Terms & explanations

In our dictionary you find some off the most used medical and non-medical terms related to horses. If you believe terms are missing please feel free to contact us via the contact page. We can insert them in the list.


Abaxial Away from the central axis of a structure.
Abduction A drawing away from the medium plane of the body
Accessory Carpal bone Disk-shaped bone forming the sharp ridge at the back of the knee
Adduction Drawing toward the medial plane of the body
Adductor muscles Group of muscles that draw the thigh inwards.
Albino Term used to indicate lack of pigment. True albino horses have pink skin, white hair coat and pink eyes.
Allowance Race A race in which eligibility is based upon amounts of money won or earned, or number of races a horse has won over a specified time.
Amble The slower form of the lateral pacing gait. (See Pacer)
Andalusian Elegant breed of horse originating in the Iberian Peninsula. Known in Portugal as the Lusitano.
Anterior At or toward the head of the body.
Appaloosa Breed of horse exhibiting one of a number of distinct coloration patterns of spots on the body. Developed by the Nez Perce Indians and named for the River Palouse. Coloration patterns include leopard spot, blanket, snowflake, frost.
Appendix A horse registered in the Appendix of the American Quarter Horse Registry. Quarter Horse/Thoroughbred cross.
Arabian Ancient and graceful breed of horse, originating in the deserts of the Middle East and having a strong influence on many other breeds, including the Thoroughbred.
Arthritis Inflammation of a joint.
At The Post A term commonly used signifying the horses have arrived and are ready to be loaded into the starting gate.


Back at the Knee A conformational fault where the upper leg is set back in comparison to the lower leg. This fault is more serious than over at the knee because it places additional strain on the tendons running down the back of the lower leg. Back-breeding: The practice of breeding back to a certain stallion to preserve a particular desirable trait.
Backside The stable and training area of a racetrack.
Backstretch Straight or far-side of track between turns.
Balance(Hoof) A condition which exists when the weight placed on each leg of the horse is distributed equally over the foot of that leg. A horse’s foot is said to be in balance when viewed from the front or rear if the medial axis of the leg, pastern, and foot are in a straight line. The foot is said to be in balance when viewed from the side of the medial axis of the pastern coincides with the axis of the foot which is parallel to the hoof wall at the toe.
Bald-Faced US term used to describe a horse with a predominantly white face.
Barrel Racing An exciting race against the clock in which exhibitors follow a course consisting of three barrels in triangular “cloverleaf” pattern. Riders choose to circle either the right or left barrel first, race to the opposite barrel and complete the course after circling the third barrel and racing down the center of the three barrels to stop the timer. Knocking over a barrel carries a five second penalty.
Barrel The area of the horse’s body between the forelegs and the loins.
Bars On bottom of horse’s hoof, continuation of the horny wall running forward from the heels between the sole and the frog.  Also refers to open spaces on the jaw between the incisors and cheek teeth.
Base narrow Conformational fault in which there is less distance between the horse’s legs at the bottom than at the top.
Base wide Conformational fault in which there is a greater distance between the horse’s legs at the bottom than at the top, caused by improper angulations at the elbow or the stifle.
Baskir Curly Breed of horse exhibiting a unique curly coat. Also called simply the Curly Horse.
Bay Coat color – deep reddish brown with black mane and tail.
Belgian Draft Horse Breed of heavy horse, originating in Belgium and used for heavy draft work. Also known as the Brabant.
Bench knees Conformational defect in which the cannon bone is offset to the outside of the axis of the forearm bone above it.
Best Bet Term used by track handicappers, tip sheets, selectors, etc., to signify the horse they feel most likely to win that day.
Bilateral On both sides. For instance both hooves of a pair.
Black type Bold-face type used in sales catalogs to distinguish horses that have won or placed in a stakes. If a horse’s name appears in all upper case bold-face type, he has won one stakes race. If it appears in upper/lower case bold-face type, he has placed in at least one stakes.
Blanket Finish Finish in which two or more horses are very close at finish (one can “Throw a blanket over them”). Very common in American Quarter Horse racing.
Blaze Elongated white marking down the front of the horse’s face. (Also called a stripe)
Blemish Minor conformation fault, either occurring congenitally or caused by an injury that is considered undesirable but does not interfere with the horses soundness
Blind spavin Arthritis of the lower joints of the hock where the bone has degenerated but there is no visual projection.  A horse suffering from this condition will be lame without showing external signs of spavin.
Blinkers A hood placed over a horse’s head with cups sewn onto the eye openings. The cups prevent a horse from seeing anywhere but straight ahead, thus preventing distractions. The size of the cups are varied to allow a horse more or less peripheral vision.
Blood Horse A Thoroughbred horse.
Blood Spavin An enlargement of the saphenous vein on the medial side of hock.
Bloodstock Thoroughbred horses bred for racing.
Bog spavin Swelling of the hock joint capsule due to excessive joint fluid.  May result from sprain, stress or faulty conformation. Caused by: Faulty conformation; strains; sprains resulting from rapid turning and quick stops; deficient nutrition; insufficient levels of vitamins A and D, calcium and phosphorus.
Bone spavin Bone enlargement or destruction on the inner surface of the hock.
Bone The measurement around the leg, just below the knee or hock. This measurement determines the horse’s ability to carry weight; therefore a light-boned will be limited in weight carrying capacity.
Bow legs Conformational fault in which the hocks are set too far apart, frequently causing interference between the hind feet as they pass each other in travel.
Bowed tendon Thickening of the superficial flexor tendon, generally between the knee and the fetlock Caused by: Overexertion; muscular fatigue; misstep
Bow-hocks Bandy-legged, where the hocks turn outwards. The opposite of cow-hocks.
Boxy hooves Narrow, upright hooves with a small frog and closed heel. Also called club foot.
Breakaway Roping A timed competition, rather than a scored event, for Amateur and Youth contestants. In breakaway roping, the rope is attached to the saddle horn with a heavy string allowing it to break when a legal catch is made. All other calf roping rules apply.
Breed An equine group bred selectively for consistent characteristics over a long period of time.
Breeder The breeder of an American Quarter Horse is considered to be the owner of the dam at the time of service, while the breeder of a Thoroughbred is the owner of dam at time of foaling.
Brindle Horse Breed of horse exhibiting a distinctive marbleized coat coloring, similar to that seen in brindle dogs.
Broken Winded Term used to describe horses having an abnormal breathing pattern due to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Also known as heaves.
Bucked knee (over at the knee) Persistent forward bending of the horse’s knee due to contraction of Ligaments or scar tissue behind the joint.
Bucked shin Inflammation of the front to the cannon bone, associated with Microscopic stress fracture.
Buckskin Coat color – body can range from crème 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.
ursa Sac or cavity filled with fluid located in a joint or other place where friction is likely to occur; provides lubrication between the ligaments, tendons, or the bones over which they run.
Bursitis Inflammation of a lubricating space (bursa) under a tendon or a ligament.
Buttress foot Form of low ringbone, an abnormal bone growth in which the horse’s foot becomes pyramidal in shape. Pushes up the front of the coronary band
By The father of a horse.


