It has come to our attention that this website has a decidedly English discipline slant, largely because we’ve always ridden English & we try to stick with what we know.
You Asked For It
In response to several requests, we put together this terminology glossary for western shows. Here’s hoping that my western readers will correct any mistakes and remind me of anything important that I’m missing.
If western isn’t your thing be sure to check out some other glossaries.
Basics | English Show | Dressage A-E | Dressage F-O | Dressage P-W
Universal Western Lingo
Backing must be done quickly, in a perfectly straight line and with no hesitation.
A second girth on the western saddle used to keep the saddle from tipping during quick maneuvers.
When a horse changes their lead with both front and hind legs in mid-stride.
Refers to the height and angle of the horses head while in motion.
A slow trot that has a two-beat gait as diagonal legs hit the ground at simultaneously.
A slow canter that has a three-beat gait and can have a right or a left lead.
Turning a horse by applying pressure from the reins on one side of the neck or the other.
A generic term used to describe most disciplines of western riding.
A Pelham bit used on western bridles.
Used to control the position of the horses head while riding. (Also called martingale)
A style of riding characterized by a larger saddle with a pommel and a horn.
A class which judges how well a horse has been cleaned up for the show.
A class in which the horse and rider cut (or separate) one cow from a heard. Scoring is based on the teams ability to anticipate cow movements and keep them away from the herd.
A class which judges the animal by their confirmation & movement based on official breed standards.
A class which judges the rider on their seat, position and poise as they complete a predetermined pattern.
A class which is judged on the horse as they go through their gaits on the rail. Horses are judged on their manners, disposition and smoothness of gaits.
A class which puts horse and rider through a series of patterns designed to mimic a herding horse at work. Scoring is based on the perfection of each movement.
More Reining terminology
A class in which horse and rider jump after a released cow on cue, chase the cow, rope it and bring it to the floor. Scoring is based on maneuvering and time.
More Roping Terminology
A class which judges the handlers ability to show their horse in-hand.
A class which puts horse and rider through a series of obstacles designed to test agility, manners and teamwork.
More On The Way
This is just the beginning, the rabbit hole of western horse show terminology goes much deeper. We’ve sub-dividing categories like crazy & learned a lot in the process.Please feel free to comment anything we’ve missed in the basics & check out some more terminology.