S/he who has mastery of language has a tremendous advantage over those for whom language is difficult. Language is power, and don’t you dare think otherwise. Every day we either raise ourselves or condemn ourselves by the language we use: how many times have you heard yourself saying, “I can’t,” or “I’m just–“? Do you realize the impact of those phrases?
If you believe that you can’t do something, or that you’re “just” something–then you are right. You can’t do anything that your heart believes is impossible. And if you believe in your heart that you’re “just” (“Just a woman,” “Just a small-time trainer”)–then that is precisely what you are, the smallest of your species.
But if you can look yourself in the mirror and state that you can do something that may seem to be impossible or even ridiculous to your detractors–you have power. And you may not achieve that huge thing–but the result will be a lot closer to the goal than if you started out thinking that you shouldn’t even try.
There’s no shame in not making the goal: there is shame in not even trying…
If you believe that you’re just a small-time trainer, who’ll never win the Kentucky Derby–then congratulations, you have already achieved your goal of not winning the Kentucky Derby. If your thinking is adjusted by the language that you use, so that you believe that you have the right to try and that you may get a Big Horse who’s Derby-worthy–you still may not make it to the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs.
But you might come in second. Or you may win a major Derby prep. And there’s no shame in either of those accomplishments–in fact, your resume is fattened by coming in second in the Kentucky Derby, or winning a Derby prep. But your resume remains a flatliner as long as you don’t believe, and don’t try.
Language is Destiny, and Language has Power. You can soar among the clouds with eagles, simply by altering the language you use to describe yourself and your life goals. Or you can remain down here on Earth, pecking like a chicken in the dust, because your negative thoughts manifested themselves in the language you utilized, and, in true circular motion–that language of lowness fed the negativity in your soul.
The same applies to your horse. You may own a Thoroughbred or Arabian, who’s in training to race. You might have a lovely Quarter Horse whom you ride for fun, your best friend. Or a Morgan, Paint, Fresian–whichever breed of horse makes your spirit take flight.
If you own a horse, or about to own a horse–you are blessed. Many of us exist out here who want to own a horse, or horses, but for whatever reason, the timing/finances/geography isn’t right just yet.
Your horse may come with a name, and you choose to give her/him a name that suits better, or which expresses your feelings about your new relationship. Or you may have a yearling who needs a name for registration purposes, for which you may dig into pedigree as a reference.
Whatever you do, I beseech you–for the love of all that’s Good and Holy–whatever you do, please, please, please do not give your horse a goofy name.
If you love horses–if you truly love horses–then you know that they are sentient beings. They know their names. They know when it’s dinnertime. They come when they’re called. (Usually.) And you know that humans are also sentient beings. If you wouldn’t give your kid (human, not goat) a stupid name–why would you saddle your beloved horse with a name that clearly indicates that you’re making fun of him?
Caballo Press of Ann Arbor recently released, “Horsenameographies: Life Stories in a Race Horse Name.” The publishers knew that everyone has a story to tell, and that names speak volumes. So they posed the question, “If you were a race horse–what would your name be?”
Humans had the opportunity to choose our race horse names. A very cool gift to give a human soul, the opportunity to rename one’s self. Horses don’t get the same privilege, so we who own the horse have the moral obligation to give our horses names that not only befit them–but that will help propel them over the finish line with power, dignity and grace.
A bit of linguistics here: soft consonants generally don’t pack as much power as hard consonants. Vowels, of course, are soft. A soft consonant will work if the name in total implies majesty and strength. Think of names like “Man O’War,” “Ruffian,” “Alydar,” “Affirmed.” Soft consonants and vowels, but implied authority.
Names that begin with hard consonants have a psychological advantage, in that it’s already assumed that the name is connected to prowess: “Secretariat.” “Seattle Slew.” “Citation.” “Thunder Gulch.”
I used to be part-owner of a horse. A beautiful granddaughter of Seattle Slew. Her original racing name was, well, ugly. I hated her name. She was beautiful, dark–the spit-and-image of her storied Grandfather. I detested the name so much that I won’t tell you what the partners allowed members to name her.
But I saw one of her other part-owners last summer at Saratoga–who also disliked her name–and she told me that the person who bought her actually legally changed her name with the Jockey Club. And that he had given her the most ridiculous race horse name in the world. Our beloved Seattle Slew Granddaughter is now known as I B A Babydoll. When JoAnn told me she looked nauseated. When I heard it–and then looked her up online–I nearly lost my lunch.
The thought that our majestic, beautiful, slew-footed baby who grew like a weed and had so much potential–is now practically a circus horse, given a name that condemns her forever. She’ll never, ever win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. (I refuse to call it the “Ladies’ Classic,” because–the language thing, again–that name sounds like a razor. Or a bikini wax. And, uh, it’s impossible for a horse to be a “lady”–so who’s racing there? Human women wearing squared-off fingernails and Jimmy Choos? Or big, strong, strapping, rippling-with-muscles female Thoroughbreds? “Ladies’ Classic” makes no sense, whatsoever–and, in fact, is in that category of Goofy Names for Stuff. Language. Is. Destiny.)
I digressed. I B A Babydoll is doomed, because she has a silly name. Even goofier than her original moniker. If she ever had any chance of being a Champion, it’s shot, because humans think they’re being cute or funny, when in reality they’re being horribly disrespectful of these horses whom they claim to love so much.
I knew a woman 30 years ago who named her baby, “Pencil.” I never found out what happened to that baby, but I won’t be surprised when I see on the news that he’s become a serial killer. What will the anchors on NBC call him? “The Graphite Killer” perhaps? Names, like language, state for the world which traits our parents–or owners–hope we will bring into the Paddock of Life. A human entering the race named, “Pencil” was doomed from the start to a life of mockery. His parents thought that “Pencil” was funny, perhaps, or maybe his Father was an accountant. But it was just plain wrong to name a small, innocent child to a Life of condemnation that surely began in the sandbox. And it may be that no one else has ever taken that child–now an adult in therapy, I’m sure–seriously.
By the same token, a horse named “I’m a Joke,” “Idiot’s Delight” or “Frank’s Mistake” may not go out and buy a machete, and proceed to hack up the backstretch in a fit of formerly-repressed rage. It’s that “no thumbs” thing again. But a horse who’s the object of ridicule by his own owner–the one person on the planet who’s supposed to believe that all things are possible–knows that it is not treasured. Not valued highly. A whim. Not a member of the team–always just the mascot.
You can give your horse a name that bespeaks beauty, strength, prowess, grace–any number of positive adjectives and attributes can be identified by the name you give your horse. Your horse needs not be a racer, he may be just your best friend, hanging’ in the backyard.
But if he is your best friend–the first thing you can do to honour that relationship with the being who will always love you, always accept you right where you are–is give that horse a name that shows her, right out of the gate, that you sit back in awe. You are fully aware that this creature, this otherworldly, superior being who has stepped out of Heaven long enough to cover your Life with grace–this is a being worthy not only of your love, but of a name that tells the world that s/he deserves–no, demands–respect and honour.
Carry on, Troops. Respect yourself. Respect your path. Love and respect your horse–and allow the language you use to describe your own Life, and the horse you love so dearly, to show the world–that a universe of potential resides within that body, for the body is that which carries the dynamic Spirit of the Horse.
And besides–if I hear that you’ve named your horse, “I’m with Stupid,” I’ll beat you senseless, myself. I’m short, but I pack a wallop. Hell hath no fury like a chestnut Alpha Mare.