Prefixes and Suffixes

There is a lot of discussion among the breeding community right now about a suggested rule change proposal that would make it mandatory for people to keep a breeder’s prefix or suffix on a horse’s show name. You could change the name part itself, but not the prefix or suffix. So basically if you had a horse that was named Looney Tunes WTF, you could change the Looney Tunes part, but not the WTF part.

maybe we should have made his suffix WTF

Like most things breeding related, I have a lot of feelings about prefixes and suffixes (this is shocking, I’m sure). I would never take a prefix/suffix off of a horse’s name, just because I know how important it is to breeders to have that easy recognition for their horses. It’s a nod of respect and recognition to where the horse came from, and all the blood, sweat, tears, money, and time that someone put into creating that horse. That’s not to say that there aren’t terrible ones like BRA or MF… I’d be less thrilled about those too, so I understand if someone wants to change a bad one. I still don’t think I personally would do it, but I would understand.

I also find it annoying how a lot of big sale farms just tack their prefix/suffix onto a horse they got in, jack the price up because it’s a (insert whichever one you want here – Fernhill, Cooley, RF, CR, FE, etc), and it becomes more of a “look where I bought this horse from” thing instead of a nod of credit to the person or farm that created the horse in the first place. Pretty brilliant for the seller though, since now everyone knows who sold the horse. I can hate it all I want, but it’s effective.


Even though I am a big fan of breeder prefixes and suffixes, I don’t really support this rule change proposal. I don’t think it should be up to USEF to monitor their useage and application. They got enough problems, man. Not to mention, what do you do about the fact that there are plenty of prefixes and suffixes out there that are used by more than one breeder. Who gets the “rights” to the letter R? What do you do with the ones that already have it? Sticky. Way too sticky.

I do have plenty of respect for the breeders who put into their sale contracts that the buyer can change the name but not the farm prefix/suffix. That seems totally reasonable to me. Granted, if that person sells the horse on, the next person isn’t bound to keep that.

All the new microchip recording stuff with USEF will help a lot of this, I think. Horses will no longer be able to just go *poof* and reappear under a new name with a new age. All of the information is much more likely to follow a horse throughout it’s career, and I think people will be a little less inclined to change the name. If nothing else, hopefully we become a bit more diligent about making sure the breeder information and the pedigree information get recorded with all the other microchip information too, and stay with the horse even if any prefixes or suffixes are dropped or names are changed.


But the most interesting thing that I’ve seen while following along with all these discussions in the last few days was that several people (non-breeders) said that they would not buy a horse with a prefix or suffix if they weren’t allowed to change it. Like even if the horse was otherwise perfect, it would be an absolute dealkiller to have any kind of prefix or suffix on it’s name. That seemed kind of crazy to me, but I guess names are THAT important to some people?

Presto of course is registered as Like Magic WTW – with the Willow Tree Warmblood suffix. Because I’m proud of my friend and her farm and the horses that she produces, and I want Presto to be a bit of a “spokesman” for her program, wherever he goes. He will wear his suffix with pride.

What do y’all think? Hate prefixes and suffixes? Love them? Would they be a deal breaker if you couldn’t change them?

34 thoughts on “Prefixes and Suffixes

    1. Sometimes they do we show our horses with our CS prefix. It really depends on the announcer and even the show secretary we’ve had it where they won’t put it in the program with the prefix and sometimes they do put it in there and then the announcers won’t do it so it kind of goes either way . We either breed are horses but most of the time we’re buying them in untrained condition or in need of a lot of training because of that we put a lot of time and effort into them and we’re very proud of where they started and where they ended up so we do put the Cs prefix on all of the horses however we wouldn’t be against a person changing the name if it matter to them

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  1. I think if it matters to the breeder they should write it into the sale contract. The contract could be written to require it to be in future sales contracts of the horse, though I’m not sure how you could enforce it. This could get complicated too, because it puts the onus on the breeder to keep an eye on it and take legal action.

    I’ve been following the results of the Pennsylvania National Horse Show this week and last via Ryegate.com, and I really like that they include the horses breeding, if known. I think steps like that could be in the right direction – if you want to positively influence breeding, then make it know when a well bred horse is winning.

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  2. I agree with you. I personally would keep the prefix/suffix for the sake of respect for the breeder. A good friend of mine bred warmbloods for a while and I only got a glimpse of the time, money and effort that goes into breeding and producing a baby. She had a stallion named Fidelio JSF (Torino) and as a breeder herself, it would have appeared beneficial for her to change the suffix to make her program look better. But she didn’t out of respect for the breeder.

