7 Tips to Name Your Foal in 2024

by Matt Johnson, Equine Facility Design

Welcoming a new foal into the world is a thrilling journey cherished by every horse owner. With the 2024 foaling season around the corner, breeders anticipate one of most significant and exciting decisions of the year: choosing the perfect name for their new foals! Did you know that certain breeds have traditions where foals are named based on the first letter corresponding to the year of their birth? For instance, breeds like Thoroughbreds or Standardbreds often associate each year with a specific letter for naming foals.

Naming a foal is a quest to define its personality, pedigree, or highlight a distinctive characteristic. Finding the perfect name is a challenge—it needs to be unique, memorable, and align with the character of the horse. Here are our top tips to find the ideal name for your new colt or filly:

1. Breed-Specific Considerations

Understand the naming rules for your foal’s breed. Whether it’s adhering to the designated letter for the year or specific character limits, compliance with these regulations is important for registry purposes.

In 2024, certain breed registries uphold specific naming rules:

KWPN-NA Naming Rules: Names must align with the birth year, limited to 20 characters/spaces. For 2024, the designated letter is “U,” requiring all KWPN-NA registered foals born in 2024 to have names commencing with this letter. Previous years had designated letters like “T” in 2023, “S” in 2022, and so on.

Thoroughbred (TB) Regulations: Names are capped at 18 characters, including spaces and punctuation. Pure numerical names are prohibited, but numbers above 30 can be spelled out. Suffixes like “2nd” or “3rd” are not allowed.

American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Regulations: Names are at the owner’s discretion, following AQHA naming policies, capped at 20 characters. Arabic numerals are allowed, separated by a space.

2. Heritage and Bloodlines

Drawing inspiration from parents or ancestors can pay homage to its heritage. Incorporating the sire or dam’s name, their first letter, or a variation can be useful in remembering the lineage of the foal. This can be a helpful trick in large breeding facilities with multiple foals born in a specific year, helping to identify which foal comes from which stallion based on name hints. For example, Thoroughbred and Triple Crown winner “American Pharoah”, had foals bearing names like “Cafe Pharoah” and “Danon Pharaoh”.

3. Personality Traits

Observing the foal’s behavior and personality can provide inspiration for its name. Is it energetic and playful? Or perhaps calm and gentle? Choosing a name that reflects these traits can create a strong connection between the horse and its name.

4. Embrace Uniqueness

While traditional names are timeless, don’t be afraid to get creative. Unique names can make your horse stand out and showcase its individuality.

5. Wait for the Right Moment

Avoid rushing the naming process. Take time to understand the foal’s characteristics; the perfect name might reveal itself over time. Keep a list of potential names for future reference – jot them down to avoid the disappointment of forgetting a fantastic name!

6. Symbolism and Meaning

Consider names with meaningful symbolism or historical significance, aligning with traits you admire or aspire to for the horse’s future.

7. Brainstorm and Share Ideas

Engage with fellow horse Sometimes, a fresh perspective or a brainstorming session with others passionate about horses can spark inspiration. Discussing potential names and sharing insights about your foal’s unique traits might lead to discovering the perfect name you hadn’t considered before.

Selecting a name for your foal is a tribute to its heritage and a peek into its future journey. Remember, a name is more than a just a designation—it’s a testament to the lineage, character, and the uniqueness of your newly arrived foal!