas. Happy to provide photos if that would help.

I know it's a long shot, but I really hope you might enjoy turning your wonderful and clever mind to the fresh challenge of names for a real-life character that isn't a kid!


You know what, this is a new one and also, one of those ones I didn’t know I knew or cared about, but I do. Because discovering that horses have these extremely complicated names was a total revelation, and one I don’t even know if everyone knows about.

I met my cousin Deborah for real when I was 9 and she was 11. That is, obviously I knew she existed, but I was under age 3 in our two previous meetings, so the spectre of her was fascinating to me – including that she rode horses. When I met her, desperate to find something to talk about since our parents had taken off for the living room and summarily abandoned us, I remember shyly asking what her horse was called, and being just…so confused when she answered ‘Disco’. Cut to the first of many wacky cultural misunderstandings, since this was 1990 and ‘Disco’ to me was a horribly uncool kind of music.

But the misunderstandings were multiplied when we watched her in a televised event a few days later, and the horse was called “Sultry Discotheque Nights”.* This was the first time I learned that ‘professional’ horses, like dog-show dogs, have formal names and are sometimes more casually nicknamed. This might have been obvious if I had been the kind of girl who was into horse books (and the subcategory of those girls who never rode or were afraid of horses), but I wasn’t. “Misty of Chincoteague” only sunk in years later.

So I love this challenge. One of the first things that I twigged on was your talking about how he’s copper in the sunlight. Copper is my favourite colour, in circumstances where that’s not pretentious (then I go with green), so I had a few ideas along those lines:

In for a Penny
Penny from Heaven
Copper Pantheon
Copperboom  - this one only works if you’re a Gilmore Girls fan, but if you are, it’s a pretty awesome choice. 

Then from there I started thinking about lucky pennies (although that particular idiom didn’t come up that much as I expected), and immediately jumped to Felix Felicis –has both a given name and a smart turn of phrase and implies luck even if you don’t know the (Harry Potter, FYI) origin of the phrase.

But I liked that name so much I thought it might already be in use, so along those lines, and fully knowing I may be suggesting the Aiden and Emma of horse names:

Streak of Luck
Lucky Santangelo
Kind Felicitations

Rolling your eyes yet? I’m not going to blame you. After that, though, I started thinking about the fact that Rollingintheaisles is inherited from Comic Opera and thought there was room to keep the family tree going with:

Hilarity Ensues

…Which in addition to being a great name kind of has an indication of the passage of time, no? Plus you get the bonus of ‘Sue’ as a kind of counterculture, Johnny-Cash referencing, nickname or ‘barn name’ as the internet just told me they were called.  

I tossed around a few ‘Second Career’ type idioms but none felt as exciting or admirable as I hoped, and I felt like there were probably going to be enough references to ‘Chestnut’ already on the books. I did think about ‘Brown Study’, though, which I really like if he’s of a calmer or more thoughtful disposition.

Definitely let us know, and obviously include the pictures! And yeah, if you all had horses with awesome show names, hit me up, this is a world I knew nothing about.

*I have no idea what the actual show name of my cousin’s horse was, but I know the word discotheque was in it and I had no idea what that was. Also, I read that a horse name can only be 18 characters (which is why, I assume, Rollingintheaisles had no spaces) – I’m not sure whose rule that is and how widely it applies, but most of the names above qualify, for what it’s worth.