I finished my little tobiano pony custom and saddled him (pun intended) with the overly large name of Lieutenant Kernel Panic. This strange but satisfying moniker got me thinking about model horse names in general.
Lieutenant Kernel Panic, a creature of small statue and large name
Kernel’s name is multiple nerd joke wordplay. Lieutenant Kernel (Colonel) is inspired by the dashing hero of Stargate: Atlantis, Lt. Col. John Sheppard. Kernel panic is what happens to a Mac or other Unix-like computer system when it encounters an error it cannot recover from. In Windows, the equivalent is commonly referred to as the Blue Screen of Death. So I combined then both into a lovely, nerdy, stupidly-long name.
And Kernel’s not the only one who was named after a fictional character. My Fjord stallion Kettil Blacksmith is named after a character in the ridiculous 1989 movie Erik the Viking. Like his namesake, Kettil is beloved by the ladies. My Kladruber stallion is named after another Stargate character, Dr. Radek Zelenka. Radek is a cool name, and it’s perfect because Kladrubers are Czech and so is Dr. Zelenka. Nightfox is named after the suave master-thief from Ocean’s Twelve. That one is less due to character resemblance and more to a cool name and good timing- I re-watched the movie around the same time I finished the so-far-nameless horse.
George Clooney (Danny Ocean) and the Night Fox (Vincent Cassell) in Ocean’s Twelve. Photo from imdb.com © 2004 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc
As a linguistics fan, many of my horse’s names are word play or simply phrases that I like. Troy Soldier gets double points for being a classics reference too. Sunset Highway, Typhoid Mary, Penny Candy, and Rabbit are all random names that I fancied, usually assigned before or during the sculpting and painting process. Chryselephantine‘s name inspired the horse herself: her name means “made of gold and ivory” and thus spawned a bright palomino Saddlebred.
Rumble Strip is a name I’ve been saving since childhood. I had many imaginary horses as a kid, including a bay Thoroughbred race horse named Rumble Strip. So when I was planning my race horse diorama I made sure to make him the winner.
A Rumble Strip to call my own
My model horse’s names come from all sorts of inspirations, but I try to generally respect a breed’s naming conventions or rules: for example, I checked to make sure that Kernel’s name doesn’t go over the 35 character limit for the Shetland Pony Registry. But sometimes I fudge it too- Chryselephantine is an esoteric Greek word instead of the showy pop culture names common for American Saddlebreds, and Penny Candy fails to reference the Spanish roots of the Azteca breed. But I’d rather be happy with the name then adhere to protocol perfectly. Otherwise I end up changing the name, like I did with
Sierra Roana Senna Penny Candy.
Perhaps the easiest models to name are portraits of real horses. Doublet, Fritz, Jaime, and Diamond are all based on real horses and share their names. The naming becomes more difficult if you can’t choose between the real horse’s full name or barn name. But since Jaime had the unfortunate generic stock horse name of Ambrosia Bar Magic, I’ll stick with the nickname I knew and loved.
I keep a list of good potential names, since I come up with them faster then I get horses. But often, nothing on my list fits quite right. If you’re having trouble coming up with a name for a horse, check out some of the following resources for inspiration:
- The IPABRA’s page on Naming the Model Horse provides information on common registry requirements and customs & traditions by breed. The page is a bit outdated so registry requirements should be double checked, but it’s a good place to start.
- Dreamhorse is a national horse sales site that allows searching by breed and other factors. It’s great for finding inspiration and a quick introduction to common name families within a breed.
- Farm webpages (found through registry sites or google) are a fun, image-filled way to get name ideas. You might find a horse whose name you’d like to borrow. Or, even if you aren’t into pedigree assignment, you can use a mare and stallion match to brainstorm names for a hypothetical foal.
I’d love to hear some reader ideas and stories about naming. Knowing how much the model horse hobby and sci-fi fandoms intersect, I bet I’m not the only one out there with a Stargate inspired pony!