But They All Look Alike! How Do You Know Which Horse is Yours?

This is a post for the non-horsey.

Occasionally, some horses are difficult to tell apart. For real.

Because Bella and I fill in for each other, frequently both our horses are out with just one of us. We ride the horse that needs it that day, and pony the other one, occasionally switching them out during the exercise period. I can see why it might get confusing to figure out which horse belongs to whom.

That’s okay. Understandable. Plus both are Quarter Horses.

But to new boarders, or people new to horses, Hudson and Woodrow look identical.

This sends Bella and I into fits of laughter.

Hudson is taller, and leans to the thoroughbred type. (think pro basketball)

Woodrow is a tank: wide, well-muscled, he’d strike fear in the heart of defensive linebackers everywhere. If he was less good-natured, the Oakland Raiders would be all over trying to sign him.

My favorite comment: “is Hudson the one with the blaze, or the one with the star?”

Hudson is the taller dark brown horse. Woodrow is the shorter, but broader, orange horse. You can skip the facial markings.

There is still hope for the body or color impaired! Noticing the horse’s personality can be a big help.

I went to say good night to the boys before I went home.

Exhibit A: Hudson.

His thought bubble reads, “Uh, okaaaaaay. Goodbye. Again. Haven’t I seen you like ALL DAY?”


Exhibit B: Woodrow

His thought bubble reads: “Hey! How have you been? Whatcha got? What is that? Can I eat it? Oh oh oh!!! Take a picture of my nostril for your blog. That would be hilarious.

You’re leaving? Why? You should stay. Hugs! My back itches. Did you know your pocket had a cookie in it earlier? I still smell it. yum. Why didn’t you save one for me? That’s okay. I get one tomorrow, right? Or you could go get one now. I’ll wait. Hey. My back still itches. Scratch?”


Personality is what makes you really remember a horse. Essentially I tell people, “The bored looking horse with a slight smirk of contempt is Hudson. The happy, curious, friendly horse with the look of extreme interest in everything around him is Woodrow.”

For our horsey friends, how do you help people differentiate your horse from the one for which he’s usually mistaken?

31 thoughts on “But They All Look Alike! How Do You Know Which Horse is Yours?

  1. I still have a problem properly identifying all my instructor’s horses. I usually sort of wait for some kind of cue from her – or anybody – but sometimes I just guess. It’s the brown ones that cause me the most trouble.

  2. “picture of my nostril” LOL

    We had a barn full of sorrels. But everyone knew which was the mean mare. Funny how pinned ears will teach ya quick.

    Glad you are back, glad the surgery is done. Sending healing thoughts.

  3. I had a terrible fear that my first horse would be stolen/lost/misplaced and that nobody but me would be able to identify her (plain brown standardbred). The local law enforcement could tell a horse from a cow, but to pick out a particular brown horse would be asking for miracles.

    Fiddle is also a plain-brown-wrapper, but with her USTA registration number tattooed in white on her neck, which I love. I’d still be able to pick her out from a crowd, of course–she’d be the one breathing the fire…

    Totally cracks me when people can’t tell my shelties apart, though. They’re both the same breed and and the same gender. Other than that, not much the same. If it’s brown and twirling in clockwise circles and barking, it’s Mimsy. If it’s blue and collapsed on your foot to show a floofy tummy, it’s Luna!

    1. Brown and blue. Pretty distinctive in my book? I have to say, you have the BEST names. Mimsy. Perfect. Luna Floofy. Perfect. Horse with an attitude: Fiddle (de dee). You are totally naming my next family member. Which, by the appearence of the animals hanging around for handouts, is either a stunning jet black domestic rabbit, or a fairly plump skunk with a mild temperment. (Still, with the Skunk Karma, Oy.)

        1. The gorgeous jet black rabbit, for whom Lena would be a perfect name, has moved on. I am apparently stuck with Woozel the Charmingly Goofy Skunk. Why does this not surprise us?

  4. I am soooo happy you are back!!! If you decide to take another break, please give us a heads up so we don’t think something awful happened to you : )

    1. I made a promise that I will tell you I am not dead! I also gave everyone guilt-free permission to ask if I am dead, if you haven’t head from me in awhile. Even if I am accidentally really dead? I still want you to be guilt free: I gave you permission! And it’s FUNNY! I promise I’ll be laughing. Wherever I am. šŸ˜‰

      (Problem: occasionally, retreating to the blanket fort wins, and I forget to use my words. Asking if I’m dead will definitely jostle me into responding, or Shaun into saying, “Sadly, yes. Because I KILLED HER!”)

  5. My dear boyfriend who has known Ginger since the day she became mine, confused a very cute 14.3 light chestnut arab gelding for Ginger. Needless to say Ginger was not amused (ears pinned, snorting, stomping, and basically having a mare meltdown) that the cute little arab gelding was getting ALL of her treats. When I kindly pointed this out, the response from non-horsey boyfriend was “well they look the same” Never mind that Ginger is 15.3, much darker, different markings, looks way more saddle bred than a typey arab and oh hey a she’s a mare!

