Equestrian Words to Know

The equestrian world has a language all its own. If you’re not familiar with the terminology you can quickly become lost in a conversation with an equine pro.

If you’re in a situation such as riding a horse, grooming a horse or the general vicinity of a horse it is expected that you know this terminology.

Below are words, grouped by their subject, then alphabetically. This is not a complete list of all terms, but it is the majority of them.

There are a lot of words that accompany the equine world, but don’t worry, some of the words you’ll learn just from hanging out at the stable and listening to other rider’s.

Identify a Horse

  • Colt – A young horse that is uncastrated.
  • Filly – A young female horse.
  • Foal – A young horse of either gender.
  • Gelding – A castrated male horse.
  • Mare – An adult female horse.
  • Stud – An adult male horse that is uncastrated.
  • Yearling – A horse that is one year old. Can be up to 2 years old.

Pertaining to Horses

  • Action – How the horse is moving his legs especially when trotting.
  • At Stud – When a Stallion is available for breeding.
  • Balk – When a horse stops (usually because of an object they fear) and will not move forward on command.
  • Barefoot – A horse without horse shoes on.
  • Billet – The thick strap that goes from one side of the saddle, under the horses belly and back up to the other side of the saddle to hold the saddle on the horse.
  • Bit – The bit is attached to the headstall. It is the piece inserted into the horses mouth.
  • Bot Fly – A fly that lays white bot eggs on the horses hair (cause of worms)
  • Bridle – All the parts including headstall, bit, chin strap, throat strap.
  • Castrated – The removal of a male horses reproductive organs.
  • Chestnut – On the inside of the horses leg at his knee a small piece of hoof material grows. It can be picked off if it gets too large.
  • Cinch – Same as billet. The thick strap the holds the saddle on the horse.
  • Colic – Commonly used to describe various equine stomach upset that can be deadly.
  • Confirmation – This is the look of the horse. The muscling, stance, weight, head position, proportions, etc.
  • Frog – A tender portion of raised flesh on the underside of a horses hoof.
  • Gait – This is the various methods a horse uses to propel itself. IE: Walk, Trot, Canter, Lope, Gallop and the sub-discipline’s of those gaits.
  • Ground Work – Training done from the ground. No one in the saddle.
  • A Hand – Measurement for determining the height of a horse. 1 hand = 4 inches.
  • Headstall – The piece that goes on the head of the horse with nothing else attached.
  • Lead – Which front leg of the horse lands last.
  • Lunge – Exercise where the horse circles around the trainer on a long lead line called a lunge line.
  • Lunge Line – A long lead line (Various lengths 10ft – 25ft.) used when you lunge a horse.
  • Neck Rein – By placing the rein on the horses neck to turn him.
  • Near Side – Left side of the horse. The default mounting side of the horse.
  • Post/Posting – Rising out of your seat at a trot then set back down rhythmically.
  • Surcingle – Thick padded training cinch with clips, but no saddle seat.
  • Tack – The equipment used for grooming the horse.

The Bridle

  • Bit – A name for the various mouth pieces for guiding the horse.
  • Bit-less Bridle – Any variety of bridle without a bit.
  • Bridle – The headstall, throat strap, chin strap and bit put together.
  • Chin strap – The strap that goes under the horses chin and attaches to the bridle or mouthpiece on the sides.
  • Curb chain – Another word for chin strap.
  • Drop nose band – A band that sets low on the horses nose usually to keep his mouth shut from avoiding the action of the bit.
  • Headstall – The piece that sets on the poll of the horses head.
  • Throat strap – The piece that runs over the poll and under the throat to hold the bridle on the horses head.d – A strap encircling the horses nose to keep his mouth closed.

The Saddle

  • Cantle – Of various height according to the use of the saddle the cantle rises behind the rider securing their seat.
  • Cinch Strap – A wide strap attached to the saddle below the jockey used to secure the saddle to the horse by attaching at one side, passing under the horses belly and attaching to the other side.
  • Cinch Strap (2nd cinch) – This slit is for a second cinch to be attached. Cattle work, endurance riding, mountain riding all require a second cinch to prevent the saddle from sliding and flipping up in the back. It is loosely attached unlike the front cinch that is pulled tight around the chest of the horse.
  • “D” Ring – Used to attach the breast/chest collar to the saddle. There is one on each side of the saddle.
  • Fender -The wide piece of leather that protects the riders legs from the cinch and cinch parts. Usually highly decorated with intricate designs.
  • Gullet – The arched area at the front of the saddle where the horses backbone is allowed to pass through.
  • Horn – A knob coming out of the pommel very much like a boat cleat except the top is not a large “T” it’s more of an upside down “L” formation. The horn is for roping cattle, not a source of security for the rider.
  • Jockey – The jockey is leather that sits below the seat and above the skirt.
  • Latigo Keeper – This flap of leather with a slit in it is for the excess cinch strap to be threaded through so it won’t dangle and tangle with the horses legs.
  • Pommel – The front part of the saddle that sets high. The height depends on the activity the saddle is built for IE: roping = low pommel (for quick dismount & unhindered rope work), barrel racing = high pommel (grasp with your knees).
  • Seat – This is where the rider sits on the saddle. When measuring a saddle place the tape measure at the front of the seat and measure to the rear of the seat. A measurement of 14″ is a small seat, 16″ is a medium seat and 18″+ is a large seat.
  • Skirt – The skirt protects the horse from the bars that hold the fender and the stirrups.
  • Stirrup – One on each side of the saddle, they are used for the rider to place their boot in.
  • Stirrup Adjustment – Either with a buckle or a slide adjustment, this part allows the stirrups to be lowered or raised according to the length of the riders legs.
  • Stirrup Keeper – This is a thick piece of leather on the inside of the fender, often it is a part of the fender, that keeps the stirrup attached.

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