Skip to content

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.....

More Stories

  • Tuesday Evening Summary

    We thought Monday night was stellar, and it was, but tonight’s session might have stepped it up to even another level. For those who preach doom and gloom for the American Saddlebred and Hackney you certainly couldn’t tell it here, in the house where legends are made. Read More
  • Wednesday Matinee

    This morning’s session featured several classes for young riders and drivers as well as young horses. Khloe Jankowicz led the parade of young riders, winning the 8 & Under Walk and Trot Equitation class for mom Jamie Jankowicz and her Legacy Stables. The second trainer’s daughter to win a world’s title this morning, Lyla Grace Wroble was the 9-year-old world’s champion for her Country Meadow family.  Read More
  • REPORT Leaderboard

    Saddle Horse Report is pleased to bring you the REPORT Leaderboard from the World's Championship Horse Show through the end of classes on Tuesday, August 22. Read More
  • Monday Night Action

    Welcome to prime time! That’s exactly what the Monday evening session was. The big shooters came out in droves as the lineup of classes offered was spectacular.  Read More
  • X-Tremely Enthusiastic

    Ryan Barlowe (l) and Jason Harrell with X-Tremely Grand, the pony they co-own. Barlowe showed the pony Monday evening at Louisville and was top three in the Amateur Gentleman’s Hackney Pony class. Read More
  • Tuesday Matinee High Points

    Classes were extremely well filled on Tuesday morning with several being split. It also turned out to be a record-breaking morning of dual wins for several exhibitors and one horse. Read More
  • REPORT Leaderboard

    Saddle Horse Report is pleased to expand our Leaderboard standings to include Leading Amateurs, Junior Exhibitors, Owners, Professional Exhibitors, Hackney Trainers and Exhibitors in addition to the Leading Trainers and Leading Sires from the World's Championship Horse Show through the end of classes on Monday, August 19. Stay tuned for the latest developments. Read More
  • Sunday Night Excitement

    With the Junior Exhibitor Park class being split, 14 events were held on the Sunday evening session, which started at 6:30 p.m. with the ASR Sweepstakes Four-Year-Old Fine Harness class. That class gave the general spectators their thrill for the night as Debbie Foley lost a wheel on her buggy and the horse got loose momentarily. Everything ended okay but she could not get everything back together in the allotted time.  Read More
  • Interview at Country Meadow

    In the interview that follows, trainer Julie Ann Wroble and Lauren Beck share their thoughts following Lauren's win aboard I'm A Holiday at the World's Championship Horse Show on Sunday evening. Read More
  • Monday Matinee Highlights

    The first 9:00 a.m. session of the week kicked off Monday's competition with a couple younger age group equitation classes and a slew of pleasure classes for both the American Saddlebreds and Hackneys. Read More