    I prefer to think of Hudson as the tall, dark, handsome and suave leading man and Woodrow as his comic relief. Ginger agrees with me on this.

    1. You know that Hudson is going to make sure Ginger receives a hefty amount of his cookies. He likes to reinforce that HE is the debonair one. (We won’t tell him that a certain mare with a remarkable resemblance to Princess Grace has batted her eyes in Woodrow’s direction!)

  6. A friend at my previous yard had arranged that her mum would check her horse when she was working late or away. The bay gelding was always turned out with another bay gelding, so she would tell her ‘he’s the one with the blaze and the front left white sock.’. Of course, her mum couldn’t tell which bay gelding with a blaze and front left white sock was her daughter’s, and which, similarly marked horse was his field buddy, so she used to give them both a mint to make sure!

  7. We used to pasture board our chestnut, Red, in a pasture with… wait for it… EIGHT other short, stubby chestnut geldings. Fortunately Red was the only one with a star and a snip, but in the winter when I’d have to fetch him in the dark, I’d have to go check faces to find the right one.

  8. My poor husband knows my horse is bay and has a “white marking” on her face, but I don’t think he could pick her out of a line up šŸ™‚ As for her personality, she is very much a princess and a little to smart for her own good. We played “beauty shop” this week, main pulling, clipping goat whiskers etc.and she loved every minute of it.

    1. I love spa days. Bella reported back last night. Rain + too warm to blanket = Hudson is delighted to foil my grooming skills, and has camouflaged himself in layers of mud. I’m sure he’s figured out I’m off for awhile, and is taking advantage of every opportunity to make it appear he is completely uncared for, thus ensuring sympathy treats from everyone at the barn. šŸ˜‰

  9. LOL I had the same problem with my Haffies. When I first got them I knew they had differences in their looks (and later learned their personality quirks) but I just couldn’t readily recall, for a few days, just which one had the curly mane, or the wider blaze, etc. Once friends could see the personality of the horses, they knew Pippin for what he was… he was a pip, for sure – he had a Woodrow personality!

  10. Hahahah — love that. I guess I am lame, I say “The one with the star and brown legs is Encore. The one with the blaze and two white legs is Solo.” They still get confused even by horse people sometimes, which amuses me — orange tank Solo with big blaze and four hairs for a forelock vs. taller, liver-y Encore with bedroom eyes and long surfer bangs? I guess both are friendly and technically a shade of brown with roached manes?

    1. Not lame at all! I tried to describe Hudson at first as “the one with the most chrome” (Woodrow has a single perfect star shining out of his forehead) but that was too much detail some how, so I went to “brown” and “orange”. šŸ™‚

  11. 4 of the 6 horses here are gray, and they are all very different. Non-horseys ask if the tall, bold one is my Grandfather horse, the famous one. I always say yes, but no, the Grandfather is in the middle of the group, sway backed with crooked legs and sunken old eyes. It doesnt matter, he and I know the truth, and his legacy is that we all reflect him one way or another.

    1. I agree, it’s easier if character is the last thing we throw at the non-horsey. When all else fails! I’m still laughing at Laurie’s description of her BF confusing Ginger with a meek boy Arab. Ginger is half Standie, and the las thing we would call her is “meek”.

  12. My Jigs is like Woodrow. If he is ignored he starts to do things to get attention. A few weeks ago he pulled the mats in the barn aisle out of the barn to get everyone’s attention. It is not unusual for him walk through the barn and pull everything hanging off the stall doors off!

    1. Lol, Woodrow is very polite, even if he would like you to zip him inside your jacket and take him grocery shopping with you! Hudson, if he feels ignored, and has judged my mood as ‘unlikely to beat him to death for infractions’, will snatch blankets off blanket bars, knock the trash bin over in the tack room, and occasionally follow me in there as far as one cross tie will allow. (He’s too big for both cross ties, they don’t reach!) Character. We love character, right?

  13. I have an opposite problem – folks are used to my horse as an eventer, and now that he’s a much more muscular/less lean dressage horse living at my house when they see him after a long time I get “Oh, when did you get a new horse?” There’s no way non-horse people would tell the difference between him and another tall, dark TB or lean warmblood. Mom’s Friesian cross is nearly identical in coloring, but non horsey friends can tell them apart “oh, Tucson’s the one who looks like a supermodel, right?” because of his legginess.
    The one which has impressed me a long time is from an ex who lived near Ronald Reagan’s ranch in the 80’s. Apparently he told the Secret Service that they had to allow the area kids to ride through his property. Being kids, of course they often switched horses. Apparently the agents who guarded the various gated areas when the President was in the area had to memorize kids and horses, as they would greet them by name and know which horse they were on that time, their own or someone else’s. I was impressed when he told me they always knew and got it right.

    1. I absolutely love the story of the Secret Service Men! it makes sense. They must memorize people’s features to keep the president safe, and they did it with horses too. I will always think fondly of the Secret Service from now on.

      Does anyone know WHY they are called the secret service, when we all know who they are?

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