Appendix A Glossary
Abscess: A localized area of infection. It can occur almost anywhere, but it most often affects the foot of a horse. This can be very painful to the horse, and will cause lameness.
Action: The way a horse moves at various gaits.
Aged: A horse that's over nine years old.
Azoturia: Prolonged cramping of a horse's muscles during exercise. The condition often appears in healthy horses that are exercised after a long period of rest. Also called “tying up.”
Bale: A measurement of hay.
Bedding: Materials used to line the floor of a stall, such as wood shavings or straw.
Bit: Metal bar on a bridle that goes in the horse's mouth and is used to control the horse while riding.
Bowed hocks: A conformational fault in which the hocks on the hind legs are turned too far outwards. Also called “cow hocks.”
Bowed tendon: A permanently swollen tendon resulting in weakening of the tendon but not lameness.
Breeder: A person who breeds purebred horses for a living.
Bridle: The entire headpiece, including the bit, chinstrap, reins, and headstall.
Buck: When a horse jumps and arches his back. This behavior is sometimes only playful and is not always intended to unseat the rider.
Cannon: A bone located between the knee and the fetlock and the hock and the fetlock.
Canter: One of a horse's four basic gaits; a three-beat gait.
Cavesson: Headgear with attachments for side reins and a lunge line that is worn by the horse during lunging.
Cob: A small, strong horse descended from draft horses; about 15 hands high.
Coffin bone: A bone located between the second phalanx and the horny sole.
Cold blood: Term used to refer to heavy European breeds of horse, such as draft horses.
Colic: General term for abdominal pain in the horse that can be fatal. There are two kinds of colic, gas colic and an impaction. A veterinarian should always be consulted in case of suspected colic.
Colt: A male horse under four years old that has not been castrated.
Conformation: The overall build of a horse. A horse with good conformation will look proportional. Each breed has its own standards of conformation, but what is considered acceptable conformation depends on what the horse is used for.
Coronet band: The coronet band encircles the horse's hoof, and produces new hoof wall. Injuries to the coronet band can bleed a lot, and may also show up as marks on the outside of the hoof wall as the hoof grows.
Cow hocks: A conformational fault in which the hocks on the hind legs are turned inward toward each other.
Cribbing: A vice in which a horse will arch his neck, stretch his esophagus, grab hold of a surface with his teeth (such as a fence railing), suck in air, and swallow it.
Cross ties: A method of restraining a horse so he can be worked on. The horse is secured using two ropes or ties, one on each side, connected to a solid post or wall.
Currycomb: A plastic or rubber comb with several rows of short flexible bristles. Used for removing loose hair and dirt from the horse's coat.
Dam: A horse's mother.
Dressage: A method of horse training including basic turns and the three basic gaits along with more elaborate exercises meant to give a horse self-confidence, balance, poise, and discipline. For riders, Dressage is considered to be the ultimate test of horsemanship and skill.
Easy keeper: A horse that easily maintains a proper weight. Also known as a thrifty horse.
Eventing: Equestrian competition held over one or three days and including events in Dressage, cross country, and show jumping.
Farrier: A professional blacksmith who puts shoes on horses.
Fetlock: The joint formed by the pastern, cannon, and sesamoid bones. Also known as the ankle joint.
Filly: A female horse under three or four years old.
Flake: One-tenth of a bale of hay.
Foal: A male or female horse under one year old and still unweaned.
Founder: The condition that develops as a result of laminitis in the foot of a horse. It is a separation of the sensitive laminae from the hoof wall. Founder causes extreme lameness.
Frog: A triangular structure located in the middle of the horse's sole. It acts as a pump to re-circulate blood back up the horse's leg.
Gait: Term describing the different ways a horse can move. The four basic natural gaits are walk, trot, canter, and gallop. There are also additional gaits that horses can be bred or trained for, such as the tolt or the flying pace.
Gallop: One of a horse's four basic gaits. A three-beat gait that is usually the fastest gait that a horse can run.
Gastric ulcer: Gastric ulcers in a horse are usually caused by stress and/or diet. They can be difficult to diagnose and will cause pain.
Gelding: A castrated male horse.
Girth: The strap that goes under the horse's belly to secure the saddle in place.
Green: Term used to describe a horse that has been ridden but is still in the early stages of training. Can also be used to describe a beginning rider.
Grooming: Maintenance of a horse's coat, including clipping, brushing, washing, and trimming the mane and tail.
