Glossary of Equine Terms

At the Horse Show

Attire: Rider's clothes

Barrel Racing: Standard gymkhana event. Cloverleaf pattern. The fastest time wins.

Calf Roping: A timed event where a rider catches a calf by throwing a loop of rope from a lariat around its neck, dismounts from the horse, runs to the calf, and restrains it by tying three legs together, in as short a time as possible.

Cross country: Includes events such as hunter trials that are timed and ridden at speed over natural fixed fences.

Cutting: A cutting horse and rider work as a team demonstrating the horse's athleticism and ability to handle cattle during a ​2 1⁄2 minute performance.

Dressage - A french word for training. Horse performs at increasing levels of performance in execution of various gaits and movements

Driving Pleasure: Based on how well the horse drives. They must have a nice gait, with the ideals of the breed in mind, to do well. A lame or naughty horse or pony will not do well in this class because it is not a "pleasure" for the person driving. Not judged on the handlers ability.

Driving Reinsmanship: Judged on how well the handler is at driving their horse. A pattern is usually involved as well as working on the rail.

Equitation: The art of riding horse back correctly; there are three main styles of equitation: hunter seat, saddle seat, and stock seat.

Flag Race: A gymkhana event in which competitors have to remove separately the small flags placed on the top of individual poles; the winner removes all the flags in the least amount of time

Gymkhana: Timed games on horseback with specific patterns and rules

Halter: The horse is judged by its conformation based on the breed standard. The class usually involves walking and trotting your animal to view tracking (the way it moves) and squaring up for the judge to evaluate the horses conformation overall

Hunt Seat Equitation: A performance class in which the rider is judged on basic position in the saddle, legs, seat, and hands in a hunt seat saddle and on the use of aids, individual and group work

Hunter Hack: Class in which a horse and rider are called upon to go over two jumps individually and then perform work on the flat as part of a group

Hunter Under Saddle: one of the most common English riding classes, Under Saddle has the riders show their horses at three gaits without any jumps involved.

Judge: Impartial person hired or appointed by the show management to evaluate the performance of exhibitors at a 4-H horse show

Longe Line: A web line; about twenty to thirty feet, used in training and exercising a horse; a handler stands in the center and the horse travels around the circumference at the walk, trot and canter

Polo: A team sport where players use a long-handled mallet to hit a ball through the opposing team’s goal, all while mounted.

Ranch riding: The horse is judged on its ability to work at a forward, working speed while performing required and optional maneuvers. The ranch riding horse should simulate a horse riding outside the confines of an arena and reflect the versatility, attitude and movement of a working horse.

Ranch Sorting: A team of two riders on horseback against the clock. The team is required to sort numbered cattle from one pen to the other in the correct order

Reining: Western event to demonstrate a high degree of a horse's responsiveness to his rider based on riding patterns

Showmanship: The horse is shown in hand and the horse's grooming and presentation and the skill of the handler are evaluated rather than the conformation of the horse. A pattern is usually involved, and the scoring is mainly done on how well the handler and horse complete the pattern as well as the condition of the horse.

Show jumping: A timed jumping event, where participants are scored on how quickly they complete the jumps in the course, and how many (if any) they knock down.

Steer Wrestling: A horse-mounted rider chases a steer, drops from the horse to the steer, then wrestles the steer to the ground by grabbing its horns and pulling it off-balance so that it falls to the ground.

Team Penning: Requires a team of three riders on horseback to separate three specifically identified cattle from a herd of 30, and put them into a 16' x 24' pen through a 10' opening, at the opposite end of the arena.

Team Roping: The class involves a steer and two mounted riders. The first roper, ropes the front of the steer, usually around the horns, but it is also legal for the rope to go around the neck, or go around one horn and the nose. The second roper, ropes the steer by its hind feet after the first roper has turned the steer, with a five-second penalty assessed to the end time if only one leg is caught.

Trail class: A class in which horses must work on a loose rein through and over obstacles.

Three-day eventing - A combined training competition completed over three consective days; consits of a dressage test, a cross-country section, and a show jumping event

Walk/Trot: The horse is ridden in the show ring and judged at only the walk and trot both ways of the ring.

Western Horsemanship: A class in which the rider is judged on seat, hands, ability to control and show the horse; judges may assign an individual pattern

Western Pleasure: Class in which the western type horse is ridden in the show ring and judged at a walk, trot, and lope both ways of the ring on a loose rein

Whoa: The command to stop or stand; when repeated softly, it means to slow down; may also mean attention.