Calcification Tissue hardening due to calcium-salt deposits.
Calf knees Conformation defect in which the carpus is angled behind the ideal straight line of front leg construction when viewed from the side.
Calf Roping A class that tests a horse’s ability to follow a calf at great speed, giving the rider the best opportunity to catch the calf. The horse is judged on how quietly he waits for the calf to be released; how well he runs to the calf; how he rates his speed and position so that the rider can rope the calf; and how well the horse stops and works the end of the rope, keeping the slack out but not dragging the calf. There is a one minute time limit for all roping events.
Camped Behind A “camped behind” horse stands like a saw horse with the hooves behind the vertical.
Camped out Conformation fault in which the hind legs are too far behind the horse.  A straight line from the point of the hip to the ground, perpendicular to the ground, will not touch the point of the hock and will end forward of the middle of the hoof.
Cannon bone Leg bone above the fetlock or ankle joint.
Capped elbow Soft, often fluid filled swelling over the point of the elbow caused by bruising of skin and underlying tissues.
Capped hock Soft, often fluid filled swelling over the point of the hock caused by bruising of skin and underlying tissues.
Carpal Pertaining to the carpus.
Carpitis Popped knee.
Carpus Knee” joint of the horse, equivalent to the human wrist.
Carpus valgus A conformation defect in which the fore limbs deviate laterally below the knee. Sometimes associated with a knock kneed appearance. Knock knees.
Carpus varus A conformation defect in which the fore limbs deviate medially below the knee. Sometimes associated with a bow-legged appearance. Bow Legged.
Carriage Horse A relatively light and elegant horse used for carriage driving.
Cart Horse Usually a coldblood draft horse.
Caudal Towards the tail.
Cervical Pertaining to the cervix (the neck of the womb), or the neck (cervical vertebrae).
Chestnut 1. The small rubbery protrusion on the inside of all four legs. 2. Reddish-brown coat color (also see Sorrel).
Chin Groove The groove above the lower lip in which the curb chain of a curb bit lies.
Chondritis Inflammation of cartilage.
Chrome US term used by auctioneers and in sales ads to describe the white markings of a horse.
Chronic obstructive Pulmonary disease Forced expiratory effort in horses due to narrowing of the small airways in the lungs.
Chute The straightaway extension to the oval section of a track. Generally, the typical one mile track will have a 440-yard or 1 1/4-mile chute entering the homestretch and a 3/4- and/or 7/8-mile chute entering the backstretch.
Claim Claiming races are the most common type of race, constituting approximately 70% of all races run. In these races, horses are entered for a specific price and can be purchased or “claimed” by any licensed owner at the track for that price.
Claimer A horse which consistently runs in claiming races.
Claiming price The price for which a horse is running in a claiming race.
Claiming Race A race in which the conditions provide that each entry may be bought by a licensed owner, either directly or indirectly, through a trainer. The claim can only be made until a few minutes before post time, at which time the claiming box is closed. A claimed horse becomes the property of the new owner when the race starts, but the purse winnings from that race go to the previous owner.
Class A horse showing all the best qualities in breeding, conformation, ability and stamina.
Clean-legged Without feathering on the lower legs.
Clerk of Scales A racing official whose responsibility is to sequester all jockeys each racing day, check their assigned riding weights versus their actual weights, report all changes and weigh all riders out and in from races.
Cleveland Bay Breed of horse. Originating in England as a carriage horse. Increasingly popular for crossing with Thoroughbreds to produce versatile sport horses used in a number of equine sports.
Clocker Person responsible for accurately timing the workouts of a horse. These times are published for the benefit of the public. All workouts are taken during the morning training hours.
Clubfoot An extremely upright hoof with a very broken-forward pastern-hoof axis. May be caused by flexor deformity. In extreme cases, the digit may be folded back, with the animal bearing weight on its dorsal surface. In congenital club feet, the slope of the heels is usually more upright than that of the toe.
Clydesdale Breed of heavy horse originating in Scotland and used for heavy draft work.
Coach Horse A powerfully built horse, capable of drawing a heavy coach.
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.
Coffin bone The major bone within the hoof, shaped like a miniature hoof.
Coffin joint Lowermost joint of the leg located where the short pastern bone meets the coffin bone and the navicular bone within the hoof.
Coldblood The name used to describe the heavy European breeds of horse descended from the prehistoric Forest Horse.
Combined Training Equestrian competition held over one or three days and including the disciplines of dressage cross country and show jumping. Also known as Eventing
Common digital extensor tendon Main extensor tendon in the front leg. It passes down over the front and slightly to the outside of the leg and attaches to the long pastern, short pastern and coffin bone. The widest point of attachment is at/on the extensor process of the coffin bone. It is joined on each side of the pastern by branches of the suspensory ligament. It is responsible for extending the leg.
Compensation Adjustments a horse makes to try to keep an even gait despite a sore or lame leg.
Condition The qualifications or eligibility rules for horses to be entered into a race. Also a term used to indicate a horse is ready to race.
Condition Book A booklet written by the Racing Secretary and published for the horsemen by the racing association usually every two weeks, which lists all races, conditions and other information pertinent to the race meet.
Conformation Physical inherited construction of a horse. 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.
Connemara One of the nine breeds of ponies native to the British Isles. Originating in Ireland.
Contracted heels Term describing condition in which the heels of the hoof are too close together and too upright for normal conformation of the hoof.
Contracted tendons Abnormal condition of the flexor tendons at the back of the leg preventing normal extension of the fetlock and or coffin joint.
Coon-footed Conformation fault in which, at rest the pastern is parallel to the ground.
COPD Abbreviation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or heaves. Brought on by allergies and characterized by abnormal breathing pattern and reduced tolerance to exercise. See also broken winded.
Corium The deep tissue beneath the coronary band, which produces the horn.
Corn A bruise of the hoof sole between the wall and the bar, usually caused by leaving shoes on too long. Caused by: Concussion on hard surfaces, frozen rough ground, rocky terrain, gravel, etc.
Coronary band Area where hair stops and hoof growth begins at the bottom of the pastern.
Coronary coronet The hair surface of the coronet. Part of the hoof farthest from the basal surface of the hoof at any given point.
Coronary crack A sandcrack which starts at the top of the hoof and splits down.
Coupled Entry Two or more horses belonging to the same owner or trained by the same trainer are said to be coupled, as they run as an entry comprising a single wagering interest.
Cow hocked Medial deviation of the tarsal joints. Usually results tin toeing out with a base wide conformation.
Cracked Heels Inflammation of the heels, resulting in cracked skin and discharge of pus. A condition wherein the tissue covering the bulbs of the heels cracks open, leaving the heels susceptible to infection. Primarily caused by chronically wet heels due to moist footing. Also known as “mud fever.”
Croup Top line of hindquarters; rump.
Curb Thickening of the plantar ligament at the back of the hock, resulting in an enlargement below the point of the hock. Caused by: A rupture due to injury or strain.
Cut out under knee A horse with “cut out under the knees” has a cannon bone that while vertical is slightly towards the back of the knee, and not directly below the upper leg. Shelf knees is a synonym but over at the knees is not the same thing.
Cutting Pits a Horse against a cow in a battle of wills. Horse and rider must move quietly into a herd of cattle, cut one cow from the herd, drive it to the center of the arena and “hold” it away from the herd. The horse is scored on its ability to keep the cow from returning to the herd, cow sense, attentiveness and courage. There is a 2-1/2 minute time limit.


Daily Double A type of wager in which one must select the winners of two races in succession.
Dales Pony One of the nine breeds of horse or pony native to the British Isles. Originating from the Pennines, from Derbyshire to the Scottish border.
Dally Team Roping A judged (instead of timed) competition where the heading and heeling horses are entered and judged individually. There is a one minute time limit with each roper being allowed two loops from one rope.
Dally Team Roping-Heading The heading horse is judged in the rate of speed to the steer, ability to match the steer’s speed and favorably position the roper to catch. The horse is also judged on his ability to check, turn and set the steer in position for the heeler.
Dam Female parent of the animal.
Dartmoor Pony One of the nine breeds of horse or pony native to the British Isles. Originating in the Dartmoor region of southwest England.
Dead Heat Where the photo-finish camera shows two horses inseparable at the finish, the race is declared a dead heat or tie.
Deep digital flexor tendon Originates at the deep flexor muscle of the leg, and inserts (attaches to) at the semilunar crest of the coffin bone after passing over the fulcrum points formed by the proximal and distal (navicular) sesamoid bones. It flexes (folds) the leg when the deep flexor muscle contracts. Also, Deep flexor tendon, DFT, DDFT
Degenerative Joint disease Type of arthritis commonly occurring in horses as a result of repeated stress. Involves inflammation, cartilage loss and new bone growth; results in a reshaping of the joint and decreased joint mobility.
Derby A stakes exclusively for three-year-olds.
Desert Horse Term used to describe horses bred in dry, desert conditions, or horses descended from such horses. Examples are Arabian and Akhal Teke.
Desmitis Inflammation of a ligament.
Desmotomy The cutting or division of ligaments.
Digit The equine limb distal to the fetlock.
Digital Pertaining to the pastern and foot of the horse.
Digital cushion Firm, spongy, wedge shaped tissue mass filling the area between the frog below and the deep digital flexor tendon above.  Form the bulbs of the heel behind.
Digital extensor Tendon Tendon running down the front of the cannon bone, extending the hoof and pastern.
Digital pulse Wave of blood flow through the digital arteries leading to the foot.
Dish A breaking away at the quarter in the horny wall; also, can be an indention found anywhere on the hoof.
Dished Face The concave head profile seen in breeds such as the Arabian.
Disqualification Change in the order of finish by officials for an infraction of the rules.
Distal Remote, farther from the center.
Distal sesmoid bone The navicular bone.
Distal When referring to limbs, distal means away from the torso, or comparatively farther from the torso or center of gravity. Opposite of proximal.
Distanced Well beaten, finishing a great distance behind the winner.
Dock The bony part of the tail, from which the hair grows.
Dorsal Toward the surface of the back.
Dorsal Stripe A continuous stripe of black or brown hair from neck to tail. Seen in horses of “primitive” breeding, such as the Exmoor and the Norwegian Fjord and is often seen in dun-colored horses. (Also called Eel Stripe)
Draft Horse A term applied to any horse used for hauling vehicles or loads, but most usually associated with the heavy breeds.
Dressage (i) The art of training the horse so that he is totally obedient and responsive to the rider, as well as supple and agile in his performance. (ii)Competitive sport which, by a series of set tests, seeks to judge the horse’s natural movement and level of training against an ideal.
Dun Coat color. Yellow or sandy colored body with black points. Also has a dorsal strip.