Groundwork: Lead rope and lunge-line training.
Gut sounds: The noises that emanate from a horse's stomach.
Halter: A harness of leather or rope that fits over a horse's head. Similar to a bridle but without the bit or reins, a halter is used for leading a horse.
Hand: Equal to 4 inches, a hand is the standard way to measure horses. Horses are measured from their withers to the ground. An average horse is 15 hands, or 5 feet tall.
Hard keeper: A horse that struggles to maintain a proper weight.
Haynet: A way to keep hay off the ground or within reach in a stall or during transportation.
Height: Measured in hands from the highest part of the withers to the ground.
Herd health: Term used to describe the method that horsepeople use to protect their farm's population of horses. New horses are vaccinated and wormed before joining an established herd, after which they are wormed and vaccinated on the same rotation as the existing animals.
Hock: The joint between the gaskin and the cannon bone in the hind leg of the horse. The hock is similar to the human ankle.
Hoof: The horny outer covering of the foot.
Hoof pick: A metal or strong plastic tool with a pointed end for picking debris out of the underside of hooves.
Horn: The surface of the hoof.
Hot blood: Term used to refer to Arabian or thoroughbred horses.
Lame: Caused by illness or injury, lameness is a condition that prevents a horse from carrying weight equally on all four legs.
Laminae: Membranes lining the hoof that attach the hoof to the bones.
Laminitis: Painful condition causing inflammation of the laminae. Severe conditions can lead to founder.
Laryngeal hemiplegia: Partial paralysis of the larynx causing a characteristic roaring noise when the horse breathes.
Lope: Western term for canter.
Lunge: The method of training a horse by working him through various paces in a circle using a long lunge rein attached to the cavesson.
Mare: A female horse over four years old.
Martingale: A leather strap that goes from the girth to the bridle. Used to control the position of a horse's head.
Navicular disease: A disease of the navicular bone caused by improper shoeing and excess stress on the hooves, which leads to lameness.
Neurectomy: A treatment for navicular disease where the nerves supplying sensation to the foot are cut.
Nicker: A vocalization thought to communicate a greeting.
Paddock: Outdoor enclosure where horses are turned out for grazing.
Pastern: Part of the leg between the hoof and fetlock.
Pony: Certain breeds of small horses that are under 14.2 hands when fully grown.
Purebred: A horse that is the result of generations of unmixed breeding. Bred to have and produce perfect breed conformation.
Rearing: A vice in which the horse stands on his hind legs, usually intended to unseat a rider or cast off unwelcome tack.
Sesamoid bones: Small bones attached to the cannon and pastern by ligaments. Located behind the fetlock joint.
Sire: A horse's father.
Snaffle bit: A simple bit used most often in English riding styles, it consists of one or two bars joined in the middle, with rings at each end to attach to the reins.
Sound: Term used to describe a healthy horse.
Spavin: A bone enlargement of the hock affecting the hind legs that results in lameness.
Splint bones: Bones found on either side of the cannon bone.
Stallion: A male horse over four years old that has not been castrated.
Stifle: Joint between the femur and tibia, similar to a human knee.
Tack: All gear and equipment that can be worn by a horse, including the bridle, saddle, bit, and halter.
Thoroughbred: Breed of horse averaging 16 hands used as a racehorse. Thoroughbreds also make excellent hunter/jumpers.
Thrifty: A horse that easily maintains a proper weight on an adequate diet.
Tie down: A Western term for a martingale.
Trot: One of the four basic gaits, it is a two-beat gait.
Turnout: To set a horse loose in a paddock or pasture for all or part of the day, either alone or with other horses.
Unsound: A horse with health problems or lameness.
Unthrifty: A horse that does not gain or maintain weight, despite having an adequate diet and no known illnesses
Walk: One of the four basic gaits; a four-beat gait in which each leg moves independently and each hoof strikes the ground separately.
Warm blood: Term referring to a horse type that resulted from a cross between heavier draft horses (cold bloods) and lighter thoroughbreds or Arabians (hot bloods).
Weanling: A horse under one year old that has been weaned.
Wind puff: Any diffuse swelling located below the knees in the front legs, and below the hock in the hind legs. They are usually a warning sign of stress or overwork, but not usually associated with lameness.
Withers: The slight ridge on a horse's upper back from which height is measured.
Yearling: A horse that is no more than one year old.