Know your horsey lingo

We sometimes forget that common horse terminology we use actually sounds like a completely foreign language to non-horsey people.

“Can you bring over that Bay gelding and put him in the crossties? He will need another flake tonight at dinner as he’s a hard keeper.  Grab me those Polo wraps when you get a chance.”

Can you decipher the previous paragraph? If you are a “horse person” it makes complete sense, but if you are new to the equestrian scene it may be a bit more difficult.  We sometimes forget that common horse terminology we use actually sounds like a completely foreign language to non-horsey people.

Below are some common horse terms you may find especially useful when talking “horse” to your equestrian friends.  Happy Trails! 

Mare/filly: A female horse over the age of 4 is a mare, under the age of 4 she is a filly.

Stallion/colt: A male, un-castrated horse over the age of 4 who is capable of breeding is a stallion. A colt is a male horse under the age of 4 who is un-castrated.

Gelding: A male horse, of any age, who has been castrated. 

Hand: The unit of measurement referring to the horse’s height. A “hand” is equal to 4 inches. The horse is measured from the ground to the top of his shoulder, which is called the wither. The wither is the raised part at the base of horse’s neck. 

Tack: All the equipment used to work with or ride a horse, i.e saddle, bridle, halter, etc. 

Tacking up horse: Saddling and bridling the horse to get ready to ride.

Flake Of Hay: A section of compacted hay broken off from a larger bale of hay, usually approximately 12-15 pounds.

Action: Movement of the horse, way of going. 

Gaits of horse: The type/speed of movement of the horse,  i.e.: walk, trot, canter, gallop. 

Barn sour/buddy sour: Horse does not want to leave his stable or doesn’t want to leave his horse companion, may act up if taken away from barn or friends.

Sound/unsound: If a horse is considered “sound” it means they are comfortable and not showing any lameness or soreness. If a horse is unsound it means they are injured or lame or sore. 

Broke: Horse has been trained to ride.

Green/Greenbroke: Horse is just beginning its training under saddle, inexperienced, not too steady or reliable yet.

Bomb Proof: Horse is very calm and can be ridden by most anyone, even with little horse riding experience, nothing fazes this horse. 

Backing the horse: Getting on the horse, riding the horse.

Easy/Hard keeper: Easy keeper is a horse that doesn’t require much feed to maintain a proper weight, hard keeper is a horse that is difficult to keep weight or condition on him. 

Change your rein: Change the direction in the way of going in the arena.

Cross ties: A way of securing a horse in an aisle way to groom him, a snap attached to a rope goes from the wall the horse’ halter on both sides of his nose.  

Cribbing: A behavioral disorder where the horse grabs an object with its teeth and then forces itself to swallow air, can cause veterinary problems. 

Polo wraps:  Soft long pieces of cloth, usually cotton, approximately 4 inches wide and 5 feet long. Wrapped around a horse’s lower leg to provide support and protection when being ridden or worked. 

Grade horse: A horse without registration papers, can be any number of horse breed crosses.

LORI RICIGLIANO is a horse judge, trainer, riding instructor, equine photographer and clinician. She also hosts a weekly syndicated equine radio talk show “Hoof Beats with Lori.” Lori has held her horse judges license as a USEF /AHA — “R” rated licensed horse judge for more than 25 years and currently operates Ricigliano Farms Horse Training and Riding Academy near Kent, Minn. She can be reached by email or phone at 218-557-8762 or riciglianofarms@gmail. com. Her website is www.

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