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What's In A Name? An Editorial by Bob Funkhouser



Remember the good ole days? My My, Wing Commander, Lover's Sensation, Glenview's Mandala. Yes, the days when names were just that. Many times names held a special meaning to the breeder/owner or they indicated a particular bloodline or mix of families. Today, more often than not, we'd be better off using a horse's registration number instead of his or her "name." The numbers would be much easier to remember.

With today's popular practice of adding multiple title designations, as well as breeder's initials, it's hard to find and/or recognize the actual name. That practice has opened up a couple of different questions and concerns.

The first concern is personal to me. Just where am I going to fit all of this on the ad? Others include, "Just how long is a horse a RWC?"

The use of WC, WGC, etc., started with sales catalogues. "This mare is the dam of WC Smokey, WC Joe, and RWC Bess." That was a most appropriate usage of the initials. Then those initials started creeping over to the publications on the horses' ads. Now these initials are even being used as part of the horses' names with horse show entries. Increasingly we are seeing RWC Bob in horse show programs and in horse show results. And of course there is the ever increasing number of horses earning their champion status from the ASHA, so now CH has also become a part of the name for those who have qualified with the appropriate number of points based on show ring placings.

The use of CH is fitting. It designates consistent championship level performances over a period of time. On the other hand, the use of WC has become deceptive if you will. A horse that won a Louisville title six years ago is still listed and advertised as WC Wildcat. Allow me to use an illustration from another sporting venue. When the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl in January of 2002, they were then referred to as the World Champion New England Patriots. Right up until January of 2003 they were the World Champion New England Patriots, even though they didn't even make the playoffs. Then, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were crowned the World Champions in 2003, New England was no longer referred to as the World Champion New England Patriots.

It makes sense that the same would apply to champions in the equine show world. If people must use the initials, shouldn't they just be used by the current world title holders? Nothing will ever take a world title away and it doesn't lose its significance, but to make the title a permanent fixture to the name just doesn't seem right.

In fact, there would be nothing wrong with using the initials on a former champion if the text referred to a collective group, i.e. "Supreme Heir is the sire of WGC One For the Road, WGC Utopian Melody," and so on. "Tom Moore showed WGC Bellissima, WGC Home Town Hero, WGC Spring High, WGC Captive Spirit and WGC Yorktown." In those instances it would be proper to use the initials.

The use of WGC is entirely another issue. Many from the old school believe there are only three World's Grand Champions, and they are the Open Three-Gaited, Five-Gaited, and Fine Harness winners. While I'm hopefully not considered old school yet, I have as much or more respect for the past and the traditions of the American Saddlebred as anyone. However, in this case I have to strongly disagree. Yes, it's true they were the three World's Grand Champions, but that's because for many years those were the only championships. In the early days there wasn't a juvenile championship, a ladies championship, or a junior horse championship. As recently as 1966 there was only one junior exhibitor five-gaited class. The World's Championship Horse Show will be 100 years old this year and it has grown and evolved. Now there are championships at every level (and that's an argument for another day). If a horse wins a class that is designated a championship (except for the County Fair Championships) at the World's Championship Horse Show, then it should be a World's Grand Champion.

With no disrespect, the way the American Saddlebred Horse Association has chosen to deal with the title issue is impractical. They only recognize the Open Three-Gaited, Five-Gaited, and Fine Harness winners as the World's Grand Champions. All others winning championships are referred to as World's Champion Champions - i.e. World's Champion Champion Junior Five-Gaited.

Anyway, may all your rides and drives be championships, but just not on your horse's and pony's names.....

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