The Challenges of Naming a Foal

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Did you know that there is one common North American database system used to reserve the name of a foal or apply for a name change? Considering the number of foals registered yearly by both Standardbred Canada and the United States Trotting Association, there is no question that naming a foal nowadays presents a daunting challenge. The following rules and guidelines should help you understand why your name choices may have been rejected in the past, and help you to choose suitable names for your foals in the future.

Name Length and Accepted Characters

A name cannot be comprised of more than four (4) words. It cannot have more than eighteen (18) characters (including spaces) or less than two characters. Numbers and symbols are not allowed.

Using a Previously-Registered Name

A name cannot be reused unless the horse with the original reserved name has remained inactive in breeding and/or racing for at least fifteen (15) years. This rule applies to names that are similar in sound or spelling. For example, you decide you would like to name your foal DARK NIGHT. If there is a horse already registered with the name DARK NITE, DARK KNIGHT or DARK NIGHTS that has raced or bred or been bred during the last fifteen (15) years, your choice of name DARK NIGHT would be considered a duplicate name and would be rejected.
There are some exceptions to reusing a previously reserved name. In a situation whereby the unfortunate occurs and a horse dies or has its name changed prior to becoming two-years of age OR if a horse dies or has its name changed before racing or being used for breeding purposes, the name is exempt from the fifteen (15) year waiting period for reuse and can be used again ONLY if the death of the horse with the original reserved name has been reported to the registry body (SC or USTA).

Reserved Names

Names that have been reserved as prefixes or suffixes can only be used by the member to whom exclusive use was granted for the purpose of naming horses where that member is the breeder and owner of record. For example the word ARMBRO has been reserved for Armstrong Bros. and can only be used by Armstrong Bros. when Armstrong Bros. is the breeder and owner of record of the foal.
A complete list of reserved farm names is available here.
In addition to reserved farm names there are names that have been reserved for certain horse families. That is to say that the name can only be used if it appears in part of the sire or dam’s name. Reserved family names are considered ancestry foundation names for the Standardbred breed.
An example of a reserved family name is “Pacific Fella”. The name FELLA was granted to Pacific Fella due to the fact that his sire CAM FELLA inherited the reserved family name FELLA from the grand sire MOST HAPPY FELLA.
A complete list of reserved family names is available here.
The name of an outstanding horse can never be released for re-use. An outstanding horse is defined as follows:
  • A horse that has earned over $250,000 or has a mark of 1:55 or better. (A horse born before 1980 is considering outstanding if he has had a mark of 2:00 or better or has earned $100,000 or more.)
  • A broodmare who has produced an outstanding horse as defined above

Rejected Names

Names may be rejected if they are considered misleading as to family, origin or sex. Following are some examples:
  • MACH MY DAY should only be used if it was sired by MACH THREE
  • MY GAL should only be used if it was a filly
  • A horse’s name cannot include a suffix reserved for the various countries of origin such as A (Australia), F (France), GB (Great Britain), N (New Zealand), S (Sweden).
Other names that will be rejected include:
  • Names that include vulgar or offensive words
  • Names that are registered trademarks
  • Names of famous or notorious people unless the request for name clearance is accompanied by a written consent from the famous or notorious person
While Standardbred Canada continues to work in co-operation with the United States Trotting Association to reserve horse names and reject those names that may be considered offensive or vulgar, the system is not foolproof and from time-to-time certain names do get passed us that are not within the guidelines of our rules.

Name Lookups

Standardbred Canada’s TrackIT is a great way to research your name choices and of finding out if a much sought-after name is currently in use before sending your choices to us. However, please keep in mind that reserved names for horses that are not fully registered will appear available on TrackIT until such time as registration has been granted by either registry body. To subscribe to TrackIT, click here.
If you have any questions about naming a horse that we have not covered in these guidelines, please feel free to contact the SC foal registration department at (905) 858-3060.


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