Glossary of Terms

Aids: Signals or cues by which the rider communicates his wishes to the horse. The “natural” aids include the voice, the legs, the hands, and weight. “Artificial” aids include the whip and spurs.

Bascule: the arc a horse makes over an obstacle when jumping

Bit: Metal mouthpiece on a bridle to which the reins attach

Body brush: Soft-bristled brush used to remove dust and light dirt

Breaking: training a horse to accept tack and a rider on it’s back

Bridle: Harness that fits around the horse’s head while being ridden

Canter: Three beat faster gait of the horse in which the outside hind leg strikes the ground first, followed by the inside hind leg and outside foreleg simultaneously and finally the inside foreleg. Called the lope in western riding

Cast: a horse who gets stuck lying down and cannot get up again

Cavaletti: small wooden jumps consisting of a fixed pole anchored at each end by an X frame

Coggins: A blood test for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). Horses which test positive may be required by the state of occupancy to be destroyed or permanently quarantined.

Coldblood: Draft horses who are very strong and often used to pull heavy loads

Colic: General term describing abdominal pain in the horse. Ranges in severity from mild to life-threatening. A veterinarian should always be consulted in case of suspected colic.

Colt: a male horse under 4 years old

Contact: keeping straight reins with constant pressure on the horse’s bit.

Crop or whip: Long thin hand-held device used to encourage a horse forward – also may be referred to as a “stick”

Curry comb: Hard rubber or metal comb used to remove sweat and stimulate skin

Dam: mother of a horse

Dandy brush: Hard bristled brush used to remove dried mud and sweat

Diagonal: horse’s opposite front and back legs moving together at a trot

Disciplines: Equine sports that include: Dressage, Show Jumping, Eventing, Western, Mounted Games,
Hunt Seat Equitation, Polo, and Polocrosse

Draw Reins: attaches to the girth and bridle, adds leverage when riding

Dressage: Training and education of the horse through prescribed movements and patterns on the flat (no jumping) from level to level

Dry Lot: a small area used to turn out horses that has no to little grass

Equitation: art of riding a horse with perfect rider position

Equestrian: One who rides horses

Equine: Anything horse-related

Equitation: The position of the rider on the horse

Eventing: Equestrian competition held over one, two, or three days and including the disciplines of dressage, cross country, and show jumping

Extension: making the length of the horse’s stride as big as possible

Farrier: Skilled professional who shoes horses

Fault: Penalties assessed for knocking a rail, traveling too slowly, refusing to jump a fence during competition

Filly: a female horse under 4 years old

Floating: Filing the sharp and uneven parts of a horse’s teeth.

Flying Change: changing the front foot a horse leads with at the canter; changing the horses lead at the canter

Foal: a newborn horse to six months old

Founder: a rotation of the coffin bone in a horse’s foot, leads to lameness

Frog: The sensitive, triangular area on the sole of the foot that acts as a shock absorber

Gait: how fast a horse is moving, such as walk, trot, canter, gallop

Gaited Horse: horse that moves at a pace other than Walk, trot, and canter

Gallop: Four-beat gait of the horse, in which each foot touches the ground separately, as opposed to the canter, which is a three-beat gait

Gelding: male horse who can’t have children

Grade Horse: a horse that is not registered with a breed association

Green Broke: A horse that is in the early learning stage of his particular discipline is said to be green

Ground line: Pole placed on the ground in front of a fence to help the horse and/or rider judge the take-off point

Ground Manners: how the horse acts with people when not being ridden

Gymnastic: two or more obstacles placed in a row one to five strides apart

Hack: riding a horse for light exercise

Half halt: A tug on one rein or change in the rider’s seat to communicate to the horse,” pay attention, please.” Usually used before asking for a change of direction or gait, or other exercise or movement.

Half Pass: movement where horse moves sideways with forward motion

Halter: Head harness used in the barn to control or restrain a horse

Hand: How horses are measured—one hand equals 4 inches.