Eased A horse not allowed continuing in a race due to injury, poor conditioning or inability to compete.
Eel Stripe A continuous stripe of black or brown hair from neck to tail. Seen in horses of “primitive” breeding, such as the Exmoor and the Norwegian Fjord and is often seen in dun-colored horses. (Also called Dorsal Stripe)
Enter To enroll a horse in a race.
Entry A horse eligible to run in a race; also, two or more horses entered on the same race which have common ties of ownership, lease or training.
Entry Box A locked box into which trainers drop entry forms.
Entry Fee Money paid to enter a horse in a race.
Equitation Over Fences Designed for Amateur and Youth competitors, this event tests the rider’s seat, hands and ability to control and show an American Quarter Horse over fences. The course consists of at least four obstacles with a minimum of six jumps required. Jumping faults of the horse are not to be considered unless it is the result of the rider’s ability.
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
Ewe neck Conformation fault in which the neck appears to be “upside down”.  Instead of a crest the horse has a dip in the neck.
Exacta A wager in which the bettor must select the first and second-place finishers in order.
Exercise Rider Rider who exercises horses in the morning training hours
Exmoor Pony One of the nine breeds of horse or pony native to the British Isles. Originating in the Exmoor region of southwest England.
Extensor Muscle or tendon, which acts to straighten (extend) a joint.


False Start Unofficial start, from which horses are recalled to the gate.
Fast A track that is thoroughly dry and at its best. The footing is even.
Favorite An entrant that has the shortest odds on the tote board.
Feature The best race on a card.
Fell Pony One of the nine native breeds of Britain. Originating in the fells of northern England.
Femur The thighbone.
Fetlock Lower leg joint formed at the meeting of the long pastern, cannon and sesamoid bones.  Equivalent of the human knuckle at the base of the finger.
Fetlock Joint The joint at the junction of the cannon bone and the pastern bone. Also incorporates the two sesamoid bones.
Field The entire group of starters in a race; or the mutual field with several long shots coupled as a single wagering interest when more horses are entered than the tote board allows.
Filly Female horse under four years old and unbred. A female foal is called a “filly foal”.
Fistula withers Inflamed condition on the withers, commonly thought to be due to bruising.
Fjord/Fiord Norwegian Fjord Horse. Ancient breed of horse, retaining the characteristics of the primitive wild horse, the Przewalski.
Flank Fleshy area on the side of the torso between the ribs and the hip.
Flexor Muscle or tendon, which acts to bend a joint.
Flexural deformity Excessive tension of either the DDF or SDF musculo-tendon unit.. Can result from heredity, malnutrition, injury, or a combination of these. Can be treated with managed exercise, diet, farriery, and surgery. A.K.A Contracted tendon.
Foal Colt, filly or gelding up to one year of age.
Foot The hoof and all the structures contained within it. (Note The terms hoof and foot are often used interchangeably.)
Forearm The upper part of the foreleg, above the knee.
Forelock The mane between the ears, which hangs forward over the forehead,
Foul An action by any horse or jockey that hinders or interferes with another horse or jockey during the running of a race.
Foundation Foundation Quarter Horses are Quarter Horses whose bloodlines have not had any Thoroughbred blood added since 1940. Must be registered with the AQHA and have less than 10% Thoroughbred blood.
Founder Term used to describe disease of the laminae that causes bilateral lameness. Usually secondary to a systemic illness in the horse which involves the malfunction of the blood flow to the capillaries which feed the laminae. When severe this results in the death of some laminar tissue. In its worse presentation there is detachment and rotation of the coffin bone away from the wall. If this happens, the horse is said to have foundered. Though the term is often used synonymously with laminitis, some reserve laminitis for the acute phase and founder to the chronic or rotated phase.
Founder rings Visible ridges and grooves resulting from disturbance of growth in the foundered foot.  The grooves lie close together at the front and are widely separated in the heels.
Founder stance Typical stance of a horse with founder in which the animal will try to take as much weight as possible off the affected feet.  For example, if the forefeet are affected, the horse will bring them forward in front of his body, and move his hind feet up under his belly.
Friesian Elegant breed of horse originating in the Netherlands. Always black in color with wavy mane and feathering at the fetlocks.
Frog Triangular, rubber pad on the sole of the foot which acts as a shock absorber.
Furlong A 220 yard (1/8 mile) unit of distance often used for horse race measurement.
Futurity In shows it can be applied to a two-year-old performance event or yearling or younger halter event.


Gaited Horse Horses which move at paces other than the walk, trot and canter – such as the Saddlebred, the Paso Fino and the Icelandic.
Gaskin Part of the hind leg from the hock up to the stifle, equivalent to the human shin.
Gaskin bone The main bone between the stifle and the hock (tibia).
Gelding Castrated male horse.
Good A racetrack surface rated between slow and fast. Moisture remains in the strip but the footing is adequate.
Goose-rumped Pronounced muscular development at the croup seen in some jumping horses. Sometimes called “jumper’s bump”.
Grade Term used to describe a horse that is not registered with any breed association.
Graded Race The grade that may be given traditional handicaps, stakes or classic races by quality of horses and size of the purse with Grade 1 being the best, Grade 2 the next best, and Grade 3 next.
Grass founder Internal deformity of the foot, resulting from rotation of the coffin due to simultaneous detachment from the hoof wall and pull on the deep flexor tendon.  Caused by over consumption of lush grass containing high carbohydrate levels and or other unknown constituents which increase product of lactic acid in the
Gravel Condition in which infection has worked up through the white line of the hoof.
Green Working Hunter An event designed for horses in their first year of showing over fences or those which have not earned 10 AQHA points in working hunter for jumping classes. Rules are the same as those in working hunter except the fences are not as demanding.
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).
Groom The stable employee, employed by the trainer, who cares for horses and performs daily chores such as grooming, bedding stall, bandaging, feeding, tacking and preparing for a race.
Gymkhana Mounted games, including bending poles, sack race, musical sacks and a variety of other games and races.
Gymnastic Combination of fences placed at relative distances to each other, used in the training of the jumping horse.



