Behind the Slide – Naming Winners with Steve Ross

We’re not just raising winners, we’re naming winners. 

When running at any major National Reining Horse Association event, a horse that makes the finals is bound to have their name announced a few dozen times. At events such as the NRHA Futurity and Adequan® North American Affiliate Championships or the 6666 NRHA Derby presented by Markel, they’ll even be discussed at the pinnacle of equine sports news- the NRHA Sports Desk presented by Teton Ridge. 

Here’s how to make sure your horse stands out. 

“Think about Colonels Smoking Gun,” said Steve Ross, anchor of the NRHA Sports Desk presented by Teton Ridge. “For a lot of people, that doesn’t bring an image to mind, but when you say ‘Gunner,’ everyone knows right away that you’re talking about a fourteen million dollar sire. It makes them a brand.” 

Ross has a simple list of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts ’ when it comes to names to ensure that your future champion can stand out. 

The list of things to do includes emulating racehorses, citing names like War Admiral, Secretariat, and Zenyatta as examples, and thinking like a brand is being created. 

“You want your horse to be an icon,” said Ross. “A bold name just makes people interested in figuring out more.” 

Ross’ advice can be boiled down to one simple principle– don’t confuse the announcer. Things like adding letters for the ranch, three to four-word names, or lack of spacing in the words make a name that much easier to read off incorrectly when the anchor or announcer has less than a second to glance down and get a name. 

“If you want to guarantee mispronunciation, then run all the letters together and add some extras,” said Ross. “That’s difficult to read in a split-second and even harder to know if you got it right or not.” 

Ross adds that while there was a time when it was important to put as much information as possible in a horse’s name, that’s just not the case anymore, stating that, “Everyone has a phone now, and we have infinite access to information. A name that sticks in your head lets you take it to Google and find out everything else you need.”