Working Cow Horse: Requires the horse and rider combination to work a single live cow in an arena. The horse performs specific maneuvers that include circling the cow, turning it in a specified manner, and performing a reining pattern.

Colors and Markings


Bay: Body color in which the coat is dark red to yellowish brown in color and the mane, tail, and lower limbs are black. Black on the limbs is referred to as black points.

Black: Body color where the skin, mane, tail and body hair of the horse are black.

Buckskin: Diluted bay coar color; a form of dun with yellowish or gold body color, black mane and tail and black on the lower legs

Chestnut: Brown hair and points with wide variation from dark reddish brown to light golden brown; mane and tail should be close to coat color

Dun: Body color yellowish or gold, mane and tail are black or brown; has dorsal stripe and usually zebra stripes on legs and transverse stripe over withers

Grey: Coat color is dark, the eyes are pigmented, and the body hair is a mixture of white and colored hairs; the white becomes more predominant with each change of coat or as the horse ages

White: the horse must have a completely white coat, mane, and tail, and its skin must be pink.

Palomino: A color, breed, or type of horse in which the coat color is yellow to golden and the mane and tail are white to cream

Pinto: also a breed of horse, the paint coloring is often a horse whose coat is two or three different colors. Variations include black and white, brown and white, palomino and white, or, for example of tricolor, bay, black, and white.

Sorrel: A body color of red or copper red; mane and tail are usually the same color as the body, but may be flaxen

Face markings

Blaze: A bald white marking covering the forehead (but not the eyes or nostrils) and extending down the face covering the width of the nasal bones

Snip: Face marking; white area between nostrils; size and shape vary

Bald-faced: A wide blaze blanketing most of the face; the white can extend out and around the eyes and down to the upper lip and around the nostrils

Star: White marking of varied size on the forehead

Stripe: White marking from the horse's forehad to his nose

Leg Markings

Coronet: Leg marking in which white is found on the coronet

Ermine spot: Ermine spots on a horse are black or dark spots that appear in white markings just above the hoof. Also called distal spots.

Half-pastern: Leg marking that includes only half the pastern above the coronet

Pastern: Leg marking where the white covers the entire pastern

Sock: White area on leg usually extending from coronet up to the middle of the cannon bone. (Also called half-stocking)

Stocking: White area on the leg, usually extending from the coronet up to the knee or hock

Body Markings

Dorsal Stripe: A body marking that is a continuouis black, brown or dun-colored stripe that runs down the back of the horse from mane to tail; also called eel stripe

Roan: Coat color; white hairs are interspersed with colored ones in an even mixture; if the base color is bay, the horse is bay roan; chestnut, red roan; black, blue roan

Conformation and Horse Anatomy

Ankle - The area that extends from the coronet to and including the fetlock.

Barrel - The area of the horse's body between the forelegs and the loins.

Bars - In the horse's mouth, the fleshy area between the front and back teeth, where the bit rests.

Blemish - A permanent mark or scar made by either an injury or disease. Examples of blemishes include curbs and girth galls.

Bone - The ratio of the bone to the horse's weight. The measurement of the bone is taken around the leg, just below the knee or hock. This ratio determines the horse's ability to carry weight; therefore, a light-boned horse will be limited a in weight-carrying capacity.

Calf-kneed - A conformation fault in which the foreleg is bowed back at the knee. It strains the tendons running down the back of the lower leg and places concussive force on the knee. Also called "Back at the Knee."

Cannon Bone - The long bone of the lower foreleg between the knee and the fetlock. Also called the "shin bone." On the hind leg, the corresponding bone is called the shank.

Capped Hocks - Swelling or puffiness on the point of the hock. Can be caused by a blow or injury, or may be caused by a horse lying down repeatedly in a stable with insufficient bedding.

Chestnuts - The horny growths on the inside of the horse's leg, either above the knee or below the hock; also called "night eyes."

Chin Groove - The groove above the lower lip in which the curb chain of a curb bit lies.

Coffin Bone - Small bone within the hoof. In severe cases of laminitis, this bone can detach and rotate, causing extreme lameness. See also Founder.

Coon Footed - A conformation fault in which the angle of the pastern becomes more horizontal and the fetlock drops.

