This website is the one I've been searching for, for years; a compilation of knowledge on all things horsemanship, including practical advice on how to start an equestrian business.
No matter your experience level with horses or homesteading, I hope this is a place you can get lost in, and learn something along the way - we welcome everyone from vets, to lifelong ranchers, trainer, to nonprofits contributing.
Naming a horse farm, for me at least, was one of the trickiest steps in starting up a homesteading-related business! If you’re struggling with how to name your horse farm and wondering how the most elite horse farms in the world find names with lasting prestige, this article is for you!
How do prestigious horse farm owners choose names that aren’t just memorable, but names they’re able to keep. Names they pass on from generation to generation? Of course, this doesn’t just apply to horse farms, but farmettes, homesteads, and ranches of all sizes.
There is a three-part answer to this question. Today, we’re answering this question and the questions you may not have even known to ask. Because not only do want to choose a name for your horse farm that won’t be stolen from you…you want to find one that won’t land you in court!
In this article we’ll cover:
Before we dive in, let me just say that I wrote this article for one of my own clients who owns a premier horse training facility. In other words, you’re seeing the exact tips I share with my own clients. But, this applies to more than just horse farm owners.
These tips apply to any type of agricultural business, including:
For each tip, you’ll see both the background and legal analysis that I gave my own equestrian client. So you won’t just see what I recommended, but why.
When naming a horse farm, the first thing I want you to think about is how to make the name distinctive, and not generic. By “distinctive,” I mean I want you to think about not only how the name itself is different from other horse farms, but also, how it truly carves out an identity for you.
Why? One of the biggest mistakes I see equestrian facilities make is choosing a name that is too similar to another horse farm’s name, or one that is simply too generic. Why is this a mistake?
For starters, if you choose a name that’s too similar to another name, the business using the original name could send you a cease and desist letter and force you to change your name. What’s worse, they could actually start a legal action against you, claiming that you’re infringing on their brand, which would be very expensive. We’ll talk about this more below.
When horse farm owners or business owners of any sort choose a name that is too generic or is just descriptive of what they’re offering, they are not able to own the name later on. For example, if you have an equestrian training facility and just call it “the Riding Academy”, that name is too generic and descriptive. It literally describes what you’re offering.
On top of this, because that name would be too generic and descriptive to own, if a competitor did think it was too similar to their name, they could still give you trouble (legally).
How? First, choose a name that isn’t generic or descriptive!
For example, for your horse farm, don’t just name it “The Tulsa Horse Farm”, or “The Tulsa Riding Academy”. The first would be generic (any horse farm could call itself that), the second descriptive (again, it literally describes what you’re offering).
Instead, choose a name that’s unique, and a landmark for your specific business!
And trust me, I understand that this can be one of the hardest steps for starting a horseback riding business (or at least, for me it was).
Here are some tips to start brainstorming:
This is the #1 takeaway I want you to get from this article: before you choose a business name, you need to run a legal due diligence search.
I’ve mentioned it a bit above, but the most common mistake I see with horse farms, homesteads turned businesses, and any business, really, is overlooking this critical step.
If you choose a name that has what’s called a “likelihood of confusion” with another name, the owner of that name can cause you some terrible legal headaches. They can send you a cease and desist letter, but they can also take it one step further, and sue you for infringement if your name is “too similar” to theirs.
You do not have to have the exact same name as them to find yourself in trouble. “Likelihood of confusion” can mean your name is somewhat similar to theirs, or even just phonetically similar.
So, to put it bluntly, naming a horse farm, investing in branding, a website, or even just a sign on the property, without running a due diligence search is not just the same thing as throwing money down the drain, it’s also basically inviting liability to your doorstep.
You don’t want that.
Here’s what the most prestigious horse farms in the nation do- and when you want success, the wise course of action is to follow in the footsteps of success stories, right?
Large companies, or “prestigious” horse training facilities (think, horse farms with a nearly unlimited budget) will start with dozens of potential names- any of which they’d be open to using, but none that they are “married to” quite yet. Then, they’ll conduct what’s called a “knockout search”. In other words, a relatively quick google search to flag any obvious potential problems with the name. A knockout search is something I tell my own clients they can do on their own.
A knockout search should include:
Once the horse farm client has performed the knockout search, they’ve usually been able to narrow down the list of potential names from dozens to just a few.
After performing the knockout search, it’s time to narrow it down to the best name. This is the wisest step in choosing a name for your horse farm.