Hackney Breed of horse exhibiting a distinctive high-stepping action. Popular as a light harness horse.
Haflinger Attractive breed of horse originating in Austria. Always chestnut in color, with light colored mane and tail.
Halter Evaluates conformation of the Horse as a breed. Halter classes are divided by age and sex. Horses are shown with a leather halter and are traveled before the judges so that lameness and quality of movement can be evaluated. Horses are judged on balance, structural correctness, breed and sex characteristics and degree of muscling. Of these, balance is the most important.
Hand Unit of measure used to describe a horse. One hand equals 4 inches, partial measurements being described as the number of hands plus the number of remaining inches. For instance a horse 62 inches tall is 15 hands and 2 inches. This is said, “the horse’s height is fifteen two”
Hand breeding Breeding technique with both the mare and the stallion under direct human control.
Hand Gallop In English classes, this should be a definite lengthening of the stride with a noticeable difference in speed.
Handicap A race in which the weights are assigned depending on a horse’s past performance and ability. The racing secretary or handicappers assigns a range of weight which would theoretically cause horses to finish in a dead heat.
Handicapper The racing secretary or other official who assigns weight, handicaps, and races; also the journalist who analyzes a day’s racing card and reports his selections for the wagering public.
Handicapping Making a selection by determining relative qualities of horses through their past performance and class.
Handle The aggregate amount of money passing through the pari-mutuel machines and windows for a given period.
Hanoverian Popular sport horse derived from the breeding of German horses with Thoroughbred horses. Bred originally to refine the quality of cavalry and farm horses , but has evolved into a versatile horse which excels at many equestrian sports, including dressage, show jumping and eventing. See also Warmblood.
Harness Term for the equipment of a horse that is driven, as opposed to being ridden.
Harness Horse A horse used in harness and having “harness” type of conformation, with straight shoulders etc. and having an elevated “harness action”.
Head A margin between horses which describes one horse leading another by the length of his head.
Heaves Term used to describe the labored breathing pattern seen in horses with allergic pneumobronchitis. Also called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and an old time term is, “broke wind”.
Heavy A drying track that is muddy and drying out. Footing is heavy and sticky.
Heavy Horse Any large draft horse, such as the Shire, the Clydesdale, the Belgian Draft.
Heel crack Vertical crack located in the heel of the hoof that can involve the sensitive laminae.
Highland Pony One of the nine native breeds of Great Britain. Sturdy pony originating in the highlands of Scotland.
Hind 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 simply the quarters.
Hinny Offspring of a male horse (stallion) and a female donkey (jenny). This is different than a mule (See Mule).
Hock The joint of the horse’s rear leg that connects the gaskin and cannon bone; equivalent to the human ankle.
Holsteiner Breed of warmblood horse derived from native north German horses. Bred originally as a cavalry and carriage horse , but, with infusions of Thoroughbred blood, has evolved into a versatile sport horse which excels at many equestrian sports, including dressage, show jumping and eventing. See also Warmblood.
Homestretch The straightaway between the end of the far turn and the finish line.
Hoof The equine foot, includes the coronary band and all parts distal. Sometimes refers to only the horny parts of the foot. (Note The prefix horny may or may not be used when speaking of the external hoof structures).
Hoof angle The angle at which the dorsal line of the hoof intersects with the plane of its solar surface. Hoof angle can be measured with a tool called a hoof gauge or hoof protractor. Toe angle.
Hoof axis The imaginary line passing through the center of the bones of the pastern and continuing through the coffin bone parallel to its front surface.
Hoof capsule The insensitive, outer elements of the hoof which function as a “wrapper,” encapsulating and protecting the sensitive elements of the hoof. Although the term would generally apply to the hoof wall, it could also be inclusive of all the exfoliating elements The sole, the frog, and the periople.
Hoof horn Hard, slightly elastic horny material, which forms the protective outer wall of the foot.
Hoof rings Roughly horizontal distortions on the hoof wall which may be caused by changes in diet, environment, season, or by illness. Uneven hoof rings may indicate that the horse has been foundered. A.K.A Growth rings; fever rings.
Horsemanship The art of handling horses, equitation, and riding.
Hotblood Term describing horses of Arabian or Thoroughbred blood.
Humorous Main bone of the horse’s shoulder, located between the shoulder blade and elbow.
Hunt Seat Equitation Tests an Amateur or Youth’s ability to ride-not the performance of the horse. As in western horsemanship, contestants work on a predetermined pattern consisting of maneuvers such as changing gaits, traveling in a figure-8 pattern, and backing up as well as posting on correct diagonal, counter-cantering. Top riders return to be judged as they travel the perimeter of the arena performing gait changes at the judge’s discretion. Emphasis is placed on ability to sit correctly, hold the correct riding posture and control the horse on a precise pattern.
Hunter In England, a type of horse, rather than a breed, suitable for being ridden to hounds. In the US, a well mannered, smooth gaited jumping horse shown in Hunter Under Saddle and Hunter Over Fences classes.
Hunter Hack A transitional English class between hunter under saddle and working hunter. Horses are required to jump two fences then put on the rail to walk, trot and canter both directions in the ring. Emphasis is on manner and way of going on the flat and style over fences.
Hunter Under Saddle A preliminary class for English riding disciplines in which judges evaluate a hunter-type American Quarter Horse on the flat at a walk, trot and canter. Emphasis is placed on smoothness of gait, free-flowing stride and willingness to perform. Exhibitors must wear traditional English attire.
Hybrid A cross between a horse and one of the other equids, such as an ass or a zebra.
Hyper flexion Forcible over flexion of a limb or part.
Hyperextension Extreme or excessive extension of a limb.


Icelandic Horse Ancient breed of horse originating in Iceland. Known as versatile riding horses, exhibiting a unique gait, the tolt, or running walk.
Ileum Largest bone of the pelvis forming the “jumping bump” and point of hip.
Iliopsoas Muscle on the inside of the loin and pelvis, which flexes the hip and or the lumbo-sacral joint.
In the Money A horse finishing first, second or third in a race.
Inferior check Ligament Band of tissue connecting the deep flexor tendon to the knee.  Enables the tendon to provide support to the knee without muscular effort.
Inquiry The stewards’ immediate investigation into the running of a race which may result in the disqualification of one or more horses.
Interosseous ligament Any ligament between bones.  The best known in the horse is the suspensory ligament.
Invitational A race in which the field of competing horses is selected by inviting horse owners to enter a specific horse.
Irish Draught Horse Breed of draught/draft horse originating in Ireland. Popular for crossing with lighter breeds to produce the Irish Sport Horse.


Jack Male donkey.
Jack spavin Bone spavin.
Jenny Female donkey. Also Jennet.
Jockey Professional rider; also, to maneuver a horse in a race.
Jockey Agent Person employed by a jockey to secure mounts.
Jog In Western classes, a smooth, ground-covering two-beat diagonal gait.
Joint Anatomically, where no moveable bones meet.
Joint capsule Saclike fluid membrane that encloses a joint space and secretes joint fluid.
Jumper Type of horse suited to jumping and which competes in jumping classes.
Jumping Jumping is a true test of a horse’s athletic ability to perform over fences. Jumping consists of at least four obstacles and a minimum of eight jumps. Scores are based on time and penalty faults. Faults are assessed when a horse refuses to jump, knocks down an obstacle, or causes an obstacle to be knocked down. Horses completing the course without faults return to compete in a timed “jump-off” to determine final placings.
Junior Refers to age of horse in competition; depending on the breed junior horses are five years and younger.
Juvenile A two-year-old American Quarter Horse and the youngest age at which one can race.


Knock knee Inward angulations of the carpus.
Knockdown In over fence classes, an obstacle is considered knocked down when a horse or rider lowers any part of an obstacle.
Knock-Kneed Conformation fault in which the knees point in toward each other.


Lame Describes a horse who is suffering sufficient pain and/or mechanical defect to interfere with normal movement and weight bearing in one or more limbs. Limping.
Lamina (plural laminae) The tissues which attaches the coffin bone to the hoof wall. The inner laminae are attached to the bone and are called sensitive laminae. The outer laminae are attached to the wall and are called horny laminae. With magnification from the solar viewpoint, the horny and sensitive laminae can be seen to be folded together or interdigitated. The unique structure of the laminae give the coffin bone/hoof wall union several square feet of attachment surface while allowing the wall to grow down in relation to the bone.
Laminae Alternating “leaves” of flesh and hoof horn that bond the wall of the hoof to the underlying bone.
Laminitis Disturbance of the sensitive plates of soft tissue, or laminae, in the horse’s foot.  Acute laminitis refers to a disturbance with rapid onset and brief duration, while chronic laminitis is a persistent, long-term disturbance.  In severe cases, either one may result in founder, an internal deformity of the hoof.
Laryngeal Hemiplegia Partial paralysis of the larynx causing difficulty in breathing and a characteristic noise, known as roaring as the horse breathes.
Lateral (1) The outer side, away from the centerline. Opposite of medial. (2) On the same side of the horse; such as the near foreleg and the near hind. (3) Towards or on the side of something.
Lateral Cartilages Cartilage structures which extend, one on the lateral and medial side of the coffin bone, from the quarter to the heel. These form part of a structure that aids in circulation of the hoof during walking. Also called collateral cartilages.
Lateral extensor tendon This tendon assists the common extensor tendon in extending the front leg and the long extensor tendon in extending the hind end. The LET is anatomically different in the front and hind limbs of the horse. In the front limb, the LET runs separately but parallel to the CDET and inserts on the upper end of the outside surface of the long pastern bone just below the fetlock joint. In the hind limb, the LET may vary, but generally joins the LEDT just below the hock. Occasionally it will form an attachment on the long pastern bone. Horses with the condition known as “stringhalt” will sometimes have that portion of the let which passes over the hock surgically removed.
Left Lead The horse’s left foreleg extends during a lope or canter.
Length Unit of measurement in racing and charting terminology. The length of an American Quarter Horse, the distance from the horse’s nose to the tip of his flying tail, is .16 seconds (16/100ths), while the length of a Thoroughbred is .20 seconds (20/100ths).
Ligament Tough connective tissue that joins bone to bone or tendon to bone.
Ligamentum nuchae Ligament running from poll to withers, helping to support the horse’s head.
Light Horse Horse, other than a heavy horse or pony, which is suitable for riding or carriage work.
Lippizan/Lippizaner Elegant breed of horse from Europe. Most famous for their performances in the Spanish Riding School in Austria.
Live Weight The weight of a jockey that a horse carries versus dead weight such as lead pad, which does not move with the horse’s action.
Loins The weakest part of the horses back, lying either side of the vertebrae, just behind the saddle.
Long digital extensor tendon. The main extensor tendon, is found in the hind limb, and is essentially the same from the hock down, as the common digital extensor tendon is below the knee.
Longissimus Dorsi Longest muscle of the back, paralleling and next to the backbone.
Lope In Western classes, an easy, rhythmical three-beat gait.
Lumbosacral Joint between the last vertebra of the small of the back and the sacrum, the fused portion of the spine, forming the upper limit of the pelvis.