Coupling - Region of the lumbar vertebrae, loin, or space between last rib and hip.

Cow-hocks - A condition in which the hocks turn in, like those of a cow. Opposite of bow-hocks.

Crest - Upper, curved part of neck, peculiar to stallions.

Croup - The top of the hind quarters, from the point of the hip to the tail.

Defect - Any mark or blemish that impairs usefulness: unsoundness.

Depth of Girth - The measurement from the wither to the elbow. A horse with a generous measurement between these points is said to have a "good depth of girth."

Dipped Back - An unusually hollow back between the withers and the croup. Can occur as a result of old age.

Dished Face - The concave head profile seen in breeds such as the Arabian.

Dock - The bony part of the tail, from which the hair grows.

Ergot - Horny growth at the back of the fetlock joint.

Ewe Neck - Conformation fault in which the neck appears to be "upside down," concave along its upper edge with a consequent bulging of muscles along the lower edge.

Far side - The right side of a horse.

Fetlock (Joint) - The joint between the long cannon bone and the pastern bone.

Flexor Tendon - Tendon at the back of the horse's leg that bends the joint below the knee backward.

Forearm - The upper part of the foreleg, above the knee.

Forelock - The mane between the ears, which hangs forward over the forehead.

Frog - Triangular, rubber pad on the sole of the foot which acts as a shock absorber.

Gaskin - The lower part of the horse's thigh, between the hock and the stifle.

Girth - The circumference of the body measured from behind the withers around the barrel.

Hindquarters - The part of the horse's body from the rear of the flank to the top of the tail down to the top of the gaskin. Also called simply, the quarters.

Hock - Joint midway up the hind leg, responsible for providing most of the forward energy of the horse.

Hoof - The foot, as a whole in horses. The curved covering of horn over the foot.

Horn - Hard, insensitive outer covering of the hoof.

Knock-Kneed - Conformation fault in which the knees point in toward each other.

Laminae - The horny-grooved inside of the hoof.

Lateral Cartilages - Wings of cartilage attached to the coffin bone, within the foot.

Loins - The weakest part of the horses back, lying either side of the vertebrae, just behind the saddle.

Mutton Withers - Withers that are wide and flat seen in horses such as the Quarter Horse, as opposed to the prominent, bony withers often seen in the Thoroughbred.

Navicular Bone - Small bone within the hoof, fitting horizontally between the second phalanx, or short pastern and the coffin bone.

Near side: the left side of a horse

Off side: The right side of a horse

Parietal Bones - The bones on the top of the skull.

Parrot Mouth - Overbite in a horse. The top jaw extends forward over the lower jaw.

Pastern - The sloping bone in the foot which connects the hoof to the fetlock.

Pigeon-toed - Conformation fault in which the feet are turned inward.

Points - External features of the horse making up its conformation.

Poll - The highest point on the top of the horse's head.

Quarters - The part of the horse's body from the rear of the flank to the top of the tail down to the top of the gaskin. Also called the hindquarters.

Roach Back - Convex curvature of the spine between the withers and the loins. Opposite of hollow back.

Roman Nose - The convex facial profile seen in Shires and other heavy breeds.

Sickle Hocks - Hocks which are bent, giving the hindleg the shape of a sickle, with the hind legs too far under the body. Although considered a conformation fault, this trait is desired by some reiners as the horse has to almost sit down in some of the reining patterns.

Stringhalt - Condition characterized by the over-flexion of the hind legs, in which the leg often is jerked up toward the belly at each step.

Suspensory Ligament - Ligaments that run from below the knee or hock to below the fetlock, helping to stabilize the fetlock and prevent over-extension.

Symmetrical - Proper balance or relationship of all parts.

Tied in Below the Knee - Conformation fault in which the circumference of the cannon bone directly below the knee is substantially less than that above the fetlock.

Top Line - The line from the back of the withers to the end of the croup.

Unsoundness - Term used to describe any condition, or conformation fault that limits the horse's ability to perform his job. May include conditions of the muscles, bones, heart, lungs, or other organs.

Well-Sprung Ribs - Long rounded ribs giving ample room for lung expansion, well suited to carrying a saddle.

Withers - Point at the bottom of the horse's neck from which the horse's height is measured.


