Aids:  Messages or cues, you use to tell the horse what you want him to do.

American Cream Draft:  A Draft Cross that's also a Palomino.

Appaloosa:  A horse with white polka-dots, or spots.

Arabian:  This is one of the oldest, most established breeds in the world, dating back thousands of
years.  Arabians have refined, elegant heads and large nostrils, and they carry their tails arched
and high.  They are used for many types of riding but especially excel at racing and long-distance

Balance seat:  Riding with suppleness, poise, and a judicious grip to preserve balance while on the

Bars:  The toothless part of the horse's jaw where the bit rests.

Bascule:  The arc the horse makes as he goes over a jump.

Bay:  Reddish brown or brown body with black points, which are the lower legs, mane, and tail.

Beat:  When one or more of a horse's feet hit the ground.

Bell boots:  When a horse overreaches, his back feet hit the heels of his front feet.  To protect the
front feet in such horses, bell boots are used.

Billets:  Girth straps, attached to the girth of the saddle by buckles.

Bit:  The metal mouthpiece that rests on the horse's bars and is used for control.

Black:  A black horse is really black, all over, with no white markings.

Blaze:  A wide swath of white on the face that runs from above the eyes to the nose.

Blue roan:  A blue roan has a black and white coat with a bluish tinge.

Bridle:  The bridle includes the headstall, which goes on the horse's head; the bit, the metal piece
that goes into the horse's mouth; and the reins, which enable you to steer the horse.

Brown:  A horse that is almost black, but not quite, or brown/black.

Canter:  A three-beat gait.  It's faster than a trot, and it is a natural gait.

Cantle:  The back of the saddle.

Cavalletti:  Poles raised off the ground, usually from three to six inches, that are used to help
prepare horses and riders for jumping.

Check:  A sharp, upward snapping motion with the reins.

Chip:  What a horse does when he gets too close to a jump before actually jumping.  Also called
popping or chipping in.

Close:  To pull gently on a rein, sometimes by simply closing your fingers.

Colic:  Colic is a sign of abdominal pain, which in a horse can be caused by many things, such as
overeating grain.  A horse with colic will exhibit discomfort in many ways; he may paw, nod his head
toward his middle, or thrash on the ground.

Collection:  Asking the horse to assume a rounded, more agile posture.

Coming into hand:  The horse is in your complete control.

Conformation:  The horse's basic structure, or how the horse is "put together."  The gait of a horse
is determined by conformation.  The more sloping the shoulders and pasterns, which generally
should be the same angle, the smoother the ride.

Crescendo:  A steady increase in intensity or force.

Crest release:  Moving your hands forward, following the crest of the horse's neck, as he jumps.

Cribber:  A horse that hooks his front teeth on something, usually the edge of his stall door, arches
his neck, and appears to suck in wind.  This is a bad habit some horses develop.

Crop:  A riding stick, for use when leg aids don't get the desired response from the horse.

Cross-cantering:  Also known as a disunited canter, this occurs when a horse is on one lead in the
front and the opposite lead in the back.

Croup:  The top of the horse's rump.

Dark bay:  A very dark brown that's almost black.

Diagonal jump:  A type of jump in which one end of the jumping pole is higher than the other.

Diagonals:  Matching a trotting post to the horse's outside shoulder movement.  When the horse's
outside shoulder moves forward, the rider posts forward.  When the inside shoulder moves forward,
the rider sits.

Draft horse:  Huge horse bred to pull heavy loads.  They have a reputation for being calm and
good natured, which accounts for why Drafts are known as "cold blooded."

Dressage:  Dressage is a French word that means "schooling."  Horses are trained to perform
complex maneuvers by slight movements of the riders' hands, legs, and weight.  Many riders
worldwide compete in dressage competitions.

Drive:  Forward impulsion.

English saddle:  Style of saddle needed for riding disciplines such as dressage, jumping, fox
hunting, and other equestrian activities.

Evasion:  When a horse doesn't do what you ask or develops bad habits to avoid work.

Farrier:  The person who trims hooves and shoes horses.

Gait:  Way in which a horse moves forward.

Gelding:  A castrated horse.

Girth:  The strap that goes under the horse and connects to both sides of the saddle.  However,
girth can also mean where your legs fall when you're mounted and correctly balanced.

Give:  To release the tension in the reins slightly.

Gray:  Gray horses have white hair or white and black hairs on dark skin, with dark muzzles.  There
are many shades of gray, ranging from nearly white to very dark gray.

Half halt:  Half of a halt, used to refocus a horse's attention or to signal that a new command is

Half pass:  A dressage movement in which a horse moves forward on a diagonal by crossing both
front leg over front leg and hind leg over hind leg.

Half seat:  A slightly forward sitting posture in which you flex your back, knees, and ankles to
absorb shock.

Halt:  A stop.

Halter:  A halter goes on the horse's head and is used with a lead rope to control the horse while
you're on the ground.  Most are made of leather or nylon.

Hands:  Horses are measured in hands, from the ground to the highest point of the withers.  One
hand equals 4 inches; a horse 14.2 hands high is 58 inches tall.  Horses 14.2 hands and smaller are
considered ponies.

