The surface of the incisor teeth that come in contact with the teeth of the lower jaw. The shape of the table can be used as an indicator of a horse’s age.
A cross-country jumping obstacle that consists of a man-made dirt mound with a flat top that is generally three strides wide.
Anything that people put on a horse to control or guide them. A halter, bridle, martingale, for instance, are all examples of tack.
The process of putting tack (saddle, bridle, etc) on your horse in preparation to go riding.
A separate room or shed at a barn that is used to store tack. It’s a good idea to have the feed room separate from the tack room to keep rodents from eating your leather.
A trailer that is pulled directly behind the towing vehicle. It’s attached to a hitch that is welded to the frame of the towing vehicle. They are commonly referred to as “bumper pulls” but in no way should the hitch be attached directly to the bumper.
A direct extension of the spinal column. It includes the dock, tailbones and tail hair.
Done for shows to make the tail look neater and more presentable.
A roping term for the rider responsible for roping the hind legs of the calf.
When a horse’s tail gets itchy, they rub it on a fence, tree or stall wall to scratch it. The itchiness can have a number of reasons - soap residue, worms, dirt or dry skin - but the result is always the loss of hair at the dock (top) of the tail. Rubbing can cause permanent damage if left unchecked.
A rigid device used on a horse whose tail has been nicked to reset it at an unnaturally high position. Most popular in gaited horses such as Saddlebreds.
A bandage or neoprene device specifically designed for the job of protecting the tail from rubbing, trailer rides, or keeping it clean and out of the way during birth or other procedures.
Take with the hand
Not as extreme a motion as it sounds. Refers to a rider squeezing the reins to apply increased pressure on the bars of the horse’s mouth through the bit. When done right, the hand hardly actually moves at all.
More commonly called Betadine. A mild form of iodine that is good for cleaning wounds and treating surface infections.
The leather hood that attaches to the front of Western stirrups to protect the rider’s foot from brush.
A parasite that can inhabit a horse’s intestines and potentially cause colic. Resistant to many dewormers, owners must buy the correct dewormer for the job. It’s unusual for horses to have a problem with them but depending on where you live it is possible.
A circular bit used on young horses that attaches to the headstall, with the upper half going in the horse’s mouth and the lower half under his jaw. Also known as a yearling bit or colt bit.
A number that is indelibly marked on a horse’s lip for identification and/or registration purposes. Predominantly a practice used in thoroughbreds for identification. The numbers used can also tell you the horse’s age.
Total Digestible Nutrients
An equestrian vs. cow sport in which three horse and riders must cut three designated cows out of a herd of 30 and move them into a pen at the opposite end of the arena within a certain amount of time. The team that gets all three cows in the pen in fastest time wins.
A common rodeo event in which two riders work together to rope a steer. The cow is given a running head start before the riders come after him. Rider #1- the header - sets out to rope the cow’s head while Rider #2 - the heeler - ropes the cow’s back feet. The team that is able to pull the cow tautly between their two horses in the fastest time wins.
A process used on breeding farms to see if a mare is in heat and ready to breed. It can be done in a variety of ways but usually involves exposing a mare to a stallion from over a fence, stall wall or teasing chute.
The person at a competition whose job is to make sure all the rules of the presiding association are followed and that the jump courses are correctly built. Loosely referred to as the TD.
By 9 months, a foal has all his baby teeth - 12 incisors, 12 premolars). Over the next 3 months he’ll grow his first set of permanent molars. It takes four or five years for all the baby teeth to be replaced by adult teeth. An adult horse has 36 teeth; 12 each of incisors, premolars, and molars. Horses grind their food in a sideways action so their teeth wear unevenly, making regular dental check ups important.
Temperature of a Horse
A healthy horse has a temperature between 99.5 and 100.5. Be aware that the temperature of a horse at work may rise by as much as 5 degrees. The most accurate way to take his temperature is with a rectal thermometer, either digital or analog (with numbers).
Temperature, leg & hoof
In case of injury or lameness, it’s often necessary to feel if your horse’s leg or hoof feels unusually warm. There’s no real accurate way to measure this temperature so you have to go by feel, making knowing what his legs and hooves feel like on a normal day extremely important.
A dressage move in which the horse performs lead changes at every canter stride or other specific intervals, such as every second or third stride.
The measure of speed of the horse’s gaits.
A soft, fluid-filled enlargement of the digital flexor tendon sheath. A true tendinous windpuff is usually relatively harmless, limited to just above the pastern and rarely causes lameness.
Tough, fibrous but elastic white cords that connect muscle to bone. They also support the joints.
