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Types of Horses: Glossary


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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There is a wealth of jargon used throughout the horse world. This is especially true when discussing horse types. Learning this vocabulary allows you to better understand articles, event language, and what trainers, farriers, veterinarians, and other horse owners are saying. The following list of terms, while in no way comprehensive, contains some of the terms used to discuss equine types.

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

Cart Horse: A coldblood draft horse.

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.

Combination Horse: One used for saddle and driving.

Daisy Clipper: Term describing a horse with a ground-hugging action.

Desert Horse: Term used to describe horses bred in dry, desert conditions, or horses descended from such horses.

Draft Horse: A term applied to any horse used for hauling vehicles or loads, but most often associated with the heavy breeds.

Equine: Of or pertaining to a horse.

Feral: A wild horse. Has escaped from domestication and become wild, as contrasted to one originating in the wild.

Five-Gaited: Horses shown at the walk, trot, and canter, as well as the "slow gait" and the "rack" are called five gaited.

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

Gaited Horse: Horses, which move at paces other than the walk, trot, and canter - such as the Saddlebred, the Paso Fino, and the Icelandic.

Hack: Elegant riding horses, popular in the show ring in England. Or: "to hack" i.e. to go for a ride.

Harness Horse: A horse used in harness and having "harness" type of conformation, with straight shoulders etc., and having an elevated "harness action."

Heavy Horse: Any large draft horse, such as the Shire, the Clydesdale, or the Belgian Draft.

Heavyweight: A horse that is judged, by virtue of its bone and substance, capable of carrying weights of more than 196 lbs.

Hinny: Offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. See also Mule.

Horse: General term for an animal of the horse kind.

Hotblood: Term describing horses of Arabian or Thoroughbred blood.

Hunter: A type of horse suitable for being ridden to hounds. In the U.S., a well-mannered, smooth-gaited jumping horse shown in Hunter Under Saddle and Hunter Over Fences classes.

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

Jack: Male donkey.

Jennet/Jenny: Female donkey.

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

Light Horse: Horse, other than a heavy horse or pony, which is suitable for riding or carriage work.

Mammoth Jack: Breed of donkey known for its large size and height.

Middleweight: A horse that is judged, by virtue of its bone and substance, capable of carrying weights up to 196 lbs.

Mountain and Moorland: Name given collectively to the native breeds of Britain.

Mule: Offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. See also Hinny.

Mustang: Wild horse of the American West.

Pack Horse: Horse used to carry goods placed in packs on either side of its back.

Part-bred: Result of breeding a Thoroughbred with a horse of another breed, i.e. Welsh part-bred.

Pony: A small horse, standing 14.2 hands or less.

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.

Quality: Fineness of texture; freedom from coarseness.

Racehorse: Horse bred for racing. Can be Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Arabian, or Standardbred.

Rangy: Used to describe a horse with size and scope of movement.

Riding Horse: Horse suitable for riding, with the conformation associated with comfortable riding action (as opposed to draft or carriage horses).

Rosin-back: A broad-backed horse used in the circus for trick riding acts.

Saddle Horse: A riding horse.

Stock Horse: Name given to horses that are used in ranch work, driving and cutting cattle, etc.

Stylish: Having a pleasing, graceful, alert, and general appearance.

Substance: A horse possessing quality build and musculature is said to "have substance." Weakly-built horses are said to "lack substance."

Three-gaited: A saddle horse trained to perform at the walk, trot, and canter.

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.

Utility: The use to which a horse is designated.

Western Pleasure: A class that demonstrates the ability of a horse to perform willingly at a walk, jog, and lope in a pleasurable manner demonstrating responsiveness to the rider and free-flowing quality gaits.

Wheeler: The horse harnessed closest to the carriage, behind the leader.

Zebra: Member of the family Equus characterized by its striped coat pattern.

Zony: Hybrid cross between a zebra and a pony.

Zorse: Hybrid cross between a zebra and a horse.

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