Eighteen letters – this is the number that Polish breeders must work with in order to give their graduates a unique name. The situation became complicated in the 50s due to the rule that foal names must begin with the same letter as the first one of their dam’s name. Probably no one expected at the time that more than 600 foals will be born in Poland in the 21st century, and all of them must somehow be named!
But let’s go slightly back in time. Polish breeding in the 19th century did not have a uniform system of naming horses and various studs had their own solutions resolving this matter. Horses at studs which belonged to the Biała Cerkiew estates (owned by the Branicki magnate family) usually received names beginning with the same letter as their sire’s name. In turn the names of horses from Jarczowce Stud (owned by the Dzieduszycki family) were often repeated generation after generation, hence the multitude of certain names, for example Mlecha. A more clear system of naming horses could be found in foreign studs, where offspring received names beginning with the same letter as the their dam’s name, for instance at Crabbet Park. Whereas at the Hungarian stud of Babolna sons received the name of their sire followed by a subsequent Roman numeral, while daughters had Arabic numerals added in front of their names.
From A to Z
After World War I the largest Polish breedings took on a naming system which consisted in subsequent foal crops receiving names beginning with the same letter of the alphabet. This “countdown” begun in Janów Podlaski in 1919, when foals received names starting with the letter “A”. The letter “Z”, which ended the cycle (the Polish letter “Ł” and the international “U” were omitted) was used in 1939. During 1940-46 Janów-bred horses received names from “A” to “G”, respectively. Unfortunately in the post-war disorder the naming system also turned into chaos. The alphabetic system was again introduced in 1947, starting the cycle from the letter “A”. However several years later breeders gave up this rule. Beginning from 1950 in Albigowa Stud, from 1951 in Nowy Dwór Stud and from 1952 in Klemensów-Michalów Stud, foals were named in accordance with the first letter of the dam’s name. This system, apart from incidental exceptions to the rule, is in effect until this day.
E & P
The Polish alphabet consists of 32 letters. After discarding those with diacritic marks (the Polish “ą”, “ć” or “ł”), breeders are left with 23. State breeding uses 18 letters, out of which more than 30% carry names beginning with “E”. The domination of this letter is mainly the result of a breeding career of two valuable mares from the line of Milordka born in 1951 in Klemensów- Michałów Stud. They were Ela (Miecznik – Lala/Amurath Sahib) and the chestnut Estokada (Amurath Sahib – Saga/Hardy). The latter’s great-great granddaughter, the epochal mare Emigracja (Palas – Emisja/Carycyn), established a remarkable family of her own in the 80s. Her two most valuable daughters, both sired by Eukaliptus, Emigrantka and Emanacja, prolonged the family of champions, thanks to which the streak of successes of Michałów-bred Arabians is on a continuous roll. The stud can boast the titles of World Champions for Emmona, Emanda, her daughter Emandoria and Ekstern. Mares with “E” names can also be found representing the lines of Wołoszka, Sahara d.b. and Cherife d.b.
The second letter, which dominates in the nomenclature of Polish Arabians is “P” (more than 15%) due to the line of Szamrajówka, which (in post-war times) descends from the mare Piewica (Priboj – Włodarka/Ofir), imported in 1956 from Tersk. Her daughters, Pentoda, Penza and Pierzga, produced both superb stallions and remarkable broodmares. The latter foaled the dreamlike Pilarka, called “the most admired Polish mare”, which ruled the show arenas of the 80s – twice European Champion and World Champion of 1981. Twenty two years later her granddaughter is born, the bay Pianissima, which begins a march, or rather a reckless run to the top, conquering the show arenas of Europe, America and the Middle East. This twice “Triple-Crowned” World Champion and the freshly crowned Dubai International Champion is the highest decorated Arabian horse in the history of Polish breeding, whose name is known to every enthusiast of the breed in the world.
R & V
To no avail would one look for horses in Poland whose names begin with the letters „I”, „J”, „R”, „U” or „Y”. They can be found in extremely rare cases, mainly due to breeders who imported particular mares from abroad. One of the few people who can annually create names with the unusual in Polish breeding letter “R” is Alicja Marta Napióra, owner of Silvatica Black Arabians, who in 2004 imported the black mare Ravenwood Nejma (Ravenwood Sihr – Ravenwood Masha/RG Al Mone) from the US. “It is always a quick decision”, says the owner. “When I see a foal, I try to imagine what name would suit him. The first born foal, due to his raven-black coat color, received the name Raven. The next foal looked like he was up to mischief, so I named him Rascal. The only so far born filly was extremely sweet and feminine, hence the idea of the proud name Ramira Rose. Often, due to my profession as a pharmacist, I use medicine names, an example of which is Ramico Marc – a combination of the Ramicor drug with emphasizing the sire, QR Marc”.
