If I had a horse, today would be the day that I gave it cake. So, happy birthday horses of the world.
I don’t know a great deal about horses, not practical things, never having had anything much to do with them, unless you count reading a lot of horse adventure fiction when I was 9 or 10. Which I don’t. I’m making that sneery ‘you’re kidding me, right?’ face at myself right now.
I think horses rate high on the aesthetics of form chart and I adore the words that are associated with all things equine – fetlock, snaffle, currycomb and withers – as well as all the different words that only get used to descibe horse gaits and horse colours and, of course, different breeds. A whole lexicon in itself.
But, while writing historical fiction, if one wants to get one’s characters from point A to place B then one needs, quite possibly, a horse. And while I think the idea of naming a car is vaguely ridiculous, a horse is a character and needs a name. And a personality. And a description. And a relationship with its person.
And so my main character’s horse went through four name changes because, frankly, I think you can tell a lot about a person from what they choose to name their companion creatures and how they interact with them. Quite early on I had settled on Argus for my main character’s hound, because he is a rangy, spotted dog and, obviously, Greek mythology has both the multi-eyed giant and Odysseus’ faithful Argos.
But that ruled out another mythological or Classical name for the horse.
A virtue name, perhaps? It was 1832, after all. But, no, it’s not really the sort of thing the character would do.
An everyday kind of person name? No, not quite right either.
And then I saw a photo of a beautiful black and white horse, which didn’t really look like a funny little seabird, but something about the white blaze and white chest reminded me of a puffin. And so Puffin got her name.
Which was fortuitous, because it provided an unforced, lightly jocular piece of dialogue when some of the characters were getting to know each other. And even though she’s not real, still I wrote her so she is kind of my horse, so happy birthday Puffin!
Any suggestions on great horse names very welcome…