The most elite horse farms and larger companies will take that handful of names from their knockout search, and run a full trademark search, or a “legal due diligence search”. This is a search on a federal, state, and common law level, and needs to be thorough. Only if the name clears this final, comprehensive due diligence search can the company move forward with using that name.
Here’s the deal horse farm owners, homesteaders, and farmette owners:
There’s absolutely no reason not to treat your business in the same way that large companies operate. There’s no additional cost- in fact, it’s the opposite. It will save you money in the long run.
The fastest path to success is treating your horse farm as if it were a premier horse farm in the country. There’s no reason why you need to act differently than Claiborne Farms.
The fastest and most cost-efficient way to run this full due diligence search is to bring in a trademark attorney who’s familiar with your industry. The earlier you’re able to bring in a professional who has experience helping businesses choose well-researched names, the better. This takes the guesswork out of it so you aren’t investing time and money on a name that will cost you down the line.
I get this question quite often. If you already have a name for your horse farm or homestead business, it’s absolutely fine! Even if you’ve had your farms for years, you should still be performing this base-level search and trying to own the name.
The third and final step in naming your horse farm is locking it up. Here’s the deal: if you haven’t trademarked your business name, you don’t own it. You’re just operating on a prayer that no one else decides to use the same name.
Here’s the simple reason: you could have had the name for your homestead or your horse farm for years, and you may have never heard of another name similar to yours. But, someone a few counties away could decide to open up a horse training facility with a similar name. Or, say you have a blog, and someone across the country starts a blog in the same general homesteading realm.
Below you will find some real life examples of how these scenarios turn out. Spoiler alert: it’s not always pretty…
In the United States, the trademarking system is what we call a “race to the courthouse.” This means that somebody could either see your farm’s name, and think to themselves, “oh, that’s clever!” (after all, we can all admit naming a farm is hard). Or, someone could come up with one on their own, and it could just so happen to sound a little too similar to your name.
If they file for the trademark first, you may have no idea. If they’re able to get the trademark, they will own the name, and they will have a responsibility to make sure they protect the autonomy of their trademark.
Like what happened with one of my clients, they can get the name trademarked and send you a cease and desist letter the next day. Even if you don’t mind re-naming your horse farm, it’s not going to be cheap. You probably chose your name for a reason, though, so you’re naturally going to want to hold on to it, if you can.
And I can tell you, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend money on having to hire a lawyer to respond to the cease and desist letters, or worse, protect you from a brand infringement lawsuit.
In the case of my client, she was unfortunately dealing with a very unethical company who was intentionally trying to shut down her online business. They threatened lawsuits over everything from her Instagram account to her blog.
Now to be clear, this is moreso the exception than the rule. But, what’s important to take away from this: someone who owns a trademark is required to protect it. So, even if they don’t have any bad intentions, they can still create a tricky (and expensive) situation for you when you have to rename your business.
If you’re panicked about losing rights to your name or even facing a lawsuit after reading this, don’t worry. Here’s what you need to do…
First, you need to reach out to a trademark attorney. They will determine if you can trademark the name of your horse farm or equine-related business.
Again, only until you have a trademark will you own your name. Then, you will be able to protect yourself from the scenarios I’ve listed above.
And the good news is? Trademarking, when done right and done early, can be affordable to businesses of any size.
To recap everything we’ve covered today, let’s use my story as an example.
You need to run a due-diligence search, if you have any business name that is not your personal name. If the search comes back clean (meaning that there are no other names coming back similar to yours in Google, Facebook, or other social media searches) you need to consider trademarking your name so that no one else can have rights to that same name. If you don’t own a federal trademark to your horse farm’s name, run a due diligence search. That way you can make sure that you aren’t setting yourself up for an accidental lawsuit.
When I was in the process of naming Fairway Stables™ I quickly realized that no article I found on Google was going to give me the “perfect” business name. But, I found that reading other people’s processes for naming their business was a helpful exercise. Ultimately, it helped me choose a name.
So, here’s how we named Fairway Stables™!
First and foremost, we knew we wanted the name to include “stables.” This wasn’t going to be a farm, a ranch, etc. Even if more farm animals are added in the future, the business is completely centered around horses.
This is also a business my husband and I were embarking on together, so I wanted the name to reflect both of us. I spent a few days trying to brainstorm. I finally went up to my husband and asked him where he feels most at peace–where he could just take a breath and relax. “Probably the fairway of a golf course,” he responded. “You look around, you’re surrounded by nature, and when you take your shot, the fairway is where you want to be”.
There you have it!
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