While being at the letter „Q” we should notice that similarly to „V” and „X” it is not part of the Polish alphabet. For that reason there are almost no horses in our breeding with names beginning with those letters, apart from a few exceptions. One of them is the chestnut Vahta (Aspect – Viktoria/Kumir). The mare found her way to Agricola Farm together with a group of ten horses from Tersk, who came to Poland for the 2001 racing season. “After the termination of the contract with the Russians I was able to buy her”, recalls the owner of the stud, Hanna Sztuka. “The mare was a direct carrier of the legendary Janów-bred Mammona, a mare with extreme merits in world breeding. Bred to Eldon she produced the colt Valczyk in 2002 (successfully participating in endurance races in Italy) and in 2004 together with the stallion Werter she foaled Autumn Show Senior Champion Mare in Janów Podlaski, the chestnut Valeriana”. This year the family has significantly grown – Vahta produced the bay filly Vena by Admin (in the breeding of Krzysztof Czarnota) and Valeriana – the bay filly Via Appia by Elistan.
Where is the logical meaning
An outstanding horse must possess an equally outstanding name. It is quite a challenge not only because of the domination of two of the letters, which agglomerate almost half of the crop, but also due to the rules and regulations of the Polish Arabian Stud Book, which forbids the repeating of a name in the case of a mare no sooner than 10 years since the last year she produced a foal or 25 years since her birth. In the case of stallions the rules are even more restrictive: the name cannot be used sooner than 15 years since the last year of utilizing the stallion or 35 years since his birth.
For this reason many equine names today are a sequence of graphic characters with no logical meaning. Often they are monotonous names, differing very little from each other. For example the mare Perfirka foaled the filly Perfinka – the letter “r” was exchanged for an “n”. In turn the mare Elara produced the colt Elar, who got his name by removing one letter from his dam. The doubling of letters is also a very common feature, which results in comical names, such as Emmaraama.
Looking for the inspiration
Where in that case should one draw inspiration from? The State Studs have introduced several interesting and pleasant-sounding prefixes. We have therefore managed to rear such sublines as: Wieża (Tower of), Pustynna (Desert), Dębowa (Oaken) or Złota (Golden). However we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be mislead, because Złota Orda, her daughter Złota Nić and granddaughter Złota Orfa descend from Zagrobla, but Złota Księga and Złota Gaza, whose produce also annually receive the prefix “Golden” originate from the mare Zatoka. What both have in common is a mutual granddam, Zazula and the damline of Selma d.b., but over several generations these mares have established their own, characteristic families, which significantly differ from each other.
As Urszula Białbok from Michałów Stud admits, the job of naming foals is all hers. “When I read or hear something, I always write it down. That’s why I buy various encyclopedias – she told polskiearaby.pl in an interview. „I sometimes create names by myself. There are too many horses so I don’t focus the same way on every name. However, when there is a foal that I really like, I try to find the most beautiful name for it. Sometimes names just come to my mind. I came up with Wieża Babel (The Tower of Babel) because the mare has such a mixed pedigree, there are so many horses from the whole wide world, that it seems the Tower of Babel! However, it is really difficult to keep going and to add something to this ‘Tower’”.
Who would rather travel can follow the breeding career of the mare Palestyna (Palestine, a region in Asia), who first foaled the filly Pampeluna (Pamplona, a town in northern Spain) and then through her next foal, the colt Palermo (a city and province in Italy) “found” her way to the shoe-shaped country, where one could visit the Roman Panteon (Pantheon) – another son of Palestyna…
Private breeders are also looking for original ideas in naming their horses. At Chrcynno-Palace Stud the inspiration is mythology. “Because the number of mythical names is limited, at one point we had to use a fixed first name for a given subline: Psyche, Echo, Chaos, Gaja”, explains breeder Alicja Poszepczyńska. Thanks to such a naming system horses with these prefixes are immediately associated with this stud. Today we can observe already a third generation of the titled “Psyches” on the show arenas, which recently accrued another medalist – Junior Spring Show Reserve Champion Stallion, gained by the beautiful Khidar son, Psyche Keret.
A large number of breeders intertwine part of the sire’s names into the name of the get – breeders from Zalia Arabians point out that many nice names are already registered. “By adding a second element we are able to register a horse into the Stud Book with a name that we like”, says Katarzyna Dolińska-Witkowska. “Compound names sound nice and give many countless possibilities. This year four of our foals received “Eternity” as the second element, which will
emphasize their origin. One of this year’s fillies is named Camira of Justice – it is not hard to guess who the sire is. Such actions magnify the pedigree and are a simple, yet effective form of promotion”.
A novelty (although long time popular for instance in the US) is the adding of the breeder’s initials to the horse’s name. The Polish Arabian Stud Book does not allow to place initials before the name, only after it. And so it is immediately clear that a filly named Parysada PS must come from the breeding of Przemysław Sawicki.
A name accompanies a horse through his entire life and in some way defines his identity. It helps to stand out from a crowd of animals born every year. Each year Arabian horse enthusiasts from all over the world get to know and remember for long several inimitable names carried by outstanding Polish horses.