A protective leg covering that go on the horse’s front legs, either open or closed fronts, that support the tendons and protect them from stress or injury.
Inflammation of the tendon from irritation, overwork or injury.
An eventing term referring to the obligatory ten-minute stop after Phase C of the speed and endurance phase of a traditionally formatted three-day event. During this time ice or cold water is applied as necessary to cool the horse down and a vet must approve the horse as fit before it can continue.
The natural action of the foreleg of a Peruvian Paso when performing the paso gait.
A disease that is fatal to both humans and horses. Caused by bacteria entering through a wound, particularly a puncture wound. Treatment is typically unsuccessful and since vaccinations are readily available an ounce of prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure.
The most famous of the U. S. endurance rides, the Tevis Cup stretches for 100 miles from Nevada to California over the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Winning times are generally in the 11 - 12 hour range.
Officially called hippotherapy (therapy from horse handling and riding) there are over 550 certified therapeutic riding centers nationwide. It increases muscle tone, improves balance and coordination, and can help children and adults with any number of conditions including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy.
The use of high frequency sound waves, far above the range for human hearing, to promote healing by breaking down unwanted tissue and increasing circulation.
A diagnostic technique where infrared radiation emitted from the skin’s surface projects a colored image on a monitor, with the different colors relating to body temperatures. Areas of trauma or injury will project a higher temperature.
The nictating inner membrane that extends from the corner of the eye to cover the eyeball. It’s usually only visible if it’s become inflamed from infection or irritation.
A level of dressage competition that requires the horse to demonstrate extended, collected and medium gaits. Movements in the specific tests, such as half-pass and 8-meter circles at the canter, require more impulsion, straightness and acceptance of the bit than in the lower levels.
A fluid-filled swelling that appears just above the hock on either side caused by trauma or strain. Most commonly seen in jumpers or draft horses, it is mostly just a cosmetic problem and rarely causes lameness.
An equestrian sport in which the horse and rider compete in dressage, stadium jumping and cross-country jumping. The traditional format also has an endurance phase on cross-country day that includes roads and tracks as well as steeplechase, but the shorter format that eliminates this phase is now the FEI standard. The scores from all three are combined and the person with the lowest score wins. (Scores consist of penalty points, hence the reason the lowest one wins.) Also more commonly known as combined training.
Any horse that can walk, trot and canter.
Refers to a rider's position while sitting in the saddle (thus three points of contact - his seat and both legs) as opposed to two-point, where only the rider’s legs are in contact with the horse.
Refers to a class in a Saddlebred show where only three gaits - the walk, trot and canter - are required instead of the flashier five gaits.
The strap on a bridle or halter that runs under the throat and buckles on the left hand side. It’s buckled loosely enough to allow plenty of room for the horse to breath but tight enough to prevent the tack from being pulled off over the head.
A dressage term that refers to an unblocked, connected state that allows the horses energy to flow from the hindquarters forward. Requires that the horse be supple, elastic and responsive to the rider’s aids.
Throw a shoe
To lose a horseshoe by accident.
Said of a rider who has involuntarily dismounted or temporarily separated from their horse. Also can refer to a horse that has been forced to the ground by its handlers for medical treatment or other (hopefully good) reasons.
A hoof disease caused by bacteria or fungus that thrive in damp, dark, dirty conditions. (Hence the reason why cleaning your horse’s hooves are so important.) If untreated, it can cause lameness.
Thumbprint of the Prophet
A dimple or indent in the neck or shoulder of a horse, believed to be a sign of good luck. Legend has it that the mark was made by the thumb of the Prophet Mohammed. Occurs predominantly in Arabs but can be seen in other breeds on rare occasions. Also called the Prophet’s thumb.
The inner and often larger of the two long bones of the hind leg between the hock and the fetlock.
A bloodsucking insect that can cause any number of diseases including Lyme disease. Popular locations on a horse for ticks to feed are the head, neck (especially under the mane), ears and tail. Riders in areas that have ticks should take great care in constantly checking those areas for any infestation. While they’re at it, they should check themselves as well since ticks affect humans too.
Tied in knees or hocks
Refers to a horse whose tendons and canon bones are too close together, giving the leg a round look rather than the normal flat look. It is a conformational flaw that can lead to soundness problems.
The Western version of a standing martingale, a strap that runs from the noseband to the girth (or cinch in this case) to limit how high the horse can raise his head. Since Western bridles typically don’t have a noseband, an extra piece of equipment that looks loosely like a bosal is required to be put on under the bridle to serve the same function.