Hanoverian:  A Hanoverian is a type of warmblood developed in the eighteenth century.  The
breed is very popular in Germany.  Generally somewhat heavier than other types of warmbloods,
they are especially strong in the shoulders and quarters.

Hard-mouth:  Said of a horse whose mouth nerves have been dulled, requiring a lot of pressure to
get her to do what you want.  It results from improper riding, training, use of too harsh a bit, or all of
the above.

Hog back:  A type of jump consisting of three elements, with the middle one higher than the outside

Impulsion:  Forward energy.  A person marching has a lot of impulsion compared to when walking

Jog:  The trot, to Western riders.

Jumping standards:  The upright or vertical poles with a base on them; they have holes in them
where jumping cups can be attached.  The jumping cups are where the jumping poles rest.

Left rein:  Obviously, this refers to the left rein.  But if your instructor says to you, "Trot out left
rein," it means you should trot counterclockwise.  The left rein is thus on the inside of the circle.

Leg yield:  When a horse moves laterally away from the pressure applied by a rider's leg.

Mare:  A female horse more than three years old.

Morgan:  Morgans are an especially elegant and attractive breed with smaller ears, a nicely crested
neck, and sloping shoulders.  Many have a long, full, black mane and tail.  Compact and powerful,
with a sleek and noble appearance, the breed evolved from a stallion named Figure that was bred
by a schoolmaster in Vermont named Justin Morgan.  Morgans excel in a variety of sports; they are
used for driving, pulling, and riding.

Mounting block:  A box or stepping stool that makes it easier to reach the stirrup and mount the

Near side:  Always the left side of the horse.

Off side:  Always the right side of the horse.

On the bit:  See Collection   

Oxer:  A type of jump consisting of two vertical elements set close together, with the height usually
matching the depth.

Palomino:  A horse ranging in color from pale cream to the color of a gold coin.  The Palomino has
a very light mane and tail, with few dark hairs mixed in.

Pommel:  The raised area at the top front of a saddle.

Pop:  See Chip.

Post:  To rhythmically lift out of your seat with the movement of the horse.

Progression of the aids:  The process of applying an aid or aids in ascending order of severity
and with progressive intensity until a horse responds as you wish.

Pulse:  To squeeze and release with both legs simultaneously.

Quarter Horse:  The most popular breed in the United States and bred initially on the East Coast,
Quarter Horses are thought to have originated from crossing Thoroughbreds with wild Mustangs.  
They were bred for acceleration power, enabling them to race a quarter mile.  Many school horses
are Quarter Horses.

Quitting:  A horse stopping in front of a jump.

Rating the horse to the jump:  Adjusting the horse's stride and putting him in the correct spot to
take a jump.

Rising to the trot:  Also known as posting to the trot.  See Post.

Roll top:  A jump in a half-round shape.

Set:  To position your hands in one spot and apply steady, even pressure on the bit with both reins,
but without pulling back.

Sorrel:  A chestnut-colored, or reddish-brown, horse.

Spread:  A single jump consisting of, typically, three or four barriers.

Stallion:  An uncastrated male horse.

Star:  A white diamond shape on the forehead.

Stirrup:  Part of a saddle that hangs from the stirrup bar and provides a place for you to put your

Stirrup bar:  The metal piece under the saddle flap to which the stirrup leather is attached.

Stirrup iron:  Part of a stirrup on which you place your feet.

Stirrup leather:  Part of a stirrup that connects the stirrup to the saddle.

Stockings:  White marks that extend above the fetlock, but not above the knee.

Strawberry roan:  Also known as a roaned chestnut, this horse has a chestnut base coat and a
sprinkling of white hairs.

Stride:  When all four feet have hit the ground once.

Stripe:  A thin white marking on the face that runs from forehead to muzzle.

Thoroughbred:  Perhaps the most common breed of horse in the world, Thoroughbreds are best
known for their speed and elegance.  Most horses on the race track are Thoroughbreds, although
the breed also excels in jumping and dressage.  Because they are generally peppy and feistier than
other horses, such as drafts, they are considered "hot blooded."

Trim:  Hooves continuously row and routinely need trimming by a farrier, typically about every eight
weeks.  In warm months, however, when the hooves grow faster, trimming every four to six weeks
might be necessary.

Trot:  A two-beat gait, usually faster than a walk and slower than a canter.

Two-point seat:  See Half seat.

Vertical:  A simple, vertical jump.

Warmblood:  Generally speaking, any horse that's a cross between a cold-blooded (docile) and
hot-blooded (feisty) horse would be a warmblood.  But there's also a breed of horse known as the
Warmblood.  They have been carefully developed to produce a horse for competitive use.  Types
include the Dutch Warmblood, the Swedish Warmblood, and the Trakehner.

Western saddle:  A working saddle, traditionally used on ranches and for working cattle,
characterized by a horn at the pommel where ropes are tied.

Withers:  The ridge between the horse's shoulder bones.

Wolf teeth:  Teeth that appear in front of the molars.  They're removed if they interfere with the bit.

Worming paste:  A pasty product that comes in a tube and is squirted into a horse's mouth
periodically to control internal parasites, which are one of the most common and potentially serious
health problems affecting horses.  If horses aren't wormed, parasites can cause a variety of
problems, ranging from weight loss to anemia to deadly colic.        
Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156          fax: 301-421-9049