Horse Term Glossary

Horse Glossary

Other horse glossaries

A

Above the bit
When a horse stretches forward and raises his head to get the bit above the rider’s hand.

Acre
A unit of land measurement – equals 4840 sq yards or 43560 sq feet.

Action
A general term used to describe the way a horse travels and the movement of their legs. Includes the degree of animation and flexion of the leg joints as well as the head, neck and tail carriage. The desired action for a horse varies by breed and discipline.

B

Bale
Hay measurement equal to 10 flakes of hay

Balk
Refusing to move.

Bareback
Riding without a saddle.

Barefoot
A barefoot horse wears no shoes.

Barn sour
A horse who balks when asked to leave the barn or stable area.

Beat
One step in a horses gait, can involve one leg or two.

Bedding
Wood chips, straw or shavings used on the floor of a horses stall to absorb moisture and provide padding.

Behind the bit
When a horse evades contact with the bit by putting his head down.

Bell boots
Rubber boots (that have a bell-shape) that fit over a horses hoof to protect them during workout.

Bit
The part of the bridle that goes in the horses mouth and attaches to the reins.

Blanket
A term used to describe the white pattern of some appaloosa horses.

Bowed hocks
A fault in conformation which means the hocks of the hind legs turn outwards.

Bowed tendons
A tendon that stays inflamed all the time. Doesn’t generally result in lameness, however that tendon is not as strong which can create other issues.

Breed
A group of horses with distinct genetics, animals recognized for each breed are kept in official stud books.

Breeding stock
A stallion or mare that meets the expected requirements which make them eligible to be registered for a specific breed.

Bridle
Worn on the horses head and used to control them, a bridle includes the headpiece, bit, reins, chin strap and headstall.

Bridle path
The area between the forelock and the mane generally clipped to allow the bridle a place to rest.

Bronco
Also called a bronc
A horse who has never been broken or tamed for use.

Broodmare
A female horse used solely for breeding.

Bot fly
A fly often found around horses that looks similar to a big bee. They lay tiny white eggs on horses legs and belly. If ingested the larvae migrate to the stomach wall where they attach themselves.

Buck
When a horse jumps upwards, arches their back and kicks their heels up.

C

Canter
Also called lope or slow gallop
A three beat gait – english discipline.

Cast
A cast horse is one that has fallen or laid down so close to a fence or wall that they can’t get up without help.

Chestnut
A bony protrusion on the inside of bottom of each foreleg.

Cinch
Also called a girth
The piece of tack that holds the saddle on the horse.

Cold-blooded
Horses with roots in the draft breeds and heavy war horses. Cold blooded breeds often develop in colder climate and generally exhibit a thick coat, long fetlocks and dense bone structure.

Colostrum
A mares first milk which is high in protein, sugar, and globulins. The globulins pass along essential proteins to foals which provide temporary immunity against infectious diseases.

Colic
Spasms of the intestine which cause spasmodic pain in horses. Symptoms include sweating, excessive rolling and kicking at their stomach.

Colt
A male horse under 4 years of age that has not been castrated.

Conformation
The overall structure of the horse. Varies from breed to breed.

Countercanter
Cantering on the incorrect lead.

Cow hocks
A fault in conformation which means the hocks of the hind legs turn inwards.

Cow horse
A horse trained to work roping, cutting or working herds of cows.

Cribbing
When a horse takes a horizontal object into their mouth and stretches its esophagus to suck wind. This behavior is learned and can become obsessive.

Curry comb
A horse brush made of either metal, plastic or rubber with small teeth for cleaning in a circular motion. Often the first brush used.

Cutting horse
Cow horses used to cut specific cattle from the heard for branding. There are also cutting horse competitions.

D

Dam
A horses mother.

Diagonal
A pair of diagonal legs at the trot, right front and left hind or left front and right hind. In the english discipline a rider “posts” or sits forward as the outside foreleg rises in stride.

Donkey
Also called burros
A common name for a member of the ass family.

Dorsal Stripe
A dark line from the base of the mane to the base of the tail, this is a primitive marking found on horses with a dun dilution gene.

Draft horse
One of the heavy breeds of horse, developed originally for farm or heavy freight work. Average 1,500 – 2,200 pounds and can reach 17 hands in height. Includes the percheron, belgian and clydesdale.

Dressage
An english discipline which is often called horse ballet. One of the three events at the Olympic games.

Dressage terminology A-E, F-O & P-W

E

Equine
The Equidae family, includes horses, asses and zebras.

Equitation
The art of riding.

Eventing
Competitions which include three different areas, dressage, cross country and stadium jumping.

Extention
Increasing speed and stride length in any gait while maintaining the original rhythm.

F

Far side
Right side of the horse.

Farrier
Shapes horse shoes with fire and fits them to horses hooves.

Feathers
Hair on the fetlock that grows long enough to cover the hooves of some draft breeds.

Filly
A female horse under 4 year of age.

Flake
Hay measurement, there are 10 flakes in a bale.

Floating teeth
Horses teeth never stop growing and the process of filing off sharp edges is called floating horses teeth.

Flying lead change
Changing from one lead to the other without breaking gait.