Maiden A horse that has never won a race.
Maiden Race A race for non-winners.
Mammoth Jack Breed of donkey known for its large size and height.
Mare Female horse aged four and over.
Match Describes a challenge race between two horses.
Maxilla Bone that forms the upper jaw.
Medial Inside, toward the center line of the body. The inside half of the limb.
Medial patellar ligament Largest of the three ligaments holding the patella in place on the lower end of the thighbone
Metacarpals Three leg bones located between the knee or hock and the fetlock, known as the second, third and fourth metacarpal bones.  The third and largest metacarpal bone is the cannon bone; the other two metacarpals are rudimentary and do not reach the joint below.
Metatarsal Area between the hock and fetlock joint of the hind leg; the hind cannon.
Minus Pool When a horse is so heavily played by bettors after the deduction of the state tax and commissions, not enough money remains in the pool to pay off the legally prescribed minimum.
Missouri Foxtrotter Breed of gaited horse developed in the Ozark Mountain region of Missouri.
Morab Horse Breed of horse derived from crossing Morgan horses with Arabians.
Morgan Horse Gentle and elegant breed of horse developed in the 1780’s. The founding stallion was a bay colt named Figure, owned by Justin Morgan, from whom the breed gets its name.
Morning Line The approximate odds usually printed on the program and posted on the totalizator board prior to any wagering. The morning line is a prediction of how the wagering will go on a race.
Mount Fee The flat fee earned by a jockey who has not finished in the top three where he might earn a percentage of the purse.
Mudder Horse that races well on a muddy track.
Muddy Racetrack footing where water has soaked into the base and is soft and wet. The footing is deep and slow.
Mule Offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. See also Hinney.
Mustang Wild horse of the American West.
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.
Mutual Pool The total amount wagered on a race in each ticket category. The total number of winning tickets in the win category share the entire pool equally after the takeout is deducted. The same is true of the Daily Double and other exotic pools. The place pool is divided into two parts and the show pool into three parts and divided among the holders of winning tickets on the horses involved.


Narrow behind (in front) The hind feet (front feet) are closer together than the hips (shoulders).
Native Ponies Another name for the Mountain and Moorland breeds of the UK – i.e. New Forest, Exmoor, Dartmoor, Highland, Fell, Dale, Shetland, Connemara and Welsh.
Navicular Inflammation and/or fracture of the navicular bone.  Characteristic defect in gait resulting from the same horse trying to protect his sore heels.
Navicular bone Small, boat shaped bone located behind the coffin joint in the hoof; regulates the angle at which the deep flexor tendon attaches to the coffin bone.
Navicular bursa Saclike pouch between the navicular bone and the deep flexor tendon.
Navicular disease Degenerative heel lameness. May involve the navicular bone, navicular bursa, DDF and the coffin joint. A.K.A Navicular syndrome
Near or nearside The left side of the horse. Horses are most often led, saddled, and mounted from the near side.
Neck Unit of measurement: a quarter of a length equal to the length of a horse’s neck.
Nerve Block Diagnostic tool in which the veterinarian progressively blocks the nerves of the hoof and leg in order to determine the seat of a lameness.
Neurectomy Removal of a section of nerve to eliminate or reduce sensation in part of an animal’s body. This procedure is often performed to alleviate pain within the horse’s hoof. After such a neurectomy, the horse may not be considered entirely sound because the mechanical cause of the problem still exists.
New Forest Pony One of the native breeds of Great Britain, originating in the New Forest area of Hampshire.
Norwegian Fjord Horse Ancient breed of horse originating in Norway. See also Fjord Horse.
Nose Smallest advantage by which a horse can win.


Objection A claim of foul in a race lodged by a horse’s jockey, trainer, owner, or the owner’s authorized agent before the race is declared official.
Occult spavin Arthritis of the lower joints of the hock.
Off the Board Used to describe a horse that has finished worse than fourth.
Official The designation given to the result of a race by the stewards when any occurrences that affected the actual order of finish have been decided in terms of pari-mutuel payoffs to winning bettors.
Offside The right hand side of the horse.
Oldenburg Breed of horse originally used as a carriage horse in Europe. Since the early twentieth century, the breed has been refined with infusions of Thoroughbred blood. Oldenburgs now excel in the dressage and jumping arenas.
Olecranon Point of the elbow, formed by the bony projection of the ulna.
Open knees Stage of development in which the distal radius growth plate is still cartilaginous
Ossification The hardening of soft tissues, such as ligament or cartilage, into bone. This is often a part of the natural aging process. Osteo- or oste- greek prefix meaning bone.
Osslets Refers to a number of abnormal conditions around the fetlock joints.  Usually denotes a swelling slightly above or below the center of the joint.  Affected horses travel with a short, choppy stride and show evidence of pain when the ankle is flexed. Caused by: Concussion; too-frequent racing of young horses.
Osteitis Inflammation of a bone.
Osteoarthritis Degeneration and inflammation of one or more joints due to excessive wear or joint weakness
Osteochondritis Disturbance in the conversion of cartilage to bone in the growth plates and or joint surfaces of the long bones of young, rapidly growing animals
Osteochondritis Dissecans Abnormal bone formation in a joint, which deforms the joint surface and causes cartilage to separate from the underlying bone.
Out of Refers to the horse’s maternal parentage. For example Discovery is out of Ariadne.
Outrider The track employee who leads the post parade and who, along with his/her fellow outriders, keeps all the horses and jockeys in line and gets them to the starting gates on time, also catches any loose or runaway horses.
Outstanding Ticket Any winning pari-mutuel ticket which remains uncashed; also known as uncashed tickets or outs.
Overlay A horse going off at a higher price than he appears to warrant based on his past performances.
Overloading injury Injury that occurs when the volume of exercise is too great or the interval between workouts is too short.
Overnight A race for which entries close 72 hours or less before the post time for the first race on the day the race is to be run; also, the sheet available to horsemen at the racing secretary’s office showing the entries, post positions, weights and jockeys for the next race day.
Overo Coat pattern seen in Paint Horses. Uneven splashes of white over the horse’s belly, legs, neck and head. See also Paint Horse and Tobiano.
Overweight Pounds that a horse carries in excess of his officially assigned weight because jockey is too heavy.