Back: A two-beat diagonal gait in reverse

Canter: A three-beat gait in which the two diagonal legs are paired, therby producing a single beat that falls between the successive beats of the other unpaired legs

Diagonals: Refers to the forefoot of the horse moving in unison with the opposite hind foot at the trot; when posting, the rider should rise as the forefoot on the outside of a turn comes forward

Gaits: A way of going, either natural or acquired, that is characterized by a distinctive movement of feet and legs

Gallop: this is the fastest gait and it is four beats. The horse stretches out and each of its legs moves at different times.

Jog: A slow smooth trot in a western class

Trot: Natural two-beat diagonal gait in which the front foot and the opposite hind foot take off together and strike the ground together

Walk: Natural slow gait of four beats in which each foot strikes the ground in separate intervals in the following sequence: near hind, near fore, off hind, off fore


Body brush: Soft brush with fine bristles used to promote a healthy shine; a finishing brush

Comb: a metal or plastic comb that is used to brush out the mane of the horse.

Curry comb: a typically circular brush with metal teeth used to get mud off a horse. There are also rubber curry combs.

Dandy brush: a brush with stiff bristles made to reach into the horse’s coat and brush away bits of dirt, dander, and hair. This brush is used on the less sensitive areas of the horse, such as the horse’s back, shoulder, and rump.

Groom: To clean the coat and feet of the horse

Hoofpick: A hooked tool used for removing manure, stones and dirt from a horse's foot; should be used in a heel-to-toe motion

Metal curry comb: A type of brush made of metal; mainly used to remove mud and excess hair during the shedding season

Rubber curry comb: Grooming tool used in a circular motion to loosen dirt on a horse's body

Sweat Scraper: a plastic or metal piece with a curved head designed to scrape water and sweat off a horse.

Tail brush: a sturdy brush used to detangle and run through a horse’s tail.

Horse Descriptions

Aged - A term used to describe an older equine. In the show ring, it refers to horses 6 years of age or older.

Cob - A type of horse, rather than a breed, a cob is a horse of stocky appearance, well adapted to carrying heavyweight riders in all circumstances

Colt: A young male horse under three years of age; some extend to four years

Draft Horse - A term applied to any horse used for hauling vehicles or loads, but most often associated with the heavy breeds

Equine - Pertaining to a horse; belonging to the family Equidae; includes horses, asses, and zebras

Dam - Mother of a horse

Donkey/Ass - Another name for the donkey is an ass; these words are used interchangeably. Small donkeys are called burros.

Feral - A wild horse. Has escaped from domestication and become wild, as contrasted to one originating in the wild.

Filly - A female horse up to three years of age; in Thoroughbreds, the term may include four-year olds

Foal - A newborn equine (horse, pony, donkey, mule, etc.) of either sex, up to 1 year of age

Gelding - A male horse that has had his testicles removed

Grade - Term used to describe a horse that is not registered with any breed association.

Hinny - Offspring of a male horse (stallion) and a female donkey (jennet or jenny).

Horse - General term for an animal of the horse kind

Jack - Male ass, donkey, or burro

Jennet/Jenny - Female ass, donkey, or burro

Light Horse - Horse, other than a heavy horse or pony, which is suitable for riding or carriage work

Mare - Mature female four years or older

Mule - Offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare)

Mustang - Wild horse of the American West

Pony - A small horse, standing 14.1 or 14.2 hands or less. The height requirement depends on the association.

Sire - Father of a horse

Stallion - Male horse over three years old which has not been castrated, also known as an ‘entire’.

Type - A horse that fulfills a certain purpose such as a cob, or a hunter, but is not necessarily of any particular breed.

Two-year-old - An equine from January 1st of the year the animal turns 2 years of age to January 1st of the year it turns 3

Weanling - An equine foal that has been taken from it's mother or dam an no longer nurses

Yearling - An equine from January 1st of the year the animal turns 1 year of age to January 1st of the year it turns 2

Horse Health Care

Abrasions - Superficial wounds that do not penetrate the entire depth of the skin

Acute - fresh, first 3 to 5 days following injury

Antipruritic - medication that reduces or relieves itching

Antipyretic - medication that reduces fever

Avulsions - partial or complete tearing away of skin and tissue. Specifically, a degloving injury is a type of avulsion in which a section of skin is torn off the underlying tissue Completely, severing its blood supply. Degloving injuries on legs involving high-tensile wire are common in horses.

