Glossary of Horse Terms


Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary.

- A -

Aging - this term describes the action of examining a horse's teeth to determine it's age.

Albino: contrary to popular beliefs, albinos do indeed exist. They are born pure white with very light blue or uncolored eyes. The blue is a tint from the blood. Albinos are quite rare, but are found in all types of mammals, including humans, and eyes only appear red in rodents and related animals, such as rabbits and beavers. Albinos are the only true white horses.

Appaloosa: an American breed characterized by having one or more appaloosa characteristics, such as spots on the coat, mottling, striped hooves, eye whites, etc. Also any type of horse with these characteristics of any breed as a color.

Arabian: a unique horse of Arabic breeding with an unusually arched nack, short back, arched tail, dished face, and fewer bones than that of any other horse breed.

Arena - an outdoor area surrounded by fence, usually in the shape of a square, circle or oval which horses are ridden or exercised.

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- B -

Bay: a horse of chestnut coat with black points. Horses of this color may be split into catagories: blood bay, golden bay, dun (if applies), etc.

Black: a color of horse, the darkest a horse can get. A horse may have black points (mane, tail, and legs) or be a black roan or a piebald pinto, as well as a solid black. Black horses are very rare, and have NO brown shadings on the body whatsoever. Usually, horses classified as blacks are actually dark bay.

Buckskin: a palomino-colored horse (tan or gold) with black points.

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- C -

Canter: a three-beat gair of the horse where legs on opposite sides and leading strike the ground at the same time. Faster than the trot and slower than the gallop.

Chestnut: a horse of any "brown or red" color with the same color or darker mane and tail (but not black). Dark ones are called Liver Chestnuts or Seal chestnuts, while light ones can be Golden Chestnuts, Red Chestnuts, sorrels, and more.

Colt: a young, uncasterated male horse between the ages of birth and 4 years.

Conformation - The shape of a horse's body. A horse with good conformation is stronger and more likely to stay sound than one with weak conformation.

Corral: a place to keep large numbers or low numbers of stock, like a big arena outdoors but usually not used for riding in, only holding stock.

Creamello: a very light palomino color.
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- D -

Dappled Grey: an early stage of fleabitten, where the body appears grey with white speckles throughout it.

Dun: a horse of any color with charactoristics such as a dorsal stripe, transversal stripe, and striped legs.

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- E -

Equestrian: a horseback rider.

Equine: Any type of equidite; horses, ponies, donkies, mules.

Equitation: how an equestrian performs.

ER: Equine Rescue, usually some sort of organization to help equines, sometimes an individual or doing.

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- F -

Feral: These horses are not wild as they did not naturally live in the area that they do now, so are not wild, but are no longer tame, either. This includes such horses as Mustangs and Brumbies.

Fleabitten: A horse is fleabiif his or her coat has roaned out from either a dappled grey, black, chestnut, bay, or blue roan and all that is left is tiny speckles across the fur. The horse will eventually turn completely white. This is an advanced stage of roaning, but is NOT considered roan. Types of fleabitten are fleabitten grey and fleabitten red roan.

Filly: a young female horse who has not yet had a foal between the ages of birth and 4 years.

Foal: a young horse of either sex between the ages of birth and weaning.

Fox trot: where a horse trots with his forelegs and walks with his back, a very smooth gait that is rare in most breeds aside from the Rocky Mountain Pony and the MO Fox Trotter. Also known as a single foot.

Frog: The soft part on the bottom of a horse's foot, similar to the sole of a shoe.

Furlong: 1/8th of a mile. This is used as a distance on a track.

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- G -

Gait - The different speeds a horse can travel. Every horse has 4 natural "gaits", the (1) walk (2) trot (3) canter (4) gallop.

Gelding: a casterated male horse.

Grey: Almost all white appearing horses are grey. A horse is grey if his or her coat is black. A horse may turn grey from any color. Most "white" horses are actually grey.

Gymkhana: Western gaming, such as barrel racing or pole bending.

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- H -

Hand - Measures how tall a horse is (one hand = four inches).

: A cross between a donkey Jenny and a stallion.

Horse: a stallion, or uncasterated adult male horse over 4 years of age.

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- I -

Irons: English sturrups.

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- J -

Jack: A male donkey.

Jenny: A female donkey.

Jockey: The rider of a racehorse.

John: A male mule.

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- K -

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- L -

Lame - A "lame horse" has an injury that interferes with his performance and/or health.

Length: Approx. 8-9 feet, or the length of a stretched out horse at a gallop.

Lunge Line - A very long rein (about 20-40 feet) used to lunge a horse.

Lunging - A way of exercising a horse, using a lunge line that is attached to the horse's halter. The horse moves in circles around the trainer, who stands in the middle holding the lunge line.

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- M -

Mare: an adult female horse over the ages of 4 years or after she has had her first foal.