P 3 The third phalanx. The most distal bone in each equine limb. It is situated completely within the hoof, and resembles the hoof in basic shape. Also Coffin bone; distal phalange; pedal bone; os pedis.
Pacer (Pacing) A horse which moves its legs in lateral pairs, rather than the conventional diagonal pairs.
Pack Horse Horse used to carry goods in packs placed in packs on either side of its back.
Paddling see Winging-out.
Paddock The area where the horses are saddled and viewed prior to a race.
Paddock Judge The racing official responsible for getting jockeys and horses in order to go to the gate; also checks the equipment used by each horse and supervises the saddling of the horses.
Paint Horse Breed of horse exhibiting pinto coloring. See also Tobiano and Overo.
Palmar The palm side. This refers to the back side of the lower part of the horses fore leg. In the back the term is plantar. Also Volar.
Palomino Coat color in which the body can be varying shades of gold, with a silver or white mane and tail.
Parietal Bones The bones on the top of the skull.
Pari-Mutuel From French meaning “wager amongst us”; the system for racetrack wagering that returns to winning bettors the amounts wagered by unsuccessful bettors, less takeout taxes to state, track and purse. Bettors wager against each other rather than against the horse, as in casino wagering.
Parrot mouth Hereditary problem in which the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw.  The reverse of this condition is called under bite or monkey mouth.
Part-bred Result of breeding a Thoroughbred with a horse of another breed i.e. Welsh part-bred.
Paso Fino Breed of horse, originally from Spain, known for it’s comfort and endurance.
Past Performance Information published by Daily Racing Form or the racetrack which gives information on a horse’s most recent races and works for handicapping purposes.
Pastern Area between the fetlock joint and the coronary band.
Pastern The sloping bone in the lower leg which connect the hoof to the fetlock.
Patella Triangular bone located over the stifle joint to serve as a pulley; the equine equivalent to the human kneecap.
Patrol Judge The racing official placed at critical points around the track in stands or towers, who observes the running of the race and reports back to stewards as to any interference or careless riding.
Pedal osteitis Severe and/or repeated bruising of the sole resulting in the inflammation of the P3
Pedigree Details of parentage and ancestry recorded in a studbook or registry.
Percheron Breed of draft horse, originally bred in the Normandy region of France, but popular throughout the world
Performance Class A class in which either the horse or the exhibitor is judged upon their actions.
Periople Thin, varnish-like outer layer of the hoof, which keeps moisture in.
Periosteum Fibrous membrane covering bones.  Produces cells responsible for bone repair and thickening.
Periostitis Inflammation of the periosteum.
Peruvian Paso Breed of horse, derived from the Paso Fino, displaying a comfortable ambling gait. National horse of Peru.
Phalanges Term referring to three bones of the horse’s foot: (1) long pastern bone; (2) short pastern bone; (3) coffin bone.
Phalanx Any of the major bones in a digit. The plural “phalanxes” is used only for the military (non-anatomic) meaning of this word. The plural phalanges is used in anatomy.
Photo-Finish A very close finish in which only careful viewing of the photo-finish picture can determine the order of finish.
Piebald English term for body color of white with black patches.
Pigeon toed Condition in which a horses feet point in because the legs are turned inward from their origin down
Pig-eye Eye which is considered to be to small
Pinto Term for coat color of white with patches of another color. See also piebald and skewbald
Place A wager in which you collect if your horse finishes first or second in a race. The place position is the second place spot.
Placing Judge The racing official in charge of the official placing or order of finish of horses during and after the running of a race through the viewing of the race, especially at the finish, and the viewing of the photo-finish strip with the stewards. At some tracks the steward also serves as the placing judge.
Plantar The back side of the horse’s lower hind leg.
Plantar cushion Thick pad of fibrous tissue placed behind and under the navicular and coffin bones resting on the sole and frog.  Receives downward pressure of the leg’s column of bones for shock absorption.
Pleasure Driving English rail class tests the horse’s ability to pull a two-wheeled cart and driver along the perimeter of the arena. The horse is exhibited at a walk and two speeds of trot called park gait and road gait. The horse is judged on straight and free movement, manners and a bright expression while staying under the drivers control at all times. Horses must not break into a canter at any time.
Points (i) External features of the horse making up its conformation. (ii) In relations to coat color, the points are the lower legs, mane and tail. For example, bay with black points is a bay with black lower legs as well as the customary black mane and tail.
Pole Bending A timed event in which the speed and agility of the horse are tested as horse and rider weave through a course of six poles spaced 21 feet apart, twice circling end poles before turning and racing to the finish line. The pattern must be followed exactly. A five-second penalty is added for each pole knocked down.
Poles Markers around the track indicating the distance to the finish line.
Poll Highest point of the head, located just between the ears
Poll evil Inflamed condition in the area of the poll usually caused by bruising.
Polyarthritis Inflammation of several joints.
Pony A small horse, standing 14.2 or less.
Popped knee Enlargement of the front of the carpus.  Often results from thickening of the joint capsule and carpal arthritis, associated with racing injuries to those structures
Post The starting point for the race.
Post legs Very straight legs with wide-open joints.  Generally, post legs are short legs.
Post Parade The time period prior to the race when horses leave the paddock, come in the racetrack and parade in front of the grandstands for review.
Post Position A horse’s position in the starting gate from the inside rail out, decided by a drawing at the close of entries prior to the race, with the approval of the starter.
Post Time The official time set by the stewards and the mutual department at which a race will start and the horses are required to be at the post and ready to start.
Posterior Toward the rear end of the body.
Primitive A term used for the early sub-species of Equus caballus the Asian Wild Horse, the Tarpan, the Forest Horse and the Tundra Horse.
Program The official program is published and sold only by the racing association; also, includes all vital information on the day’s racing card, including race number, conditions, distance, types of betting, horse’s names, numbers, jockeys, and weight.
Protest A written complaint signed by the protestor against any horse which has started in a race, and shall be made to the Stewards within 48 hours after the running of the race.
Proximal In reference to limbs, proximal means close to the torso, or comparatively closer to the torso. Opposite of distal.
Purebred A horse with both parents being of the same breed.
Purse The prize monies offered in a race, generally made up of the added money based on handle and/or sponsor’s contribution, and any nomination, sustaining or entry fees.


Quarter crack 1. Any sandcrack in the quarters of the hoof wall. May be superficial or penetrating; basal or coronary. 2. This term has been used to specifically denote a coronary sandcrack in the quarter.
Quarters 1. 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 hind quarters. 2. Quarter a portion of the hoof between the heel and the toe.
Quinella Wager in which the first two finishers must be picked, but payoff is made no matter which wins and which runs second.
Quittor Seeping sore at the coronet of the hoof, usually over the area of the lateral cartilages.


Racing Secretary The official who writes the conditions for the races, assigns the weights for handicap races, receives entries, conducts the draw, and is responsible for operation and organization of the race office.
Radius Principle bone of the forearm
Refusal In over fence classes, when a horse stops in front of an obstacle and takes one step backward.
Refuse When a horse will not break from the gate.
Reining Judges the horse on movements, mastery of prescribed maneuver and attitude as he is guided through one a designated pattern. The horse is required to perform a number of stops, spins, rollbacks, lead changes and circles at a lope. The horse should be willing to be guided with little or no resistance.
Restricted Stakes A stakes race in which conditions limit the participants based upon certain criteria. The more common restricted stakes race are state-bred races and races written for horses purchased through or consigned to a certain sale.
Riding Horse Horse suitable for riding, with the conformation associated with comfortable riding action (as opposed to draft or carriage horses)
Ringbone Name given to bony changes occurring within the pastern and coffin joints. May be articular or non-articular. Lameness often occurs while changes are occurring but may go away once callosity is completely formed. High ringbone is in or near the pastern joint and is usually palpable. Low ringbone is in or near the coffin joint, and often is not directly visible. Articular ringbone actually involves a joint. Periarticular ringbone is located around, but not within a joint. Exostosis on the pastern bones, between the joints, is called false ringbone or non-articular ringbone.
Roach Back Convex curvature of the spine between the withers and the loins. Opposite of hollow back.
Road founder Mechanical failure of the hooves caused by extreme concussion and resulting from in separation of the sensitive and insensitive layers of soft tissue from the hoof horn.
Road Gait In pleasure driving; an extended trot showing a definite lengthening of stride, with a noticeable difference in speed.
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.
Roaring Whistling or wheezing when respiration is speeded up during exercise.  Can be corrected surgically.
Roman Nose The convex facial profile seen in Shires and other heavy breeds.
Run Out In over fence classes, this occurs when the horse evades or passes the obstacle to be jumped.