Bruise - damage without breaking the skin, bone or tendon

Float - The rasp used to file a horse's teeth or hooves

Floating - Removing sharp edges from the teeth with a rasp

Granulation - Formation of new cells from injured capillaries to fill up a wound gap

Incision - A purposeful cut, such as that a veterinarian makes during surgery

Intramuscular - medications are injected into the muscle

Intravenous - medicines that go directly into the vein

Laceration - Cut, often with torn frayed edges

Orally - medications are given by mouth

Prophylactic - medication used to prevent a disease

Proud Flesh - Excess granulation tissue which interferes with healing

Puncture wound - Wound with a penetrating object

Sprain - Rupture of tendon, ligament or capsule fibers

Strain - Stretching of tendon, ligament or capsule fibers without rupture

Topical - medications are applied directly to the skin or eye

Veterinarian - one who treats diseases or afflictions of horses medically or surgically


Items Related to Horse Vision

Behavior: The animal’s response to its environment.

Binocular Vision: Using both eyes to focus on things at the same time.

Cones: Cones are one of two types of photoreceptors (light-sensitive cells that turn images into electrical impulses to be sent to the brain via the optic nerve). Cones are necessary for sight in daylight and for distinguishing colors.

Conjunctiva: The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane that covers the eye and lines the underside of the eyelid.

Cornea: The cornea is the clear, outer surface of the eye. It is a clear, dome-shaped structure that protects the eye and lets in light. It assists in focusing light on the retina, which sits at the back of the eye. The sclera, the white of the eye, lay beneath the cornea, as do the iris and pupil.

Corpora Nigra: The corpora nigra is the irregular-looking area of the iris dipping into the pupil. It may look a little like an inconsistent wavy pattern. It can also be seen at the bottom of the pupil in some horses. This structure is thought to help with glare from the light to help horses see better.

Field of Vision: Horses see almost 360 degrees with the exception of right in front of them and behind them.

Iris: The iris is the colored part of the eye. The iris is usually a shade of brown in horses, ranging from a lighter amber color to a deep, dark brown. However, some horses have blue irises, or, extremely rarely, green!  The iris is also part of the uveal tract, which supplies the eye with blood. 

Lens: The lens of the eye sits just behind the iris and changes its shape in order to focus light onto the retina. The lens may become thicker or thinner, depending on whether the horse is focusing on something close (it becomes thicker) or far away (it becomes thinner).  The ciliary muscles are responsible for controlling the shape of the lens. 

Lower Eyelid: The lower eyelid is the structure of the skin at the bottom of the eye that helps spreads tears over the eye and keeps a protective moisture barrier and protects the eye from foreign objects. 

Monocular vision: Ability to see with each eye (monocular vision) independently so they may see what is happening on each side of their body.

Photo Receptor: cells in the retina that respond to light.

Predator: kills and eats other animals.

Prey: Animals that are eaten or hunted. A horse is a prey animal.

Pupil: The pupil is the black horizontal oval area within the iris that enlarges or shrinks, in order to let in more or less light. If it is low light or night out, the pupil will enlarge to let more light in and if it is bright, the pupil will shrink to limit the amount of light.

Retina: Contains the cells that sense light (photoreceptors).

Rods: Rods are one of two types of photoreceptors (light-sensitive cells that turn images into electrical impulses to be sent to the brain via the optic nerve). Rods are light-sensitive cells that allow sight in dimmer light.

Sclera: The sclera is the white of the eye.

Tapetum: The tapetum is reflective, located at the back of the eye, and helps improve vision in low light. This is the structure responsible for when we see “glowing” eyes from certain animals in the dark.

Third Eyelid/Nictating Membrane: The third eyelid, or nictating membrane, is a thin mucous membrane that is pulled across the eye when a horse blinks. It is located at the inner corner of the eye. The third eyelid may pull up if the eye is inflamed or injured.

Upper Eyelid: The upper eyelid is the structure of skin above the eye that helps spreads tears over the eye and keeps a protective moisture barrier and protects the eye from foreign objects. 

Vision: refers to the parts of the horse's eye and brain that enable the horse to see.

Visual Acuity: Visual acuity is the ability to see the details of an object separately and without blurring.

Nutrition - Feeds and Feeding

Ad libitum: Offering a horse as much feed as they want to eat.

Alfalfa: A flowering perennial plant that returns every year. When the plant is harvested and dried, it's often made into hay.

