Horse Vocabulary – Part 1

By Arden Foster on December 19th, 2020

One of the aspects of being a wrangler that I love so much is the opportunity to share horses with the guests. I get to share them with people who are familiar and more comfortable with horses, and with those who are new to being around horses and riding them. It’s the latter group of people with that spark of awe in their eye that really inspires that” little girl love” for horses time and time again.

With all of our guests, we try to deepen their respect and knowledge of horses, so that everyone has a chance to better their horsemanship. When it comes to our newer riders, one of the big bridges to gap is the vocabulary that comes along with horses. We often times forget that some of the terms aren’t common knowledge, so it’s up to us to make sure that our guests pick up the lingo!

Below, I’ve defined some of the basic terms that any of the wranglers might use when talking about the horses, whether it’s looking at them in the corral, Jane’s Monday Morning Orientation, or when we are out on a ride.

Mare: these are your female horses. About 20% of our herd at the ranch is composed of mares, including our broodmares.

Broodmare: this word would be used to describe a mare that has foals annually. We have three broodmares at the ranch: Annie Oakley, Lariat, and BB Judy.

Foal: a foal is a newborn horse, and is called a foal until they are weaned off of their mother. A girl is called a “filly” and a boy is called a “colt.”

Stallion: the male horses that are intact and can breed mares are stallions, or stud horses. We only have one on the ranch, and he is an American Quarter Horse that we call Silver.

Gelding: this is used to define a castrated male. All (except for Silver of course) of our male horses on the ranch are geldings. This is to ensure that we don’t end up with any unintended foals, and it lowers their testosterone levels, making them generally calmer.

Hands: using the words “hands” is the unit of measurement used in the U.S. to determine height. Height on a horse is measured at the wither, or the shoulder blade, of the horse or pony. A hand is 4 inches

Pony: a pony is defined by height. Any horse under the size 14 hands, 2 inches, (or 58 inches) is considered a pony by technicality. Once a pony reaches 10 hands 2 inches, (or 42 inches) then it is classified as a miniature horse, like Sweet Pea to the right.

Fun Fact: We have two ponies at the ranch! One is named Holliday, and is famed because he has been a wonderful riding pony at the ranch for over 25 years. The other is Porkchop, and he is know for his hilarious personality and sassy attitude.


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