Last Updated on February 21, 2022 by Allison Price
The horse world is no different from any other sport or hobby. There are many terms and jargons to learn. There are many terms to be familiarized with, and it is important for newcomers to the horse world to know how to distinguish between meanings of words that sound very similar. The following definitions can help novices understand what is being discussed.
Foals are young horses that can be bred for either sexe. Females are called fillies, while males are called colts. A common variation is to call male children horse colts and filly youngsters filly colts. However, foals are a good choice for young horses that are still nursing. Foals are usually weaned at around four to six months of age. They are then known as yearlings until they turn one. No matter their birth date, all Thoroughbreds officially turn one year old on January 1. In the fall, yearlings turn into long yearlings and two-year olds the following year. A stallion, a mature male horse who is four years old or older, is a mare, a mature female horse of the same age. A gelding can be any castrated male horse.
Also known as uncut horses or whole horses, stallions can also be called sires. Sires are stallion offspring that have been bred. A stallion may also be called a sire if they have produced offspring. Stallions are kept at a stud farm or simply called a stud. In Thoroughbred circles, mares will often travel to the stallion’s home to breed. Pasture breeding is when a mare and a stallion are left together in a pasture. This breeds without any human intervention.
Live cover is a copulation while artificial insemination is the collection of semen from an stallion and then its introduction into a mare. This can often be done at another location, sometimes a few days later. If the foal is to become registered, Thoroughbred pregnancies must be covered. Artificial insemination is allowed by many breed associations including the American Quarter Horse Association. The average pregnancy time is approximately 11 months. However, it can vary between mares by several weeks.
Castrating a male horse is also called gelding or cutting. However, if the horse has an undescended (the testicle is not dropped into the scrotum but remains in the abdomen cavity), it can be difficult to remove. The horse may then be left with them. These horses are also known as cryptorchids, rigs or ridgelings. They’re also called proud-cut. These horses can exhibit stallion behavior and characteristics, which may or may not allow them to immunize a mare. This condition doesn’t just affect geldings; there are many successful breeding stallions that have one undescended testicle.
Even a gelding horse can be considered studdish if it displays stallion-like traits such as aggression, nipping or herding mares. A mare can also be considered mareish if she is anxious, scared, or difficult to handle. About every 21 days, mares enter heat (or season) and become sexually receptive. This happens around mid-spring. Some mares are able to remain in season almost all year. However, the spring is when the heat is most intense. The anestrous period, which is the time when the mare does NOT come into heat, usually lasts from late fall through early spring.
The terms heat and hot-blooded are different. Hot-blooded can be used to describe Thoroughbreds or Arabian horses. Warm-blooded breeds are mainly European horses that were bred to do light driving and are often seen in dressage circles. Cold-blooded horses, on the other hand, are heavier draft horses. Horses are warm-blooded mammals. These terms refer to temperament and physical characteristics and can be used in a wide range of ways.
If I’m transporting my horses from field to field, I’m putting the horses in; if they’re returning to the field, I’m putting their horses out. While bringing horses in is similar to putting horses up; putting them out is a different thing. It is called euthanizing a horse. The halter, which is either made of nylon webbing or leather, is attached to the horse’s head and allows a person to handle or lead the horse. There are three types of halters: show halter, grooming halter and field halter. Each one is designed for a specific purpose. A bridle, which is similar to a halter, supports the horse and has reins that allow him to control it. Horses may be displayed in halter classes at a show where they are not being ridden.
In-hand classes are also called non-ridden classes. Horses may be shown in a harness in some classes, and in a saddle in others. The four-inch measurement of a hand is also four inches. If a horse measures 15 hands high (or tall) from the ground, to the top of his withers (the point where the mane meets the saddle), he is considered to be either 15 hands high or 60 inches tall. This horse would measure 15.2 hands tall if he were two inches higher. The decimal number is used to indicate inches and not tenths.
There is no 15.4 horse. That horse would be 16 hands high. Finally, a useful horse is one that can change direction quickly while being ridden and is responsive and athletic. Another term that can be used to describe a pony is “Pony”. Technically, a pony refers to an equine that is no more than 14.2 inches tall. Some animals may be called ponies, however, because they are taller than others. A polo pony, for example, can be of any size. Ponying an unridden horse means that you can lead it and ride another horse. Ponies are also used to transport racehorses onto track.
Thoroughbreds, which are racehorses in general, are often referred to by the abbreviation “TB”. An OTTB Thoroughbred is one that is not on the track. This is usually a Thoroughbred who has just started race training but isn’t fast enough to win races and is now being retrained for eventing, hunting, or any other discipline. A TBX, or Thoroughbred Cross, is an animal that has one Thoroughbred parent with one of the parents of another breed.
A horse with a chip may be desirable or unfavorable. A bone chip, which is a fragment of bone or cartilage within a joint, could pose a problem. However, a microchip embedded in your neck would make it easier to identify the horse. A horse that chips or chips into horses is not a good idea. This horse will take a shorter, more choppy stride just before a jump, instead of leaving the ground smooth and in stride to clear the obstacle.
Even people who have been working with horses for many years will disagree on the meanings of terms. Anyone who has worked in the horse industry for a while could come up with an exception or correction to any of these common stable terms.
Listening to horses enthusiasts from different disciplines and asking questions about any that are not understood is the best way to learn more about the special vocabulary used long-time horsemen.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!