Amino Acids: Known as building blocks, they form chains to make up proteins. They can be split into essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the horse and must be provided by the diet An example is lysine.

As Fed: Nutrient results for a sample in its natural state including the water.

BalancerConcentrate feed providing vitamins, minerals and amino acids. They help to ensure that the horse has a balanced diet. They are often low in calories and energy.

Barley: Barley is about 11—13% protein and should be fed in a rolled or crushed form. It is relatively low in fiber and can cause digestive upsets if not mixed with sufficient roughage.

Beet pulp: Beet pulp is a byproduct from the processing of sugar beet which is used as fiber (hay substitute) for horses. It is supplied either as dried flakes or as compressed pellets. Beet pulp is low in sugar and other non-structural carbohydrates, but high in energy and fiber. Beet pulp has a relatively low protein content and good palatability.

Calcium: Calcium it is an essential mineral for bone and teeth formation, but also acts as an aid for muscle contraction, cell membrane function, enzyme regulation and blood clotting.

Cellulose: The main structure of the plant cell wall. Cellulose are not digested by mammalian enzymes in the small intestine, but are fermented by hind-gut microflora (bacteria).

Complete Feed: A feed designed to supply all the nutrients in the diet, including vitamins, minerals and adequate fiber levels to help maintain digestive health.

Concentrate: A feed used with another to improve the nutritive balance of the total and intended to be further diluted and mixed to produce a supplement or complete feed.

Corn: A tall cereal plant, cultivated in many varieties, having a jointed, solid stem and bearing the grain, seeds, or kernels on large ears.

Creep: An enclosure or feed used for supplemental feeding of nursing young that excludes their dams

Crimping: Grains are steamed and sent through a mechanical roller.

Cool-season grass: Grass types that thrive in areas with cold winters and hot summers. Examples include Kentucky bluegrass, Orchardgrass, Rye grass, Smooth brome grass, Timothy, Meadow Fescue and Tall fescue

Crude Fiber: Crude fiber is part of the labeling requirements for many horse  feeds. It is a reasonable estimate of fiber in grains and hay. Typically, when you look at the tag from a basic equine ration, the higher the crude fiber level listed, the lower the energy content of the feed.

Crude Protein: In horse feeds, protein is expressed as crude protein because it is an indirect or ‘crude’ estimation of that feed’s protein content. Proteins are organic compounds composed of amino acids. They are a major component of vital organs, tissue, muscle, hair, skin, milk and enzymes.

Digestible Energy (DE): The estimated energy content of the feed. It is measured in Mcal and provides a useful measure of the energy that the animal may be able to use from the feed.

Diet: Feed ingredients or mixture of ingredients including water, which is consumed by horses.

Easy keeper: An animal that grows or fattends rapidly on a limited amount of feed.

Electrolyte: Minerals that help maintain water balance and metabolism within the body. They are lost through sweat and urine, along with water. Sodium chloride (salt) is the most common; others include magnesium, potassium and calcium.

Energy Feeds: Feeds that are high in energy and low in fiber (less than 18%) and that generally contain less than 20% protein.

Essential Nutrients:  Those nutrients that cannot be made in the body from other substances or that cannot be made in sufficient quantity to supply the animal's needs; hence they must be supplied in the ration

Extruded: A process by which feed has been pressed, pushed, or protruded through orifices under pressure. The feed is subjected to increased pressure, friction, and attrition as it passes through a die opening. As the feed is released, it expands as steam is released because of the sudden drop in pressure.

Fat:  Fat is an energy dense nutrient and contains 2.25X the energy found in carbohydrates. Fat is added to rations to boost energy levels.

Feed or feedstuff: Edible material that is consumed by animals and contributes energy and/or nutrients to the animal's diet.

Flax: Flax is also known as linseed meal. Flax seed is the highest botanical form of omega-3 fatty acids and enhances overall health in horses. Flax seed meal should be ground as the outer seed coat is very hard and not digestible by the horse.

Forage: The vegetative portion of plants in a fresh, dried or ensiled state, which is fed to horses (as pasture or hay)

Fructan: Collective term used to describe carbohydrates containing multiple fructose units. Fructans are the main storage carbohydrate in cool season grasses. Fructans are not digested by mammalian enzymes in the small intestine, but are fermented by hind-gut microflora (bacteria)

Grass hay:  Grass hay is commonly made from timothy, fescue, bluegrass, orchard grass, Bermuda grass or brome grass.