Sacroiliac Area surrounding the joint between the sacrum and ileum and their associated ligaments
Sacrum Triangular solid mass of vertebrae between the lumbar vertebrae and the tail, covered dorsally by the two ilea.
Saddle Horse A riding horse.
Saddlebred Flashy breed of horse, originating in the US, known for its spectacular gaits.
Sagittal A sagittal plane divides the left side from the right. Hoof anatomy models are often cut into sagittal section.
Sandcrack A hoof crack parallel to the horn tubules. May be superficial or penetrating, and can occur anywhere in the hoof wall.
Scapula Shoulder blade
Schooling Race A non-pari-mutuel preparatory race which conforms to requirements adopted by the state racing commission.
Scratch The act of withdrawing an entered horse from a race after the closing of overnight entries.
SDF Superficial digital flexor tendon. A tendon which runs down the back of the leg, splits below the fetlock, and attaches to the P1 and PII. In the hind legs, the SDF acts primarily as a ligament of the stay apparatus.
Seedy toe Spreading of the white line, usually most prevalent and obvious in the forward, toe area of the hoof. The condition may be caused by a number of factors, although it usually is a sequel to chronic laminitis.
Senior Refers to age of horse in competition; depending on the breed senior horses are five or six years and older.
Sensitive laminae Component of the horn-producing tissue in the hoof, rich in blood and nerve endings.  Interlocks with insensitive laminae
Sesamoid bones Two small, pyramidal-shaped bones located behind the fetlock joint.  They are attached to the cannon bone above at the back of the knee and to the long pastern bone below by ligaments, forming the back of the fetlock joint just beneath the flexor tendons
Sesamoiditis Inflammation or dislocation of the proximal sesamoid bone(s). May involve an actual fracture of a sesamoid bone. Sesamoiditis can be the result of direct injury, uneven weight bearing, or fatigue. Also Popped sesamoid.
Sheared heels Failure of internal structures which normally bind the heels together. Allows the heels to flex apart more than normal, and can cause lameness. This term was sometimes used in the past to denote a jammed heel.
Shed Row Stable area with barns and walk-ways under roof.
Shetland Pony Small breed of pony originating from the Shetland Isles, north of Scotland. One of the British native breeds. Known for its hardiness.
Shin buck Inflammation of the bone on the front side of the cannon bone.  Often seen in young horses that have been strenuously exercised.
Shin splints A bony exostosis on the splint bone(s)
Shire Horse Breed of draft horse, originating in northern England. Once used as a war horse and later as farm and draft animals.
Shoe boil Soft, flabby swelling over the point of the elbow
Shoe boil An injury on the point of the elbow, such as a sore, abscess or bursitis, sometimes caused by heel of the front shoe.
Show A type of wager in which you collect if your horse finishes first, second or third in a race.
Showmanship at Halter A class for Youth and Amateur exhibitors only, it is designed to judge the showmanship skills of the exhibitors. Judges evaluate the grooming and fitting of the horse, and expertise of the exhibitor in presenting the horse. Each exhibitor is required to perform a pattern designed by the Judge with emphasis on preciseness of pattern and degree of confidence exhibited by the showman.
Sickle hocked A conformation fault in which the horse stands with his hind limbs bent more than normal at the hock, placing the hooves farther forward than ideal. Extreme sickle hocks can be considered an unsoundness.
Side bones Ossified lateral cartilages seen to protrude immediately above and toward the rear quarter of the hoof.  Lameness may or may not be present.
Silks (also called colors) Jockey’s racing shirt displaying the owner’s or post position colors.
Simulcast Televising races to other tracks, locations or outlets for the purpose of wagering.
Sinker A grave case of founder in which laminitis has destroyed so many of the laminae that the bone column is no longer suspended and begins to sink within the hoof.
Sire A horse’s male parent.
Skewbald English term for body color of irregular white and color patches other than black (i.e. brown, chestnut) Called pinto in the US.
Slab-sided Narrow ribbed.
Sloppy Racetrack footing during or immediately after a heavy rain; water has saturated the cushion and may form puddles. The base is still firm. Footing is splashy but even, and the running time remains fast.
Slow Racetrack footing is still wet, between heavy and good. Footing is heavy.
Snip White marking between or on the nostrils.
Sock White marking on any or all of a horse’s lower legs up to and including the fetlock.
Sole Surface of the foot.
Sole abscess Collection of puss under the sole of the foot
Sound The condition of a horse that is free of lameness, injury or illness.
Spavin Any swelling or abnormal growth in or on the hock. A “bog spavin” is a soft swelling on the medial and/or dorsal surface of the hock. A “blood spavin” is an enlarged vein, and a harmless blemish. A “bone spavin” is an exostosis on any of the tarsal bones. Large bone spavins are called “jack spavins”. “Blind” or “occult spavins” are exostosis not visible on the exterior of the hock.
Speed Event A class judged solely by a timer.
Speed Index (SI) An evaluation of a horses speed in a race versus the three fastest winning times for the same distance each year for the previous three years at the same track.
Splay foot Condition in which the feet turn outward because the legs turn out through the entire length.
Splint Bony exostosis on the splint bone to the cannon bone, forming a bump on the leg. Splints are usually caused by trauma or heavy stress on the legs of a young horse. Lameness may be evident during the “green” phase, but when ossification is complete, the splint is considered a blemish.
Splint bone Dither of the two long, slender bones which run along the back of each cannon bone. The splint bones are attached to the cannon bone by ligaments which eventually ossify and fuse the bones together. The inner splint bone is the second metacarpal in the fore limbs and the second metatarsal in the hinds. The outer splint bone is the fourth metacarpal in the fore and the fourth metatarsal in the hinds.
Splints Abnormal bony growths, which can occur on the inside and/or outside of the cannon bone.  Most common on the inside.  Splints may enlarge or be high enough to interfere with normal knee or hoof movement. Caused by: Concussion or direct trauma. Poor conformation and nutrition imbalance also contribute.
Stake Race An event for Youth exhibitors only, the stake race is a timed competition consisting of markers set on either side of a center line. Contestants are given a running start to complete a figure-8 pattern. They must cross the center line between upright markers, head to either the right or left of the first pole, make a 180 degree turn, head to the second pole, turn around in the opposite direction and then to the center line to stop the clock.
Stakes Races in which stakes of $50 or more are to be posted by the owners of the horses engaged. May have other prize money added as well. Nominations must close more than 72 hours before time for the first race of the day. Conditions cannot exclude entries in any way other than age or sex. No race with a purse less than $10,000 will be recognized as a stakes for black type.
Stakes Placed Finishing second or third in a stakes race.
Stakes Producer A mare that has produced at least one foal that finished first in a stakes race.
Stakes Race Types of races that offer the largest purses (prize money). They are races in which the purse consists of nomination, entrance and/or starting fees, plus money added by the racetrack or sponsor. These are the types of races that are graded G1, G2, or G3. (See Graded Race)
Stallion Uncastrated male horse; “stud”.
Standardbred Breed of horse popular as a harness racer.
Standing under Description of a limb that is placed too far beneath the horse when viewed from side
Star Name given to any white marking on the horse’s forehead.
Starter The track official that has complete jurisdiction over the starting of the horses and authority to give orders necessary to ensure a fair start; a horse that is in the starting gate when his stall door opens as the field
Starters Allowance An allowance or handicap race restricted to horses which have started for a specific claiming race.
Starting Gate An electro-mechanical structure in which horses are loaded. All stall doors open simultaneously when the starter dispatches the field, ensuring a fair start.
Stay apparatus The configuration of anatomical structures which allow the horse to remain in the standing position with extremely little muscular effort.
Steward Racetrack official that presides over the race meeting, has superior jurisdiction over all racing officials, rules on claims of foul or any protests, imposes fines and suspensions. Is responsible to the racing commissions for the enforcement of the rules and regulations as stipulated in the state statutes. The board of stewards consists of three members at all racetracks.
Stifle joint Joint of the horse’s upper hind leg corresponding to the human knee
Stifled A stifled horse suffers from recurring, temporary immobilization of the hock due to the locking of the patella. This condition can be corrected through surgery. Also Upward Fixation of the Patella.
Stock Horse Name given to horses that are used in ranch work, driving and cutting cattle etc.
Stocking White marking on any or all of a horse’s legs which extends above the fetlocks. Those just part of the way up the cannon may be referred to as a half stocking.
Stone bruise Bruising and/or inflammation that occurs in the sole of the foot due to stepping on a hard object.
Straight behind A horse that is “straight behind” has less than normal angulations of the hock and stifle joints. Also called “post legged
Strain Non-tearing damage to a muscle, tendon, or ligament; caused by overuse or overstress
Stretch Final straightaway portion of the racetrack to the finish line.
Stretch Call Position of horses at designated pole markers, dependent upon the length of the race.
Stringhalt Involuntary flexing of the hock, causing the hind leg to be spasmodically jerked up during walking
Stripe Elongated white marking down the front of the horse’s face. (Also called a blaze)
Stud Projection on the bottom of a horseshoe to increase traction.  Also the colloquial name for a stallion.  British name for a breeding farm.
Stud A stallion used for breeding. Breeding establishment – stud farm.
Substance A horse possessing quality build and musculature is said to “have substance”. Weakly built horses are said to “lack substance”
Superficial crack Any kind of hoof crack which does not expose sensitive tissues or cause lameness. Also
Superficial flexor tendon This tendon travels differently in the front and hind legs. In front, the SFT passes down the back of the leg and bifurcates (divides) below the fetlock and attaches to the bottom end of the long pastern and upper end of the short pastern bone at the pastern joint. At the sesamoids, it passes over and forms a collar around the deep flexor tendon. It is most frequently the tendon that develops tendonitis or bowed tendon syndrome. The SFT of the hind leg functions mostly as a ligament in the “stay apparatus” of the limb. The SFT passes through the center of a small muscle mass from the back of the femur and attaches to the point of the hock. Below the hock there is no muscular effect on the tendon, it acts completely as a ligament.
Suspensory Ligament Suspensory ligament is attached to the cannon bone and back of the carpus runs deep to the flexors between the two splint bones then distally over the fetlock and attaches to the proximal pastern. The suspensory helps suspend the fetlock.
Swan neck Term denoting the downward arch of the upper and lower sides of the neck
Sweeney Condition involving shrinkage of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles in the shoulder of the horse. Depression in the muscle mass of the shoulder caused by an injury to a nerve resulting in lack of innervations.
Synovial fluid Sticky, transparent lubricating fluid in joint cavities and tendon sheaths.  Secreted by the synovial membrane
Synovitis Inflammation of the synovial membrane or synovial sacs caused by an abrasion or laceration of the skin over the synovial structures.


