Horse Terminology

For readers who are not horse people here are some common terms used frequently in articles, blogs, and websites about horses. These are brief explanations only; each could easily have an entire article for a more in depth definition.

Stallion – An intact male adult horse.

Mare – A female horse – a term usually used for age 3 years and older.

Broodmare – A mare used for breeding.

Gelding – A male horse that has been castrated. (The one preferred by most amateur riders because of the lack of hormones.)

Colt – A young male horse, usually age 2 or younger, and usually still intact.

Filly – A young female horse, usually age 2 or younger.

Foal – A baby horse that is still nursing (at his/her Dam’s side).

Dam – A horse’s mother.

Sire – A horse’s father.

Weanling – A baby horse that is no longer at his Dam’s side (nursing) and under 1 year old.

Yearling – A horse that is one year old (this is usually counted from Jan. 1 the year following their birth no matter when the actual date was). Young horses are frequently referred to as 2 year olds or 3 year olds, but after that they are just a stallion, mare, or gelding and considered an adult horse.

Gaits – the paces of a horse. Warmbloods have three – walk (4 beat), trot (2 beat), and canter (3 beat).

Warmblood – this is a term used to describe a horse that is one of the many breeds of horses from various regions and countries around the world that have their own breed guidelines. All were crosses of a hot blood breed (usually Thoroughbred- TB) and a cold blood breed (draft horses) somewhere in their past. These horses are primarily used for the sports of Hunter, Jumper, or

Dressage – They are usually very athletic horses with an even temperament that can be ridden by most riders.

Hunter – the sport of jumping horses over fences similar to those found in fox hunting, which is where the sport came from. Horses for this sport need to have very steady, rhythmical gaits with a lower and longer way of moving than the Jumper or Dressage horse.

Jumper – the sport of jumping horses over jumps that are higher and with more complicated patterns than the Hunter – also called Stadium Jumping – this is an Olympic Sport.

Dressage – this sport stresses riding horses according to a specific system to develop obedience, flexibility and balance. There are tests of increasing difficulty for the horse and rider that are patterns ridden in a rectangular arena. This is also an Olympic sport and the part that is ridden to music (called Freestyle) is the most popular with spectators.

Cross Country – this sport is like Fox Hunting without the fox and the rest of the pack. The course is outside and the jumps and obstacles are natural and solid. This sport requires a brave horse and rider and is the most dangerous to both.

Eventing – a combination of Jumping, Dressage, and Cross Country. The horses in this sport need to be very athletic and versatile.

Sport Horse – a horse that is suitable for the Olympic sports of Dressage, Jumping, and Eventing, as well as Hunters.

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