Grain: Seed from cereal plants.

Hard keeper: An animal that is unthrifty and grows or fattens slowly regardless of the quantity or quality of feed.

Hay: The aerial portion of grass or herbage especially cut and cured for animal feeding.

Hay belly: Horse's belly distended as a result of excessive feeding of bulky rations, such as hay, straw or grass.

Hay quality: Physical and chemical characteristics of hay associated with palatability and abundance of feed nutrients

Legume:  A plant that has the ability to work symbiotically with bacteria to fix nitrogen from the air. Examples include alfalfa, red clover, white clover, and birdsfoot trefoil.

Lysine: An essential amino acid. The horse cannot produce it itself so it must be provided in the diet.

Macro Minerals:  The major minerals—those required in amounts of 100 milligrams or more per day—are calcium, phosphorus (phosphates), magnesium, sulfur, sodium, chloride, and potassium.

Maintenance Requirement: A ration that is adequate to prevent any loss or gain of tissue in the body when there is no production.

Non-Fiber Carbohydrates (NFC): An estimate of non-cell wall (non-fiber) carbohydrates consisting of starch, sugar, pectin and fermentation acids that can serve as energy sources for the animal.

Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC): Carbohydrates that occur either as simple sugars in the horse's feed or that can be broken down by enzymes produced by the horse. Included in this category are glucose and fructose, lactose, sucrose and starch.

Nutrient:  A feed constituent in a form and a level that will support the life of an animal.

Nutrient Requirements: Refers to meeting the animal's minimum needs, without margins of safety.

Omega Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids that play an important role in the function and structure of cell membranes, prostaglandin synthesis, preventing dry, flaky skin and reducing inflammation.

Palability:  Factors sensed by the animal in locating and consuming feed; appearance, color, taste, texture and temperature of the feed

Pellets: Agglomerated feed formed by compacting and forcing through die openings by a mechanical process.

Pectin: A cell wall polysaccharide that functions as "cellular glue". It is also known as "soluble fiber".

Phosphorus: Mineral involved with bone and teeth formation and it is a key component of energy metabolism, milk component, body fluid buffer systems.

Protein– Essential building blocks for the body; it is used for growth and repair. Proteins are made up of amino acids.

Ration:  The amount of total feed that is provided to one animal over a 24-hour period.

Simple Sugars: Glucose, fructose and galactose are most often found as components of larger carbo­hydrate molecules.

Starch: A non-structural carbohydrate. It is broken down in the small intestine and delivers fast release energy. Cereals are high in starch.

Supper fibers - Super fiber is a product that contains highly digestible fiber with very little non-digestible fiber. These highly digestible fiber sources provide horses with a calorie content similar to grain, however since they are fiber they are safer to feed. Super Fibers are digested in the hindgut (cecum and colon) so they do not produce rapid changes in blood sugar like grain.

Supplement:  A feed used with another to improve nutritive balance or performance of the total.

Sweet feed: A commercial horse feed that is characterized by its sweetness because of the addition of molasses.

Trace Minerals (micro minerals): Mineral nutrients required by animals in micro amounts only - Cobalt, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Selenium and Zinc

Vegetable Oil: Source of fat and energy for the horse. Liquid vegetable oil (corn and soybean oil), flax, and rice bran are several fat sources commonly utilized as energy sources for performance horses.

Vitamin A: Derived from carotene in green plants, it is important for normal eye and nerve function, maintenance of tissues in the reproductive and urinary tract, cell differentiation and required for normal growth, reproduction and lactation.

Vitamin D: Exposure to sunlight generates the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D acts in conjunction with calcium and phosphorus to promote and maintain proper bone formation and integrity.

Vitamin E: Acts in conjunction with selenium as powerful antioxidants.

Warm Season Grass:  Forages thrive in hot, dry climates,  so they grow best during the summer.


Bosal: Braided rawhide or leather noseband used in lieu of a snaffle bit on horses ages five and under that curves around the nose and is knotted under the jaw; it is held on by a headstall and woven horsehair or rope reins are attached to the knotted heel of the bosal

Bit - A device, normally made of metal or rubber, attached to the bridle ad placed in the horse's mouth to regulate the position of the horse's head and to help control the pace and direction.

Bit bars - Outise portion of the bit where it attaches to the shanks and rests on the bars of the mouth.