A rope tied between two trees for the purpose of attaching horses lead lines to it as a means of holding horses outdoors when a corral or barn is unavailable. If possible, you alternate tying horses first to one side, then the other to give them more room.
A roping term referring to securing the feet of a roped calf with a piggin' string.
Dark, horizontal stripes around the knees and hocks that look like a tiger or zebra stripe. Usually seen on duns and other horses with primitive markings.
The fence separating two jousters.
More commonly referred to as jousting. A Mediaeval sport where two mounted knights galloped towards each other, separated by a wall or tilt, and tried to strike each other with their lances.
A hurdle or other jumping obstacle made of wood.
A British term referring to a horse that is a clumsy jumper, especially over rails and therefore tends to break a lot of them. Also, a horse that is skilled in weaving his way through a burnt out forest.
The period of time that a competitor is given to complete a course before incurring time penalties. In lower levels of eventing, there are also penalty points for going too far under the time allowed (going too fast). Also called the optimum time.
In Western competitions, any event in which the fastest time wins, including barrel racing, calf roping or steer wrestling.
A penalty given to a rider when he exceeds the time allowed to complete a course.
The period of time, usually twice the time allowed, that a rider is given to complete a course or be eliminated.
A type of grass hay of average nutritional value but has the added bonus of being relatively free of dust and mold.
An official color recognized by the American Paint Association. To qualify, a horse must be white with white crossing over the back with a dark color covering at least one flank. All four lower legs must be white and the face must be a solid color with a blaze, snip, strip or star. Overall the spots should be round or oval, with no significant irregularity.
A v-shaped extension of a horseshoe used to help hold the shoe on in cases where nails are not enough.
A crack in the hoof wall at the toe, either starting from the bottom up or the coronary band and heading down.
When viewed from the front, the horse’s toes point slightly towards each other, causing an odd way of moving. Depending on the degree, it can be corrected by proper shoeing.
When viewed from the front, the horse’s toes point away from each other. Depending on the degree, it can cause the forelegs to swing away from each other and cause stress to the leg and joints.
A gait unique to the Icelandic horse that is an amazingly comfortable running walk at speeds up to 20 mph.
A mild Pelham bit with short shanks that is available with a number of different mouthpieces, such as broken or straight bar.
A horse who evades the bit by putting his tongue over, rather than under, the bit.
When a horse evades the bit by hanging its tongue outside the corner of his mouth.
A cloth or leather strap commonly used in racing to tie the tongue down, thus prohibiting the horse from putting his tongue over the bit or “swallowing his tongue” (blocking his airway with his own soft palate due to an anatomical flaw).
To decoratively carve leather using a stamp (by machine or hand); a common sight on Western saddles.
Traditionally, a long handled file used to smooth off the rough edges of a horse’s molar teeth. Today, many equine dentists use power tools rather than manual files.
The uppermost slot that the reins can be attached to a curb bit.
A tall, English riding boot with a band of differently colored leather around the top. They are part of the formal attire worn by members of a Hunt. Traditionally, women’s boots have a black leg and black patent leather top while men’s boots have a black leg and brown band. Tops are earned and are a status symbol, seen predominantly in America more than Britain.
The visual line created by the horse’s neck, back and croup. The shape of the topline depends on the breed but all normal, working horses should have a well-muscled topline to ensure a healthy back.
Acronym for temperature, pulse and respiration, the basic information you need to know about your horse when he is healthy so you can also tell when something is wrong.
A type of body clip that only removes hair from underneath the neck, the chest, and straight across the lower half of the barrel all the way to the hindquarters. Hair remains on the legs to protect them from getting nicked up, as well as on the crest of the neck and along the withers, back and hips. This way the horse’s back can stay warm and enjoy the extra protection of his natural coat but will be able to keep is body temperature down by releasing heat through the shaved areas.
Inorganic elements necessary for a horse’s body to function properly and maintain overall health. Usually they are found in sufficient amount in the horse’s natural food but can be added my means of supplements if necessary. The essential trace minerals are phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium and chlorine. Others like zinc, iron and selenium are needed in lesser amounts.
A racing venue. Also, a direction from a coach or judge such as, “track right”. It can also refer to where the horse’s hooves fall, as in the track along the rail, or moving forward with a bend in the horse’s body, which means you are working on two tracks.
To ride a horse outside the confines of a ring, either on a pre-established track or just across open country.
To transport horses from one place to another. Also, as a noun, the vehicle you put them in to move them. And finally, an extened heel of a horseshoe.
One who teaches horses and riders how to perform at the best of their ability.