    But I get it- BRA is tough to let slide.

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  3. Being the backyard wannabe eventer that I am, I have an opinion but not a very thoughful one.

    I’m just not a fan of the prefix/suffix to the point where I think there has to be a rule to keep it. I very much can appreciate why breeders want to have it to showcase their ‘business’ but there are so many Cooleys and Fernhills out there as a fan of the sport I struggle to keep them straight.

    I will say, one of my fav names I saw was Fernhill Whatever. I appreciated the bit of sarcasm.

    But if I came across a Fernhill or Cooley Unicorn in my price range, I would most certainly snap him or her up.

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    1. The overwhelming majority of the Cooleys and Fernhills were not even bred by them, just sold through them and thus had a “tag” slapped on for the sake of advertising. 😉

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    2. “Cooley” or “Fernhill” means only that at one time in its life, the horse was owned by one of those horse dealers. It may have been only for a very short time.

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  4. I don’t know if other disciplines do this, but at the AQHA World Show, they include the breeder’s name along with all of the horse’s info. So for example, on the megatron during awards and even on the results listing. Although, to be fair even that got awkward after Rita Crundwell was arrested…

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    1. Some places do, some places don’t. In this country you mostly only see it at the young horse classes. In Europe it’s pretty much everywhere. I’ve actually heard people say that they don’t want that information shown in judged classes (hunters, dressage, whatever), because they think it could bias the judges. I disagree, I think it’s important to know, but that opinion does exist.

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  5. I’m fine with prefixes and suffixes. What I really hate is the USEF legislating owner’s prerogative to change a horse’s name. That is too much micro-control, and a slipperly slope to other changes. Choosing my horse’s show name is part of my enjoyment of horse sport. I think it would be far better for the USEF to spread the word and encourage people to understand why breeder’s would like the prefix or suffix to change, but leave it up to the owner. If the breeders want to keep any part of a horse’s name, then keep the horse.

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  6. This is one of my biggest pet peeves, therefore I think it is a good idea to be required to keep the prefix/suffix of the breeding farm. Maybe this is because I grew up riding on a Morgan breeding farm, or because my grandfather and great-grandfather bred Standardbreds, or because I have been heavily involved with the retraining of Standardbreds for eventing/dressage after their race careers. I know firsthand that a lot goes into breeding a horse and I think the farm needs to be recognized (HATE the sales barns that just tack their OWN name on the horse…uhhh no, not cool). And it makes me SO irritated when someone changes a Standardbred’s name when they claim they “rescued” the horse from the track and the horse needs a “fresh start”. No, your race horse had an important first career that should NOT be thrown away, and 9/10 times the horse is not being rescued from anything. Unless you pulled the horse off a meat truck, most race owners/trainers gave that horse a very good life. (eye roll) Sorry, this is something that has driven me nuts for years!

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  7. Definitely would not be a deal breaker for me to keep a prefix or suffix. Even if it was bra… though I might add some periods in there B.R.A. just for the announcers 😉
    I agree though, it’s probably not something the USEF should police, especially with the microchips being mandatory. The breeding info should be connected to the microchip though.
    Honestly, besides giving credit to the breeders, I think it’s useful info in general. I had a wonderful hunter as a junior but he had no papers or anything. I would have loved to find a full sibling down the road, but had no way of figuring that info out. (My trainer got him from kind of a shady dealer.)

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  8. We breed a few of our horses but most of the time we’re buying them in untrained condition or in need of a lot of training because of that we put a lot of time and effort into them and we’re very proud of where they started and where they ended up so we do put the Cs prefix on all of the horses however we wouldn’t be against a person changing the name if it mattered to them. It’s a bit of giving them a fresh start so we do it.

    I come from the high level dog show world as well and we use kennel names on all the dogs and there’s a ton of titles to show what the dogs are able to to so the reference points of being able to see that in an animal at a glance is really helpful and again it’s normal there.

    We also show paint horses and the apha rules are that if the horse has no points no offspring that the new owner can change the name so some registries are a lot harder to switch around than it is with USDA or Usef as far as the names go so again I’m more used to that so I can see it going either way. With the dogs though it is a serious faux pas to change the name of a show dog if you were to sell it.

