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June 25, 2013

Naming Your Human

Photo by Lindsay Berreth.

With the arrival of spring comes the return of show season to my part of the country, and while I haven’t taken my Human to a show just yet, I have a feeling that this will be our year.

Sidenote: You may be wondering why I have hesitated to make my eventing debut with my current pupil. Quite frankly, I have considered showing her in previous years and just haven’t felt she was ready. Her atrocious distractibility, lack of emotional fortitude, and insipid insistence on eating and whining instead of working out convinced me that she wasn’t ready for the pressures of competition until last summer. Unfortunately, her appalling travel accommodations for me required an impromptu trailer lesson (for her) that resulted in us missing our ride time. (And her $250 in show fees. That’ll teach her.)

This year though, I remain hopeful that between me, her biped instructor, and some duct tape, we can keep her together long enough for me to dazzle the world with my brilliance without her falling off or throwing up.

One of many considerations at this point is what I think her show name should be. My Human seems to be under the mistaken impression that she should provide me with a poetic, super-cutesy Long Name for our competitions, but as I’m sure my hooved readers will agree, it’s the Humans who deserve a rewrite.

Fair Is Fair

I’ve talked to many fellow Human trainers (mostly ponies) who are dismayed with the show names they are forced to drag around with them on their registration papers (one of the many perils of not getting an iPad for your stall), and their feeling is that the salaciousness of a Human’s show name should be in direct proportion to the name the Human wrote on the entry form.

Some might call this revenge. I say all is fair in fields and horse shows.

It’s also important to find parity in the aspect of your show name that is most offensive to you. For example, a pony named Ice Cream or Sprinkles might prefer his Human be called Hambone or Lardcake.

A warmblood whose name is in some amalgamation of improperly-punctuated romance languages should consider naming their Human something in Esperanto or Pig Latin.

Horses who have an abbreviation prefix or affix to their name designating their farm of origin should consider adding the acronym for their Human’s place of birth to their papers. “MGH (Manhattan General Hospital) Joyce Smith” has a great ring to it, eh?

Of course, any self-respecting quadruped who has been given a one-word adjective or noun as their name (what is with that, anyway, do they think it makes them sound profound?) has the rights to do the same to their Human.

“Ladies and gentlemen, on course is Misfortune riding Serendipity. You try working out which is which.”

Write What You Know

I’m fond of drawing inspiration for Human show names from their actual personalities, although this can go a bit south if you’re not careful. My name was originally given to me because the Humans around me mistakenly believed that I was easily frightened, when in reality their mental fogginess prevented them from picking up on my instructions. Something they thought was cute ended up sounding kind of insulting, so you have to consider your audience when naming your Human.

Draw upon your Human’s strengths, if she has any. Is she really good at holding the outside rein steady (but forgets to flex the inside)? Try One-Trick Annie or Singularly Focused.

Does she go light on the grain (but heavy on the forages)? Self-Important Dietician, Got Hay? or just Distracted are good options.

Remember, when it comes to entry forms, write what you know.

Get Creative

Don’t be afraid to have fun with your biped’s show name. Try surprising her with unexpected insight into her life and interests outside the arena. Facebook makes information gathering like this easy if you start feeling lost.

This is also an excellent chance to use humor to drop a few hints about her training progress. Several of the options I’m considering for my Human based on her Facebook page are Too Much Top 40, Holy Comma Splices and Pinterest Stockholder.

Whatever strategy you end up using to name your Human, you can count your creation as successful if it gets a confused phone call from the show office or a snicker from the announcer.

Happy Human showing!

Jitterbug is a Michigan-bred Professional Draft Cross who skillfully avoided saddles until age 5. Since then, she has been lauded for her talent in successfully managing humans while training herself to one day achieve eventing greatness. Jitter and her human live in central Kentucky.
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Photo by Dark Horse Photography.