Medicine Hat: a spot of color on the ears of a pinto horse. This does not extend down the face or neck at all. A horse with a spot of color on an otherwise white head that goes down to the throatlatch but doesn't extend down the face or extend beyond the top of the neck is called a War Bonnet.

Molly: A female mule.

Mule: A cross between a female horse (mare) and a male donkey (jack).

Mustang: any breed of feral American horse. Mustang is often refurred to as a breed.

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- N -

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- O -

Overo: a pinto of any color with no white crossing his or her back.

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- P -

Pace: a gait found in many horses that don't trot, where legs on the same side of the body move together.

Paddock: a turnout place for horses outside, like a tiny corral but only used for one or twohorses at a time.

Palomino: a horse the color of a "new gold coin" with white points. White legs are not necissary, but usually wanted. Palominos are a color, not a breed. Palominos can only be born by breeding two palominos, and even then, only 1/2 of the foals will turn out palominos. Many breeds do not allow palominos to be registered, such as arabians and thoroughbreds, and are therefore classified as chestnuts.

Perlino: a white-colored horse with cream or palomino shadings.

Piebald: a pinto of grey and white or black and white coloring.

Pintabian: a breed of horse over 99% arabian with tobiano pinto markings.

Pinto: a horse with large splashes of any color and white. Hairs are not combined as with roans, but instead keep seperate with their own colors.

Points: This word is used when describing the color of a horse. The "points" of a horse are his mane, tail, lower legs and the tips of his ears.

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- Q -

Quarter Horse: the world's most popular and versital breed. This breed was originally bred as a range horse, then for running races at short distances, such as a quarter of a mile.

Quarter Pole: the colored pole one quarter of the way from the finish line for a race. This is where Quarter Horses start their races.

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- R -

Race: a compotition for horses, where the winning horse is the fastest for that race and crosses the finish line first.

Race Horse: any type of racing breed, usually thoroughbreds, appaloosas, quarter horses, standardbreds, or arabians.

Rack: The fastest show gait of a five-gaited horse, a high-stepping pace-type motion.

Roan: a horse may be blue roan, black roan, or red roan. A roan usually has darker colored points and face or black points with a mixture of hairs of, for example, red and white (red roan).

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- S -

Sabino: a splashy pinto pattern, with a white belly. Sabinos are also overos.

Saddle: a piece of riding equipment put over the horses' back as a type of brace and seat for the rider.

Singlefoot: a fox trot.

Skewbald: a pinto horse of any color but grey and white or black and white.

Sorrel: a horse of a chestnut coat color with a flaxen or white mane and tail. This can be split into catagories, such as copper-sorrel, chocolate sorrel, palomino, etc.

Sound - A "sound horse" does not have any injuries that interfere with his performance and/or health.

Stall: an indoor box where a horse is kept at times during the day.

Stallion: an uncasterated adult male horse over 4 years of age.

Stud: a stallion used for breeding.

Stirrups: a place to keep your feet when riding for support in the western saddle.

Surcingle: a girth used for race horses that goes all the way over the saddle.   May also be used bareback for training or vaulting.

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- T -

Tack - All equipment used on a horse (bridle, saddle, halter, etc.)

Thoroughbred: any descendant of three specific arabian stallions of the 1600's. They are usually used for middle-distance races, shorter than indurance but longer than 1/2 of a mile. Also, these horses must trace their parentiage back to at least one of three thoroughbred stallions: Herod, Matchem, or Eclipse.

Tobiano: a pinto of any color with some white crossing its back and a solid colored head (markings are permittable).

Tovero: a pinto of any color with overo-stle markings, and perhaps a bit of white crossing either the loins over the back and/or the lower neck. Otherwise usually a solid color with a white face and markings. Mostly colored.

Thrush - a bacterial infection of the frog, characterized by a black colored, foul-smelling discharge. If left un-treated, thrush can result in founder-like symptoms.

Turnout - the act of turning a horse loose in a pasture, paddock or corral.

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- U -

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- V -

Vice - a bad habit that is learned by a horse, usually by watching other horses, or by inventing due to boredom. Common vices are wood chewing, wind sucking (cribbing), pacing, pawing and rocking.

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- W -

War Bonnet: A horse with a spot of color on an otherwise white head that goes down to the throatlatch but doesn't extend down the face or extend beyond the top of the neck is called a War Bonnet.

Weanling: a young horse of either sex that no longer needs it's mother's milk, and lives on grasses.

Warmblood: almost any sport horse type is a warmblood. A warmblood is a horse used for riding but not racing. A warmblood can also be a European crossbred.

White: an albino horse.

Withers - a part of the horse which is located between the horse's neck and back. A horse's height is measured from the tallest point of its withers.

Worms - parasites harbored by horses. If present in large numbers, they can cause serious damage, such as colic, loss of condition and even death. There are many types of worms, but regular dosing of worm medicine (dewormer) usually prevents serious infestation.

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- Y -

Yearling: a horse who is between 1 and 2 years old.

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- Z -

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