For those of you new to the world and language of horses, here are some key words to know.  Definitions taken from the Miningco Horse Dictionary.

Aids: Signals or cues by which the rider communicates his wishes to the horse. The "natural" aids include the voice, the legs, the hands and the seat. "Artificial" aids include the whip and spurs.

Albino: Term used to indicate lack of pigment. True albino horses have pink skin, white hair coat and pink eyes.

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

Barrel Racing: A timed event in Western Riding where horse and rider complete a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels.

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

Bay: Coat color - deep reddish brown with black mane and tail.

Billets/Billet Straps: Straps by which the girth is attached to the saddle.

Blaze: Elongated white marking down the front of the horse's face. (Also called a stripe)

Blood Horse: A Thoroughbred horse.

Breed: An equine group bred selectively for consistent characteristics over a long period of time.

Brood Mare: A mare used for breeding purposes.

Broken-In/Broke to Ride: Horse that has been accustomed to the tack and the rider and has begun initial training. (Also called greenbroke)

Buck: A leap in the air with the head lowered and the back arched.

Buckskin: Coat color - body can range from cream to dark bronze, mane, tail, legs and tips of ears are black or dark brown. Horses showing similar coloration, but with a dorsal stripe, are called dun.

Canter: Three beated gait of the horse in which one hind leg strides first (the leading leg), followed by the opposite diagonal pair and finally the opposite foreleg. Called the lope in Western riding.

Cantle: Back ridge of an English saddle.

Carriage Horse: An relatively light and elegant horse used for carriage driving.

Cavelletti: Adjustable low wooden jumps used in the schooling of horse and rider.

Chestnut: (i) The small rubbery protrusion on the inside of all four legs. (ii) Reddish-brown coat color (also called Sorrel).

Cinch: Means by which a Western saddle is secured to the horse, which attaches to the saddle on one side, running under the barrel just behind the legs to the other side. Called a girth in English Riding. 

Coldblood: The name used to describe the heavy European breeds of horse descended from the prehistoric Forest Horse.

Colic: General term describing abdominal pain in the horse. Ranges in severity from mild to life-threatening. A veterinarian should always be consulted in case of suspected colic.

Colt: Uncastrated male horse up to four years of age. Male foals are called "colt foals".

Conformation: The overall way in which a horse is put together and also the relationship of specific parts of the horse in regards to its proportions. Counter Canter: School movement in which the horse canter in a circle with the outside leg leading, instead of the more usual inside leg.

Cross-Ties: A method of tethering a horse using two ropes or ties, one on each side, connected to a solid post or wall.

Dam: A horse's female parent.

Diagonals: The horses legs move in pairs at the trot, called diagonals. The left diagonal is when the left foreleg and right hindleg move, the right diagonal is when the right foreleg and the left hindleg move. When on a circle, the rider rises as the outside foreleg moves forward.

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

Dressage: (i) The art of training the horse so that he is totally obedient and responvie to the rider, as well as supple and agile in his performance. (ii)Competetive sport which, by a series of set tests, seeks to judge the horse's natural movement and level of training against an ideal.

Equitation: The art of horse riding.

Eventing: Equestrian competition held over one or three days and including the disciplines of dressage, cross country and show jumping. Also known as Combined Training

Farrier: Skilled craftsman who shoes horses.

Filly: Female horse under four years old. A female foal is called a "filly foal".

Foal: Colt, filly or gelding up to one year of age.

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

Founder: Term used to describe the detachment and rotation of the coffin bone which happens in severe cases of laminitis. If this happens, the horse is said to have foundered. Causes severe lameness.

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

Gait: The paces at which horses move, usually the walk, trot, canter and gallop.

Gallop: Four-beated gait of the horse, in which each foot touches the ground separately, as opposed to the canter, which is a three-beat gait.

Gelding: Castrated male horse.

Grade: Term used to describe an horse that is not registered with any breed association.

Grey: Coat color ranging from pure white to dark grey. Further described by terms such as "dappled" (small iron-grey circles on a lighter background) and "flea-bitten" (flecks of dark grey on a white background).

Hand: Unit of measure used to describe a horse. One hand equals 4 inches, partial measurements being described as 14.1, 14.2, 14.3.

Hotblood: Term describing horses of Arabian or Thoroughbred blood.

Hybrid: A cross between a horse and one of the other equids, such as an ass or a zebra.

Inbreeding: The mating of brother/sister, sire/daughter, son/dam, to fix or accentuate a particular trait or character.

Irons: The metal pieces attached to the saddle by means of leather straps in which the rider places his feet. (Also called Stirrups)

Jog: Western riding term for trot. Also used to describe a slow, somewhat shortened pace in English riding.

Jumper: Type of horse suited to jumping and which competes in jumping classes.

Laminitis: Condition, caused by systemic upset, in which the laminae inside the hoof become inflammed and painful to the horse. Severe conditions can lead to founder.

Lead: Term used to indicate the horse's leading leg in canter i.e. "right lead canter" or "left lead canter". Lope: Slow western canter.

Mare: Female horse aged four and over.

Offside: The right hand side of the horse.

On the Bit: A horse is said to be "on the bit" when he carries his head in a near vertical position and he is calmly accepting the rider's contact on the reins.

Overo: Coat pattern seen in Paint Horses. Uneven splashes of white over the horse's belly, legs, neck and head. Also called Paint Horse and Tobiano.

Pacer: A horse which moves its legs in lateral pairs, rather than the conventional diagonal pairs.

Palomino: Coat color in which the body can be varying shades of gold, with a silver or white mane and tail.

Pony: A small horse, standing 14.2 or less.

Posting Trot: The action of the rider rising from the saddle in rhythm with the horse's trot. (Also called Rising Trot)

Purebred: A horse with both parents being of the same breed.

Reining: Type of Western riding in which advanced movements such as spins and slides are executed in various patterns.

Roan: Coat color in which white hairs are mixed with the base coat color. A strawberry roan is where chestnut and white hairs are mixed to give an overall reddish effect. A blue roan refers to a coat in which black and white hairs are mixed, giving an overall blue effect.

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

Sire: A horse's male parent.

Sock: White marking on any or all of a horse's lower legs. Markings extending higher than the knee or hock are called stockings.

Sound: Free from lameness or injury.

Spurs: Small metal devices worn on the rider's boot to help enforce the leg aids. Come in a range of severety, from very mild blunt spurs to severe roweled models.

Stallion: Uncastrated male horse.

Tack: Refers to the equipment of a riding horse - saddle, bridle etc. Short for "tackle."

Thrush: Fungal or bacterial infection of the frog, characterized by foul-smelling discharge from the cleft of the frog.

Transition: The act of changing from one pace to another. Walk to trot and trot to canter are known as "upward transitions". Canter to trot and trot to walk are known as "downward transitions".

Trot: Moderate-speed gait in which the horse moves from one diagonal pair of legs to the other, with a period of suspension in between.

Warmblood: In general terms, a half-bred, or part-bred horse, the result of an Arabian or Thoroughbred cross with other breeds. Also one of a number of specific breeds of horse which were developed by crossing hotblood and coldblood horses to produce a more refined, but athletically strong and capable horse, such as the Swedish Warmblood, the Dutch Warmblood etc.

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

Yearling: Colt or filly between one and two years of age.