    I think I’ve changed one registered name ever and that was because an 8 year old made it up and while cute, no thanks ><

    As far as standardizing, in dogs, you can register a kennel name but not a prefix necessarily. Just because you have a registered kennel name doesn't mean that someone else won't use that word somewhere in the registered name. If you see that you can report it but I haven't seen it so I don't honestly know how long it would take to pursue. Most of the time when you have a kennel name you have to really follow a set of guidelines that the registry sets for you as well as of course making sure that it's not already in use. For using prefixes and suffixes normally if you do it with a breed that cuts it down somewhat from repetitiveness sometimes people get creative with using punctuation. But of course I can get cluttered but it's not something that's impossible.

    I know this is my one of my few comments on here and they've been pretty long but it is actually a topic that I've dealt with for a really long time and in the dog world I love it because you have that immediate association but with the horse world I know that there's a lot of issues with it and I don't have terribly strong feelings with it but I do like being able to categorize my horses under the same prefix because of what we've done with them. And if someone wanted to change it I'm completely okay with that. And also as a horse owner I did buy a horse from Iron Spring Farm and while I'm not excited that her registered name for my fancy Dutch Friesian is just Jade and ISF because I respect the farm she came from and the experience that I had with that I will show her through whatever levels with that name for the association and to show my respect to the breeder.

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  9. I’m a weird one. I don’t like the abbreviated ones like RF or WTF (because YES I totally read that as what the fuck lol) but I don’t mind the written ones like Fernhill or Cooley. Yes, weird, but I think the written ones make the names smoother. Then again, I’m also the type that likes witty/corny names for horses, so my opinion is probably moot lol.
    I do agree with one other commenter that if it’s important to the breeders for them to add that into the sale contract. I don’t think there should be rule, though, either. I don’t think that should be up to USEF to decide. Just as you said – a very sticky situation. I personally would not change it, unless I got a really bad one like BRA or maybe even WTF lol. I’ve considered changing Amber’s name (Beans Paddy Lena) a time or two but have decided not to. But out of respect for her breeders, even if I did change her name I wouldn’t ever take that title (Beans) out of it.
    It’s also different since there are very few abbreviated names in the QH world. The only two I know are ARC and CC added to those horses names from those breeders. But I’ve seen most other breeders that just incorporate stallion and mare names together so you know who the sire and dam are. Which I find fascinating as a difference between the two disciplines that most warmblood breeders go with a breeder’s title and then name the horse whatever, but in most QHs (and paints as far as I’ve seen) they just incorporate stallion/mare registered names into baby names.

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  10. I have to admit I follow some breeders that have gorgeous horses and then pick the stupidest names. There’s no way I’d want to show under most of those names, but I have no problem keeping the prefix/suffix.

    That said, my preference would be for USEF to not legislate it but to keep better records. As it is now, you can search by past aliases – as you mentioned, with microchipping, it would make it easy to keep the history of a horse all linked vs how it is now with people creating a new registration each time it’s sold. That way when someone looks up its record, the past name with the breeder’s identifying initials is there (plus breeder name is often linked as well). To me, that’s enough, no need to micromanage.

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  11. I’m really surprised that people would consider not buying a horse that had a prefix/suffix that they couldn’t change! That seems so weird to me. I wouldn’t change the prefix/suffix because I know it’s a stamp of where they came from and if I had bred that horse, I wouldn’t want someone else to change it either…

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    1. I second this. Odd you wouldn’t buy a horse based on this. Emi is “Winterlake Emerald.” Winterlake is the farm she was born at. I don’t have a problem with it.

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  12. I use to hate prefix/suffixes on names until I got a Connemara cross. I wanted to change his name until I read that I had to keep the breeder’s prefix and the reason why. After that I loved my guy’s whole name and wouldn’t dream of changing it bc it had history. Now I enjoy finding conemarras and knowing where they came from, or which horse is a conemarra bc of the name. I like words as prefixes better but also understand the simplicity of being able to use letters. Some of the conemarra names can get really long and a few letters would of helped that length out!!

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  13. As a person who doesn’t have a lot of experience with this, I could go either way. I did just buy a yearling mini and will be responsible for his “final” registration once he turns 3. I can also choose a name for him but the breeder told me that I have to include the prefix from their farm, which is WB. I’m kind of divided on that. I understand though, wanting your horses recognized as they go through their life and think that, if I bred horses, I would want the same thing.

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  14. The Fernhill thing KILLS me. They buy those horses at auctions for rock bottom prices, show them a bit tack on the Fernhill and sell them for $$$$$$. These are not the top horses in ireland. My friend actually worked for Carol Gee and she is at shit crazy, abusive to her staff, and her yard is a mess. I would never buy a Fernhill horse. People are so blindsided!

