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Common Horseriding Terms


fast horse ridingAbove the bit: An action of the horse in which they raise their head over the level that their hands can reach reducing the amount of control the rider has over the horse.

Action: Movement of the horse's legs

Aids: Aids are signals and cues used to communicate with the horse. There are natural cues such as voice, legs, hands and weight and artificial cues which include whips and spurs.

Airs Above the Ground: A set of movements performed by highly trained horses that involve either the front legs or all four legs being off the ground. They include moves such as the levade and the capriole.

Amble: A slow, laterally pacing gait

Back: A step taken backwards

Barrel Racing: A timed Western riding event where the horse and rider move in a clover leaf pattern around a set of three barrels.

Bascule: The arc made by a horse as it jumps a fence.

Blistering: The application of a caustic or blistering agent to help treat a number of conditions. It is believed to help promote internal healing.

Bosal: A Western style of bitless bridle with a braided noseband.

Breaking or Breaking In: The early training of a young horse during which they are taught all the skills they will need for their future.

Broken In/ Broke to Ride/ Greenbroke: A horse that has been trained to accept tack and rider and is beginning their initial riding training.

Buck: A movement of the horse in which the horse leaps into the air with the head lowered and the back arched.

Canter: A three-beated gait in which one hind leg strikes first, followed by the opposite diagonal pair of legs, and finally the opposite fore leg. Also known as a Lope.

Capriole: A movement in which the horse leaps off the ground with all four legs and kicks with the hind legs mid-leap; an Air Above the Ground.

Cavelletti: Low wooden jumps that are adjustable and used in training a horse and rider.

Chip/ Chip In: A short, additional stride in front of a fence.

Chukker: A period in a polo game that lasts seven and one half minutes.

Class: A specific grouping of horses and riders that perform according to specific rules at a show.

Collected: A controlled gait

Cooling Out: The process of cooling down a horse after they have been worked, including walking, brushing, small drinks of water and sponging off.

Combined Training or Eventing: A competition held over one to three days that includes the disciplines of dressage, cross country and show jumping.

Crow Hopping: A hop or leap into the air with all four feet off the ground at the same time.

Cues: Another name for aids

Dishing: An action in which the foot of the foreleg is moved outward in a circular movement with each stride.

Disunited: A canter in which the horse's legs fall out of sequence.

Diagonals: Diagonals are the movements of the horses legs at a trot; left foreleg and right hindleg is a left diagonal. A right diagonal is the opposite.

Dressage: The training of a horse so they are completely obedient and responsive while being supple and agile in performance, as well as a competitive sport in which the horse's natural movement and level of training are judged against an ideal.

Driving: Where a horse or group of horses pull a vehicle such as a cart or wagon.

Engagement: Where the hindlegs are brought well under the body.

Equitation: The art of horse riding

Extension: The opposite of collection; where the frame and stride are lengthened.

Flat Race: A race without jumps

Forging: A faulty gait in which a hind foot strikes the bottom of the foot in front on the same side.

Gait: The pace at which a horse is moving; walk, trot, canter or gallop.

Gallop: Four-beated horse gait in which each foot touches the ground separately.

Green: A horse in the early stages of learning.

Ground line: A pole placed in front of a fence to help a horse and rider judge the take off point.

Habit: Traditional riding attire

Half Halt: A way for the rider to grab the horses attention and signal a change in direction or gait.

Halter-broke: Used to describe a horse that has become accustomed to the beginning basics of halter wearing.

Halt: A horse at standstill

Horsemanship: Equitation or riding

In front of the bit: A horse that pulls or hangs heavily on the riders hand

In hand: A horse that is controlled from the ground rather than being ridden.

Leg Up: When an assistant helps the rider mount the horse by giving a boost as the rider springs off the ground.

Manege: A school or training area for horses.

Nearfore: The left front leg

Nearside: The horses' left hand side

Off fore: The right front leg

Offside: The horses' right hand side

On the bit: When a horse carries his head in a near vertical position and is calmly accepting the rider and the reins.

Outline: The shape the horse is working on

Outside Track: The path that goes around the edge of a school

Pacing: A type of gait in which the legs are moved in pairs.

Resistance: Reluctance or refusal from the horse to perform an action.

Rhythm: The cadence of footfalls and should be maintained at all times

Tilting: A head tip to an angle on one side making one ear higher than the other.

Transition: A change of gait.

Trot: A two time gait in which the legs are moved in diagonal pairs

Upper Body: The horse's core, including the shoulders, back, head and neck.

Warm Up: A series of exercises intended to loosen up the horse and ensure it is freely moving.


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