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 riding.
Balance seat: Riding with suppleness, poise, and a judicious grip to
preserve balance while on the horse.
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
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
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
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 coming.
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
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 ones.
Impulsion: Forward energy. A person marching has a lot of impulsion
compared to when walking normally.
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 horse.
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
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 feet.
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
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
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.
is always OPEN!!
Join our innovative
|Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156 fax: 301-421-9049
Boost your confidence
Build your skills
Enhance your lessons
Put Mike Smith's
40 years of
experience work for
You'll love it!