A group of horses and riders all being coached by one trainer or a trainer and their assistants, typically with the goal of competing and winning at shows. Students at a training barn, as opposed to a school, tend to show more and be more focused and disciplined in their pursuit of excellence. They could all board in a larger facility or control and entire facility for their exclusive use.
A lower level of dressage competition where the horse should move forward freely at a consistent rhythm. The horse should be supple and accept the bit with relaxation through simple, basic movements.
The (hopefully smooth and intentional) change from one gait to another. An upward transition means you are moving into a faster gait while a downward transition means you’re moving into a slower one or even a halt.
Refers to a show jump course with sharp turns between the jumps.
A Western term referring to a horse with the undesirable habit of loping in the front and trotting in the back to achieve a slow lope rather than being truly collected and working off his haunches.
A dressage move that can be performed at the trot or canter. The horse should be slightly bent around the inside leg as the shoulder stays on the rail and the hindquarters move to the inside, maintaining an angle of approximately 35 degrees. The body is bent in the same direction in which it is moving. The horse’s outside legs pass and cross in front of the inside ones.
An a-shaped frame that can be drug behind a horse or dog and transport people or supplies.
In show jumping, it refers to a complete round. As in, “Mary, there are two more trips before your turn.”
A type of stadium jump with three bars in ascending heights. Each bar has its own set of standards and they can be spaced closer together or wider apart depending on the level of class. They may be no further than 12” wider in total than they are tall in any recognized show. (For instance, if the highest bar is three feet high, the entire jump can be no wider than four feet wide.)
Any trio of three important races. In the U. S., it consists of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. To date, only 11 horses have won all three.
A jumping obstacle that consists of three oxers with one or two strides between them.
A two-beated gait that’s faster than a walk but slower than a canter. In the trot, the horse’s diagonal pairs of legs move together - for instance, the right front and left hind move as a pair. A rider can either post the trot - moving up and down in rhythm to the trot - or sit it. Sitting requires a higher level of suppleness than most beginning or even intermediate riders have.
True to type
Said of a horse that shows the typical characteristics of the breed such as size, conformation and temperament.
Refers to a horse that has had a plastic tube put up his nasal cavity to get directly into the stomach to deliver oil (such as in the case of colic) or medicine.
Said of a horse whose loins are drawn up tightly behind his ribs. This is usually a condition caused by overwork, dehydration or underfeeding.
Turn on the forehand
A move in which the horse pivots his hindquarters around his (relatively) stationary inside front leg. It is performed at the halt as the horse moves in a walking sequence without actually moving forward.
Turn on the haunches
A move in which the horse pivots his front legs around his (relatively) stationary inside hind leg. It is performed from the halt and requires the horse to really sit on his hindquarters to make it work.
The appearance of both horse and rider. For instance, at a show you want your turnout to be immaculate, with clean tack and clean, neatly pressed clothes. It can also refer to the time your horse gets to be in a large paddock or pasture on his own, free to walk, roll or run at will.
A heavy duty, usually waterproof blanket that is specifically designed to stay secure even if your horse wears it out in pasture.
The act of taking your horse out of the stall and setting him free in a paddock or pasture to give him the chance to relax and just be a horse.
A rare occurrence in horses since, for the sake of both mare and foal, when a veterinarian finds two fertilized eggs they will generally remove one. Otherwise, the mare will usually abort both fetuses but from time to time there is the rare birth of healthy twins.
One of many causes of colic.
A snaffle bit with a twisted mouthpiece. The tightness of the twist depends on the severity of the bit (the tighter the twist, the more severe the bit).
To restrain a horse humanely using any number of methods. A shoulder twitch, for instance, means to pinch a thick fold of skin at the shoulder and twist slightly, drawing the horse’s attention away from whatever you want to distract him from (clipping, medical procedure, mane pulling, etc). You can also grasp his upper lip with your hand and twist slightly, or use a specific tool that is also called a twitch to accomplish the same results. Using a twitch releases endorphins to help calm a horse rather than fear or intimidation.
A three-day event, consisting of dressage, cross-country and stadium jumping, that takes place in just two days.
The traditional position used to jump. The rider stands in the stirrups with their weight evenly balanced. The rider’s “third point” - their buttocks - is off the horse’s back, allowing the rider to freely follow the movement of the horse.
An extremely serious condition that affects the horse’s muscles that occurs primarily as a result of muscle energy depletion. Symptoms include profuse sweating, dark colored urine, a stiff/stilted gait particularly in the hindquarters and a general unwillingness to move.
Refers to a horse that serves a purpose rather than a specific breed or bloodline. For instance, a hunter is a type that can include horses of any breed.