This is not the blog post I set out to write this morning.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not even sure what I was going to write. I think it was something about how I'm terrible at naming books. That's mainly because I've been editing my forthcoming novel, about a three-day-eventing rider, and I feel like the title is a terrible mistake in this age of Google and online searching and accidental anonymity through uncreative titles. (The title is Ambition, by the way, which sums the book up perfectly, so if anyone would like to comment on that, your thoughts are welcome.)
But it somehow morphed into a post on naming horses, and the realization that as bad as I am at naming books, I might be worse at naming horses. I might have the worst taste imaginable. Possibly.
Read on, fearless equestrians, and tell me what you think.
It feels like this great, grand responsibility, granting a name to a horse. And in a way, it is -- especially if you subscribe to the superstitious belief that changing a horse's name is bad luck. I definitely agree with that superstition, as long as the name isn't too stupid.
But on another level (also, possibly, spiritual in nature) I've always had this grand idea that you're bestowing an identity on an animal for the rest of his or her life. Be it grand, or be it comical.
It's always a wonder to me when a horse with a name like Cocoz Lil Zipper or DivorceLawyerWins or something horrid like that wins a race. I think "Wow, horse, way to overcome the total lack of self-respect you've been awarded by whoever named you." And then I think of a much better, more high-minded, literary/lyrical/literal name that I would have granted that brave, persevering horse, had I but been given the opportunity.
|Princessforaday, Dayjur-Gallapiatsprincess. My husband named her.|
And then, in research for this blog post (yes, "research"), I was glancing down a 2008 entry at New York Times' horseracing blog, The Rail. The 500 worst-named racehorses of all time! This is perfect. I'm scrolling through, chuckling, shaking my head, and then...
I see it.
My favorite racehorse name of all time.
I Died Laughing.
Oh, the heartbreak.
I Died Laughing was a 2000 bay filly by Montbrook and out of Regal Ties, by Regal and Royal, according to pedigreequery.com. When I was frequenting the pavilion at Ocala Breeders' Sales back in my Florida days, I Died Laughing's name was one of those Florida-bred regulars in the catalogs, showing up time and time again in different listings and sales.
So obviously, I Died Laughing's name had zero-zip-nada to do with her breeding, but I didn't care. I loved it. I said it aloud. I giggled. I pointed it out to people. Her name it's so awesome.
(My husband agreed. My husband humors me, though. I know this.)
I began to think a little more deeply about my taste in racehorse names. And another favorite came to mind: Enjoy the Silence. Another broodmare regular, her foals going through the sales at various ages, I fell in love with her from afar. When she finally went through the sale herself, I hurried to the walking ring to see her. At last! Enjoy the Silence! I'd been loving her in print for years, now I would see her in the flesh.
And she was a chestnut.
And, I mean, I love chestnuts. So much. But her name was Enjoy the Silence. That's an awesome Depeche Mode song. Obviously she would be black, or at least dark bay, and she would look around the walking ring with an air of haughty disapproval, as if all of us humans in our stupid uniforms of blue jeans and polo shirts with our logos embroidered on the chest and our stallion-show baseball caps were the lowest of the low.
But she really just looked like the nicest ol' broodie you ever saw in your life.
Which probably shouldn't have been a come-down, but it was, after all I had built up in my mind for a mare called Enjoy the Silence.
So maybe it doesn't matter what a horse's name is. Maybe I've been wrong all these years, with my high-minded notions and superstitious suspicions about the value of a name. After all, of my two favorite names, one is apparently the worst name ever and the other gave me a completely mistaken idea of what the horse was actually like.
Or maybe I'm just terrible at horse names.
So here is a little exercise for you. Here are several names of horses from my books. Which ones do you like? Which ones don't you like? And what, in your opinion, makes for a great horse name?
Can't wait to see what you think on this one! (And if you like, I'll tell you where the inspiration for the name came from.)
A few racehorse names from "The Head and Not The Heart," "Other People's Horses," and "Claiming Christmas":
-The Tiger Prince
-Virtue and Vice
And here's that list of the worst-named racehorses of all time. "I'm Ugly But Fast" really does belong on the list.