Tarsus The hock joint.
Tattoo A form of identification in which racehorses are marked under the upper lip with a letter/number combination, which is also reflected on the registration certificate of American Quarter Horses. In American Quarter Horses a horse must be parentage verified prior to tattooing. In Quarter Horses the letter/number combination is five numbers or four numbers ending in a letter.
Team Penning A timed event in which a team of three riders must sort three specifically numbered head of cattle from a herd and pen them at the other end of the arena within 90 seconds. All cattle, except the ones being penned must be kept on one side of the starting line (often called “cattle side”) until time is called.
Tendonitis Tendon inflammation due to strain or injury and causing tenderness and lameness.
Tendon Strong fibrous tissue which connects muscle to bone. Tendons function primarily to facilitate movement. Tendons slide within lubricated sheaths, are inelastic, and are subject to sprains and ruptures.
Tendon sheath Tube enveloping a tendon.  Secretes lubricant to reduce tendon friction at points of stress
Tendosynovitis Trauma and inflammation of the synovial sheath of the tendon.
Tennessee Walking Horse Breed of horse originating in the American south, bred for comfort and exhibiting characteristic gaits.
Tenotomy Surgical severing of a tendon.
Thoracic Pertaining to the chest.
Thoroughbred Breed of horse, originating in England, used as a race horse and also to add refinement to other breeds of horse.
Thoroughpin Soft swelling of the tendon sheath of the DDF just above the point of the hock. This swelling is often visible on both sides of the limb. Thoroughpin rarely results in lameness, but does indicate weakness in the hock, excessive stress, trauma , or a combination of these.
Thrush Infection of the tissues of the frog by micro-organisms. This is seen as a foul smelling black crud or discharge in the commissures and frog. Advanced cases may invade sensitive tissues and cause lameness.
Tibia Larger of the two bones of the gaskin
Tibia tarsal bone One of the two large bones in the upper part of the hock.  Together with the lower end of the tibia, forms a joint to provide most of the motion of the hock
Tied in at the knee Condition occurring when the flexor tendons appear to be too close to the cannon bone just below the knee
Tied in Below the Knee Where the measurement below the knee is substantially less than that above the fetlock. Conformation fault.
Timer Electrical timing requires photo-finish cameras and equipment, which are activated by opening of the starting gate. The photo-finish camera records each horse on a moving strip of film as that horse crosses the finish line. A timing strip is visible across the top of the photo-strips, which reflects the time of each horse at the finish line in 1/100ths of a second.
Toe crack Term for a deep vertical crack located at the toe of the horse’s foot
Toed in The horse’s digit appears to be twisted inward. This conformation fault usually causes the afflicted limb to wing-out. Horses that are toed in on both fore feet are called pigeon-toed.
Toed out The horse’s digit appears to be twisted outward. This conformation fault usually causes the afflicted limb to wing-in. Toed out horses may be prone to brushing.
Tongue Strap Strap or tape bandage used to tie down a horse’s tongue to prevent choking in a race or workout.
Tote board A display board in the infield on which data is posted electronically. Data includes approximate odds, total amount wagered in each pool, track condition, post time, time of day, result of race, official and inquiry signs, running time of each race and the mutual payoffs after each race is declared official, as well as other pertinent information.
Track Record Fastest time at each distance recorded at a particular track.
Track Superintendent The official responsible for maintaining acceptable racing and training track conditions during race meet.
Trail The trail class tests the maneuverability of an American Quarter Horse through an obstacle course. Mandatory obstacles include one in which the rider will open, pass through and close a gate. Scoring is based on the horse’s willingness, ease and grace in negotiating the course. The other two mandatory obstacles are riding over at least four logs or poles and one backing obstacle.
Trakehner Breed of warmblood horse, popular in a variety of equestrian sports.
Trifecta (Triple) A wager in which the first three finishers must be chosen in exact order.
True osselet Chronic abnormal growth of new bone in front of the fetlock joint.
Turf Term used for infield grass course on which some races are run.
Type A horse that fulfills a certain purpose, such as a cob, a hack or a hunter, but is not necessarily of any particular breed.


Ulna Smaller bone of the forearm, lying toward the back of the radius.  Upper end of the ulna forms the point of the horse’s elbow.
Underrun heels The slope of the heels is shallower than that of the toe as viewed from the side. This reduces the posterior support of the hoof. Heels need not be short to be underrun. Also Run-under heels and underslung heels.
Undershot A deformity in which the lower jaw projects beyond the upper
Unilateral On one side only.
Unsound Describes a horse who suffers from a defect or condition which could lead to lameness. An unsound horse might not be currently lame.
Unsoundness Term used to describe any condition, or conformation fault that limit the horse’s ability to perform his job. Including sidebone, ringbone, roaring and others.


Valgus Deviating laterally or bent outward away from the midline or body.
Varus Deviating medially or bent inward toward the midline or body.
Ventral Pertaining to the underside of an animal that moves on all fours, or the front surface of one that holds its body erect.
Volar Pertaining to the solar side or posterior region of the lower leg.


Wall The hard outer shell of the hoof, made of tiny hair like tubules called insensitive laminae. The wall of the hoof supports the horse’s weight. The wall angles backward at each end, forming the bars. These aid in absorbing shock, allowing the foot to expand under pressure.
Warm down Terminal part of a workout in which there is a gradual reduction in exercise intensity to facilitate the transition from exercise to rest.
Warm Up A slow gallop or canter to the starting point of the race.
Weanling A colt or filly weaved from its mother (usually 6 months to 1 year of age).
Well-Sprung Ribs Long rounded ribs giving ample room for lung expansion, well suited to carrying a saddle.
Western Horsemanship Designed to test the horsemanship abilities of Youth and Amateur riders using western tack. Divided into two sections, riders first follow a prescribed pattern of maneuvers at a walk, trot or lope. Finalists ride as a group around the perimeter of the arena. Judging focuses on the rider’s body position, seat in the saddle and ability to control the horse.
Western Pleasure One of the most popular AQHA show events is western pleasure. Contestants compete simultaneously, traveling the perimeter of the arena, and at the discretion of the Judge, are asked to walk, jog, lope and reverse the direction of the horse. Horses are evaluated on quality of movement while staying quiet and calm, traveling on a loose rein.
Western Riding Judges the abilities of the American Quarter Horse to change leads precisely, easily and simultaneously, using both hind and front legs. Following one of three patterns consisting of a log and a series of pylons, the horse and rider must change gaits-from a walk to a jog or a lope-through-out the course. Reward is given to the horse that changes fluidly and precisely between the middle of the pylons within the pattern.
White line The border between the sole and the hoof wall as seen on the solar view of the hoof. Usually colored pale yellow, as opposed to the water line which is normally white.
Win Type of wager in which one collects only if a horse wins the race.
Windpuff A soft swelling which appears on either side of the fetlock area. Windpuffs are generally considered blemishes, but may indicate excessive strain which could lead to more serious trouble. “Articular windpuff” is the distention of the fetlock joint capsule. “Tendinous windpuff” involves the DDF sheath. Also Windgall; hygromata; road puff; popped ankle. Caused by: Full training, followed by abruptly stopping exercise.
Winging-in A deviation in gait in which the hoof arcs inward (under the horse) in flight. Winging-in is often seen in horses with toed-out conformation, and may lead to interference.
Winging-out A deviation in gait in which the hoof arcs outward in flight. Winging-out is often seen in horses with toed-in conformation, and while it is more obvious to the untrained eye than winging-in, it is less likely to cause interference. Also Paddling.
Winner’s Circle The enclosure adjacent to the racing oval where a winning horse is brought for a ceremonial win photo with the owner, trainer, and their friends.
Withers Point at the bottom of the horse’s neck from which the horse’s height is measured.
Working Cow Horse Combines reining ability and cow sense. This event tests the American Quarter Horse’s skills that are applicable to ranch work. The competition consists of two parts; prescribed reined work and actual cow work. Judging is based on good manners, smoothness, cow sense and ease of reining. During the cow working part, one cow is turned into the arena. The horse is required to hold the cow on the end of the arena, make at least one turn each direction along the fence, and circle the cow both directions.
Working Hunter An English event which demonstrates the gracefulness of the American Quarter Horse as it maneuvers a course consisting of at least four obstacles but must jump a minimum of eight fences. Manners, style of jumping, flow of strides, balance and keeping an even hunter pace are factors in the Judges’ scoring.
Wry foot Pathology of the hoof wherein the wall at the heel(s) has folded under, and the horse in walking on the side of the hoof wall rather than on the ground surface. In extreme cases the entire side of the hoof may be involved. Also Rolled/folded under from toe quarter to heel.


Yearling A colt or filly between 1 and 2 years of age. After 18 months may be known as a long yearling.