Bit guard - A rubber or leather ring that lies between the horse's cheek and the bit ring or shank to prevent skin pinching.

Breast collar - An accessory that attaches to both sides of your saddle skirt’s dee rings to keep a western saddle from sliding backward and from side to side. In most cases, it also attaches to the front cinch between the horse’s front legs, for additional anti-slide support.

Breastplate - A breastplate is a piece of riding equipment used on horses. Its purpose is to keep the saddle from sliding back.

Bridle: The part of a horse's saddlery or harness that is placed about the head; there are three components to a bridle: the reins, bit, and headstall

Close contact saddle - designed for jumping and used by hunt seat riders and competitive show jumpers. Close contact saddles position the rider slightly ahead of the horse’s center of gravity. The close contact saddle is generally identified by it’s shallow seat, square cantle, and forward flap.

Curb bit: A curb bit has a solid or broken mouthpiece, has shanks and acts with leverage. The bit works in conjunction with a curb chain, consisting of a straight mouthpiece attached at either end to long metal cheeks or shanks. All curb bits act on the nose, bars, lips, chin groove and tongue. Curbs with long shanks also act on the poll, and those with high ports act on the roof of the mouth. The action on the chin groove is via the curb chain, which acts as a fulcrum and without which the curb bit would only act as a snaffle.  A curb bit works by leverage on the lower jaw, applying pressure on the chin groove by means of the chain. The longer the lower section of the metal mouthpiece, the greater the pressure applied to the lower jaw.

Curb chain -  A metal chain that is fitted to the eyes of a curb or pelham bit and lies in the chin groove of the horse's jaw

Dressage saddle - Dressage saddles position the rider over the horse’s center of gravity. Typically dressage saddles have straight flaps and a very deep
seat (high cantle and pommel).

D-ring snaffle - A bit with a large D-shaped rings that prevent pinching and will not allow the bit to be pulled through themouth.

Eggbutt snaffle - A snaffle bit with oval (egg-shaped) rings that join to the mouthpiece with a protective sheath that prevents lip pinching.

English saddle - English saddles are flat, smaller and lighter compared to western saddles, have no embellishments or designs, and do not have a horn. The design allows riders to be in closer contact to the horse’s back.

Girth - A leather, canvas or corded band that buckles to and holds the saddle in place

Hackamore - A bitless bridle with no mouthpiece, control is achieved through pressure on the nose and jawbones

Halter: A headpiece; used for leading a horse; used for tying up a horse; used with a lead rope

Headstall: The bridle crownpiece, cheek pieces, and browband; does not include the noseband, bit, or reins

Hunt seat saddle - Used for riding hunt seat on the flat and jumping classes

Kimberwicke bit - A combination of snaffle and very mild curb action that does not have curb shanks

Lead shank: A chain, rope, strap, or combination thereof used for leading a horse

Mechanical hackamore - Works in a similar manner to the hackamore; however, it has metal shanks so leverage pressure is exerted on the nose and the chin via a curb strap or chain

Pelham bit - A bit tha combines snaffle and curb bits in one mouthpiece; a one-piece bit equipped to handle four reins

Reins - Attached to the bit to be used by the rider to stop, turn and back a horse. Western reins come in split and a single continuous-loop.  English reins usually come with two reins that attach to the bit rings of the bridle then are together in the center to create a loop.

Roping saddle - A style of western saddle characterized by a flat seat and a high dally horn with a flat, horizontal horn cap

Saddle: The seat designed to fit both rider and horse to make the act of riding more comfortable; may be English or western

Saddle blanket - A pad or blanket used  underneath the saddle to cushion the horse's back

Saddle horn - A prominent project on the pommel of the western saddle

Saddle pad - A thick, soft cushioning placed under the saddle

Snaffle bit: A very mild bit with a jointed or solid mouth- piece that works on direct pressure to the corners of the mouth and does not have shanks or curb straps

Stirrup iron - Location where the rider places their feet when riding on an English saddle.

Tack: Riding equipment or gear for the animal such as a saddle, bridle, halter

Western curb bit - curb bit used in western classes

Western bridle - Consists of a set of reins and a headstall. The type of reins may vary depending on the rider's preference and use of the horse.

Western saddle - A common type of saddle distinguished by a large noticeable fork on which ther is some form of horn, a high cantle, and large skirts

Western saddle pad - A thick, soft cushioning placed under the western saddle