Glossary of Horse Terms A-D


Aged: A mature animal, usually over eight years of age.
Aids: Signals by which the rider communicates with and controls his horse.
Natural Aids: Weight, legs, voice and hands.
Artificial Aids: These support the natural aids. Aids include spurs as a reinforcement of the leg, crop as an extension of the arm, dropped nosebands, martingales and similar tack.
Appaloosa: An American breed or type of horse originated by the Nez Perce Indians of Idaho and Washington. Appaloosas are known for their distinctive spotted color patterns. Known as App or Appy, as well.
Arabian: A breed of horse originating in the Arabian Desert that is reputed to be the oldest pure breed of horses. The majority of today’s light horse breeds have developed from the Arabian breed. Their small in stature, a refined head, close coupled body, flat croup and high tail carriage makes them very distinct. Know for their endurance, these horses can carry great weights and are known to be easy keepers. Arabians are used for both English and Western riding and are exceptional competitors in endurance.


Balance: Correct weight distribution for the movement a horse is performing. The horse must have impulsion along with flexibility and suppleness to achieve this.
Bald Face: A wide white blaze covering the majority of a horses face.
Balk: When a horse refuses to do what the rider is asking via the aids. The horse may be stubborn or just not understanding what the rider is asking.
Barn Sour: When a horse refuses to leave the stable area or another group of horses. Additionally, the horse may try to rush back to the barn of its own accord.
Barrel: The midsection of a horse.
Barrel Race: A timed event where the horse is raced around a cloverleaf pattern of barrels.
Bars: The lower portion of a horse’s jaw where the bit rests. This area is devoid of teeth.
Bay: A chestnut, sorrel or brown horse with black, legs, mane and tail.
Behind the Bit: When a horse becomes over flexed with its head toward its chest to avoid the bit.
Bit: The metal piece hanging from the bridle or headstall that goes into a horse’s mouth and where the reins are attached.
Bitting: The process of teaching a horse to understand, be willing and supple with the bit in its mouth.
Blaze: A wide white stripe marking the length of a horse’s face.
Blemish: A scar left on the horse by injury or disease. Does not limit the horse’s usefulness, but may count against the horse in the show ring.
Blue Roan: A black horse with white hairs that speckle its coat giving the appearance of a blue color.
Bolt: When a horse runs away from something in an uncontrolled manner. Also a hungry horse eating its food quickly is known to bolt its food.
Bosal, Bozal: The noseband portion of a Spanish style hackamore, typically made of rawhide and horsehair.
Break: The act of training, initially riding or gentling a horse to behave quietly under saddle.
Breed: A specific type of horse.
Breast Collar: A piece of tack, generally made of leather, that the horse wears across its chest to keep the saddle from slipping backward.
Bridle: The piece of tack that goes on a horse’s head, holding the bit or hackamore in place.
Broke: A horse that can be ridden and handled easily.
Brood Mare: A female horse kept for breeding.
Brushing: Also called interfering. When the lower leg (fetlock area) is struck by the opposite shoe or hoof.
Buck: When a horse kicks its hind legs up into the air with its front legs still on the ground.


Cadence:    The rhythmical beat of a horse’s gait. A correct gait must have an even cadence.
Camp: A stance of a horse with the front legs extended forward and the back legs stretched out behind. In some breeds, such as Arabians, this is the accepted show stance.
Canter: A 3-beat natural gait. The horse can either work on the left or right lead depending upon the direction of travel.
Cantle: The back portion of a saddle seat.
Carriage:    The way a horse holds his body; head, neck, shoulders etc.
Cast: When a horse cannot get up after laying down or falling down. Often in a stall or near a fence when the legs may be underneath the fence rails or too close to a wall to allow the horse to stand.
Cavesson: A leather noseband that keeps the horse from opening its mouth to evade the bit and to keep the tongue from going over the bit.
Change of Lead: When the horse changes the lead at a canter by one of two methods.
Simple Change: The horse slows to a trot or walk from the canter for a few steps and then begins to canter on the opposite lead.
Flying Change: The horse changes leads mid stride at a moment of suspension.
Chaps: Leather, suede or ultra suede garment to protect the rider’s legs when riding. Used in Western events and shows, as well as English riding for schooling.
Chestnut:    A horse with a red or reddish brown body with mane and tail usually to match.  Also, the oval bony growth on the inside of a horse’s leg.
Cinch: The strap that goes around the horse’s midsection to hold the saddle on. The English term for this piece of tack is a girth.
Collection: The shortening of a horse’s body length resulting from the horse flexing at the poll, raising it’s back, lowering the croup and bringing it’s hind quarters underneath itself. This results in strength for self carriage for the horse.
Colt: A male horse that has not been castrated under 4 years of age.
Conformation: The way a horse is put together or built.
Contact: The feel that the rider has through the reins, between the hands and the bit. A responsive horse is sensitive with light contact.
Contracted Heels:  A condition where the horse’s foot narrows at the heel, usually due to incorrect trimming or shoeing.
Cooler: A lightweight blanket thrown over a horse to help dry it off and cool down slowly.
Coronet Band: Where the hoof meets the hair on the leg.
Counter-Canter: Used to increase strength, balance and suppleness, this is where the horse canters in a circle on the outside lead while bent as if on the inside lead.
Cover: A breeding term referring to the stallion breeding the mare. The stallion “covers” the mare in a live breeding.
Cow-hocked: An undesirable trait where the hocks turn inward toward each other.
Cow Kick:    A quick forward kick with a hind leg.
Crest: The top of the horse’s neck where the mane grows between the poll and the withers.
Cribbing: A vice or undesirable trait where the horse holds onto something, usually a fence or stall door and sucks air. A difficult to correct habit that is learned from other horses and mentally addictive.
Croup: The area along the top of a horse’s butt to the top of it’s tail.
Crop: A short riding whip.
Cross Canter: When the horse is on one lead in the front and the other with the hind legs.
Cutter: A horse that is trained to separate one calf from the herd and keep it away.



Dam: The mother of a horse.
Dapple: Circular markings found most often on gray horses.
Dewormer: Used on a regular basis to kill worms in horses.
Diagonal:    When riding at a trot in a circle, the rider is on the correct diagonal when he rises as the  horse’s outside front leg goes forward. To change diagonals, the rider sits one beat.
Dished: Concave, referring to the profile of the horse’s head, such as that of an Arabian.
Dishing: When the horse as it moves throws its feet in an outward arc. Dishing is also called paddling.
Dock: the part of the tail that is bone.
Dorsal Stripe: A black or dark stripe down the back of a horse, from mane into tail.
Draft Horse: A type of horse bred for pulling loads. Clydesdales, Shires, Belgians, and Percherons are examples of draft horse breeds.
Dressage: A French term meaning “training” or “schooling.” Dressage principles are the foundation for many riding styles. The horse is taught to become soft, supple, balanced, forward, cadenced and obedient.
Dun: A yellowish coat color with a dorsal stripe down the horse’s back.

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