Foal
A baby horse or pony still suckling from their dam.

Frog
A shock absorbing wedge-shaped pad in the sole of the hoof that contacts the ground first with each step.

Fox Trot
A broken diagonal gait with a very distinctive rhythm, this rhythm is created when the front foot leaves the ground a split second before the opposite rear foot hits the ground. Two feet are on the ground at all times which makes this gait very smooth.

G

Gait
A pattern of repetitive foot movements used in locomotion, including the walk, trot and canter.

Gaited horse
A horse with flashy gaits bred for comfort on plantations. Includes the American Saddlebred, Morgan horse and Tennessee Walking Horse.

Gallop
A three-beat gait and the fastest a horse can go.

Gelding
A male horse that has been castrated.

Glass-eyed
A blue eyed horse.

Green Horse
A horse that is in the early stages of training.

Green Rider
A rider that is in the early stages of training.

Ground tie
The term used to described a horse who stands in place with the reins on the ground in front of it.

Gymkhana
A variety of timed, competitive mounted games

H

Hackamore
A bitless bridle that uses pressure on the nose and jaw to control the horse.

Halter
A leather or rope harness placed around the horses head and fastened, used as a place to anchor a lead line.

Hand
A unit of measurement for horses = 4 inches.

Head shy
A horse that spooks or starts when you move too quickly near their head, often an indication of abuse.

Height
Horses are measured from the ground to the top of the withers and measured in 4 inch increments called hands.

Hinny
Produced by crossing a female donkey (also called a jennet or jenny) with a male horse.

Hobbles
Used to keep a horse from getting far, rope or leather loops used to tie the forelegs together.

Horse
An equine taller than 14.2 hands.

Hot-blooded
Horses whose bloodlines are Thoroughbred or Arabian. Hot blooded breeds often develop in hot countries where horses are used for transportation over long, hot distances. Generally they exhibit fine bones, fine, thin coat and high energy.

I

In season
When a mare is ready to breed.

J

Jack
Male of the ass species

Jennet
Female of the ass species

Jog
Slow trot – western discipline.

L

Lame
A term used to describe a horse that is limping or displaying signs of leg or foot problems.

Lead
The pattern of footfall at the canter (lope). The foreleg on the inside reaches out further in the stride than that of the outside leg. (This aides in balance in many four-legged animals).

Lope
Also called canter
Three-beat gait – western discipline.

Longe
To work a horse on a long line in a circle around you.

M

Mare
A female horse over 4 years old.

Martingale
A piece of leather tack used to control how high the horse raises their head, it consists of a strap around the girth and a strap around the chinstrap of the bridle. English descipline.

Mule
The offspring of a female horse and a male donkey (also called a jack).

Mustang
A wild (or feral) horse. The word comes from the Spanish word for mixed blood – mestizo.

N

Near side
The left side of the horse.

Neck rein
Also called brace rein and bearing rein
Guiding a horse by moving the reins against their neck

P

Pace
A two-beat lateral gait, both legs on the right side moving forward, then both legs on the left, front and rear legs are picked up and put down simultaneously. A pacing horse moves its head side to side to counter balance the way their feet move.

Points
Mane, tail and lower legs – sometimes muzzle.

Pony
Small breeds, ponies must be under 14.2 hands tall.

Purebred
A horse with pure bloodlines who can produce the physical characteristics required by their breed.

R

Rear
When a horse stands on its hind legs with its forelegs in the air.

S

Sire
A horses father.

Sound
A sound horse is a horse with good legs and feet – no lameness.

Splint
Term used to describe inflammation of the area where the splint bone attached to the cannon bone. On older horses splints can become large bony growths along the splint bone.

Splint boots
Boots worn around the cannons on the forelegs to protect them and prevent injury during training.

Stallion
A male horse that hasn’t been castrated.

Stud
A stallion used for breeding (usually used exclusively for that purpose).

Stud book
A listing of breeding stallions kept by the registered organization for their breed.

T

Tack
Horse tack is a general term to describe items used in horsemanship including bridles, saddles, leathers, blankets, halters, ropes, etc.

Thoroughbred tatto
All thoroughbreds registered with the Jockey Club carry an identification number on the inside of their upper lip.

Thrush
A common disease of the hoof which causes the frog to decompose and stink. Often caused by standing in wet footing, unsanitary conditions, lack of exercise or neglected foot care.

Tie down
A piece of leather tack used to control how high the horse raises their head, it consists of a strap around the girth and a strap around the chinstrap of the bridle. western descipline.

Topline
The top line of the horse from the ears to the top of the tail.

Trot
A two-beat gait.

Twitch
A metal clasp which is used to clamp the top lip of a horse to keep them calm during treatment.

U

Underline
The bottom line of the horse from the elbow to the sheath or udder.

W

Walk
A four-beat flat-footed gait.

Weanling
A horse under one years of age that has been separated (or weaned) from its mother.

Western
A discipline of riding with a variety of sub-divisions. The defining factor being the saddle, which is larger and has a horn.

Western Show Terminology Basics

Y

Yearling
A general term used to describe a horse right around one years old.


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