In Arian riding center in Tehran, where I was riding the beautiful KPNW mare, Nadia, I was invited to see the most valuable horse in the stables. “She costs 200,000 Euro,” he told me. “The highest level showjumping horse. Her name…” Here he paused. “Her name is Julia.”
That encounter made me think: why do we give our horses human names? I’ve ridden 50+ horses in 25 countries over the last 5 years. I do have some data for statistical analysis :-).
Almost half the horses I’ve ridden had human names or surnames as bynames. To name a few: Nadia, Romeo, Mr. Buttons, Mozart, Aramis, Ricado, Farida… And it doesn’t matter which part of the world I’m in, I can always find some equine Bellas, Jessies, Kevins or – wait for it – once, I even met a Pushkin!
And to be absolutely honest, I don’t mind having equine or canine namesakes, but other people do… To the extent that the Russian Orthodox Church consider it a sin, for it’s not befitting to give an animal the same name as a saint.
On the other hand, Kazakhs, for example, very often give human names to their horses. And vice versa – affectionately calling their kids “my frisky foal” or “my little colt”.
As animals become members of our families and we do believe that they have minds and souls, and at times are more trustworthy than some people, we name them as kids.
Do you own or ride a horse with a human name? Or have you ever met your equine namesake? And if you have, how did it make you feel?