Like any sport or hobby, the equine world comes with its own special brand of jargon. Even if you are an active participant, all the unfamiliar words might lead you to believe you are learning a new language! If you’re confused when you hear us talk about a martingale, a stifle, or a Swedish oxer, don’t despair. For those who have no horse knowledge, are just starting out, or simply need a refresher, we’ll be going over common horse-related terms and phrases. So, the next time your child or significant other comes home talking about how they messed up the gymnastics but had a great ride down the six stride or jumped their first 2’6″ vertical … you at least have some idea what they are talking about! Feel free to email in or comment with anything you’re dying to learn about.
Rhymes and Rhythms
Horseback riders have lots of little rhymes and sayings to help us remember everything. Here are a few:
Rise and fall with the leg on the wall.
When posting at the trot, we rise and fall with the horse’s from leg that is on the outside of our turns. Riding in the arena, that leg is “on the wall,” or closest to the fence. If you can never remember which diagonal is the correct one, just tell yourself, “Rise and fall with the leg on the wall!”
Bight to the right.
The bight is the excess portion of the reins, the U-shaped loop that falls over the top of your hand. Traditionally, the bight should fall on the right side of the horse, between the reins and the horse’s shoulder. Why? The exact origins are lost in the mists of time, but if you want to be traditional, keep the bight to the right (never fear, competitors, the USEF rulebook states the bight can fall to either side).
No hoof, no horse.
Pretty simple – if your horse’s feet are in bad shape, the rest of your horse soon will be as well.
When in doubt, wait it out. OR when in doubt, leave a stride out.
When you can’t see your distance to a jump, to know when the horse is going to leap, there are two schools of thought – make it a big jump and take a long spot or sit and wait for the jump to come to you. Every rider has their preference!
One white foot, buy him
Two white feet, try him
Three white feet, eye him
Four white feet, deny him
There are many versions of this saying, and you may know a different one. There are a great many superstitions about horses and their coat colors or markings, and many people swear by certain colors or markings.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
Very, very true. Unless you make a slushy snack of senior feed and water, then they guzzle it down!