Haunches-In: a side movement where the horse’s shoulders follow the track along the wall and the hindquarter is bended inwards

Helmet: Safety headwear that must meet certain standards to be worn

Hoof: The horse’s foot. Round in shape. Made of hard human fingernail-like material.

Hoof pick: grooming tool used to keep the hoof free of debris

Horse Inspection (Jogs): When a horse is trotted in hand to make sure it is sound for competition

Hotblood: Term describing horses of Arabian or Thoroughbred blood, they are speedy and fine boned

Hunter: horse trained for Hunt Seat discipline, also a type of horse

Impulse: amount of force a horse sues to push off from the ground

In Front of the Bit: when a horse hangs or pulls on the rider’s hands

Inside Leg: rider’s leg to the inside of a circle they’re riding.

Jump: obstacle a horse is asked to jump over

Jump Cup: Attaches to the wing or standard of a jump to hold the rail in position

Junior: Any rider under the age of 18.

Laminitis: inflamed bone in horse’s foot, can lead to founder

Lame: abnormal gait or stance of a horse, usually caused by pain

Lead: Term used to indicate the horse’s leading leg in canter i.e. “right lead canter” or “left lead canter”

Leg Up: a person assisting a rider onto their horse by boosting them up

Lope: western term for a canter, also slower than an English canter

Lunging: exercising horses on a rein approximately 23 feet long

Mare: Female horse aged four and over

Mounted Games: Games on horseback that help improve balance and confidence in a rider

Mucking: cleaning up after a horse’s mess, typical a stall, trailer, or cross-tie

Mule: part horse or pony and part donkey

Nearside: the left hand side of the horse, the side you mount from

Offside: the right side of a horse

On the Bit: horse’s head carried vertically and accepting the rider’s contact

On the Rail: keeping the horse near the fence or edge of an arena

Outside Leg: rider’s leg to the outside of circle they’re riding.

Over Face: too difficult for the rider or horse’s current level of training

Over Reaching: when the horse’s hind foot hits the heel bulb region of the front foot

Read more at:

Oxer: Single fence consisting of two elements which make a spread jump

Pace: The speed and way of going of the horse gait

Pony: A small horse, standing 14.2 hands or less. Historically in England, all mounts ridden by children, regardless of height.

Port: raised piece in the center of certain bits

Posting: rising up out of the saddle and then gently sit back down in rhythm with the horse’s motion while it is trotting

Refusal: When a horse intentionally avoids jumping a particular obstacle when asked

Saddle: Tack on which the rider sits on the back of a horse

Scope: athleticism, grace and talent for a particular discipline.

Shoulder In: placing the horse’s front legs inside the track while the hind legs stay on the track

Show Jumping: Riding competition showing speed and agility over technically difficult jumps that easily fall down

Sire: father of a horse

Sound: horse that is healthy enough to be ridden

Spur: Pointed device attached to a rider’s boot heel and used to cue a horse

Stallion: An intact male horse often used for breeding purposes

Standard: The upright portion of a jump used to create height

Stride: The step of the horse. Often used as a system of measurement between 2 jumps.

Tack: Term includes saddle, bridle, and other horse equipment

Time Faults: Incurred when the rider uses too much time between the start and stop. Usually 1 penalty point per second over the allowed time.

Transition: going from one gait to another

Trot: Moderate-speed gait in which the horse moves from one diagonal pair of legs to the other, with a period of suspension in between

Turnout: Out-door time for horse in a pasture or pen

Vaulting: Equestrian sport involving gymnastic exercises done on the back of a moving horse

Vertical: Jump with poles or planks placed one directly above another with no width

Warmblood: In general terms, a half-bred or part-bred horse, the result of an Arabian or Thoroughbred cross with other breeds. Also, one of a number of specific breeds of horse which were developed by crossing hotblood and coldblood horses to produce a more refined, but athletically strong and capable horse.

Weanling: horse six months to a year old

Yearling: horse who is one year old