    I can’t believe people would pass because of a prefix. Like really????

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  15. Both of my boys have barn names, but I diligently and accurately report their registered names on all show entries. Speedy’s AHA registered name is G Ima Starr FA (Feather Arabians), and Izzy’s RPSI registered name is Imperioso. I use those names for the exact reasons you said – I always want Speedy’s breeder to get the recognition she deserves (I bought him directly from her). She had a lot do with him being the nice horse that he is. While Izzy’s breeder didn’t add a lot to his name, it is a nod to his sire line. They all begin with I – Inbegriff, Ideal, etc.

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  16. Around here we generally don’t here any wtf or bra or mgs or whatever as part of a name. My horses were:

    Lost My Sock
    A Summerstorms Dream
    Beanie Bop
    Lucky Charm

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  17. One of mine has a prefix in his name, and I will leave it because I try not to change registered names, but good luck figuring out which breeding farm SHF is. There are several horses that show around here with the suffix “MF” and I giggle every time I see it, but I have no clue what farm that is, either. I much prefer the Jockey Club system: tattoo them with their registration number, make a database with all the registered horses’ info. The prefixes and suffixes don’t mean much if you can’t figure out what the initials stand for.

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  18. My pony has the stud name at the beginning of his registered name and I chose to keep it and put through is other registrations with that name. He came from a local stud that is well recognised for breeding fantastic performance ponies not only in our region, but all over the country. I’m very proud to own one of the ponies they bred. I like to look at results and draws and see other ponies from the same stud and what they are all achieving.

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  19. Tardy to the party….and as an endurance rider…on a Paso Fino nonetheless. My first Paso’s registered name has a prefix (he’s an MGA’s, yes, apostrophe and all). While I would need to double check (it’s been over 11 years now) my sales contract, I do believe she stipulated I could change his registered name, but I MUST retain the prefix. Fine. That didn’t bother me when I bought him as a weanling. I understood why she did it.
    And, while his breeder is small, when I’m flipping through and looking at the various competitions our registry provides the recreational riders, I know that I am giving free advertising to his breeder. And when I see another “MGA’s” horse appearing in the lists, it makes me ever so happy to see another of their horses doing well.
    For Paso Finos, many horses can be traced to the farms and breeding programs simply by such things (the LaCE horses, as an example). And for some of them, just by hearing that, you know INSTANTLY what those horses probably excel at without having to go digging through the pedigrees, or to find out if they’re Columbian or Puerto Rican bred.
    Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone would want to police such a thing. I mean, who’s running around at the barn using a horse’s registered name anyway? The only times they’re used is at shows and for “formal” things.
    People get odd about the strangest of things.

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  20. Names aren’t all that important to me. As long as it’s not terrible I’m definitely not one to change a horse’s name. I’m not good at thinking of new ones, so I’d rather just stick with the original.
    It does rub me the wrong way being told I’m not allowed to change a name if it’s my horse, but in most cases I’d be happy to represent the farm where my horse originated since I clearly like the horse if I bought it.

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  21. I have actually been torn about this with my own horse. he has a prefix but his breeders are also not anything to be proud of. horses that dont sell go to aiction, horses are not managed well. Hundreds of horses on property not necessarily in the best conditions. So I want to remove the prefix and add Sir (Sir Gallahad is a champion race horse in his line). His lineage is great but the breeders are questionable. However, I have not changed it yet because I think about how far he has come and how good he is despite where he came from. So do I keep it. If I didn’t question the care of the horses, I would definitely keep the prefix/suffix. But do you keep it in a situation like mine? But it is kinda a part of who he is and where he came from. Ugh!!!!

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  22. If I ever buy a horse with the suffix ‘MF’ I would totally change the show name to ‘Bad Ass’ MF because I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old. That being said, I prefer suffixes to prefixes so the announcer could always drop the suffix if it ended up making a long name even longer or just plain being a mouthful. I’d always want it included any time the name is in print though. Maybe we could just add another field for that on passports/papers/entry forms so you get the best of both worlds?

    I guess I just have a love/hate relationship with prefixes & suffixes because I think they sound awful, but when stuff is in writing I want all the info. Plus, I couldn’t ever come up with a farm name for my mom’s property (farmette?) so my homebred is just plain ole ‘Magnolia’ even though there’s probably a zillion of those.

    Also – on a similar note: at work we go by our ‘units’ which are almost always first, middle, a last initial. I’ve always secretly wished my initials spelled ‘HAM’, because I’m a child and I think it’s hilarious.

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