Horse people have their own specialised vocabulary, like most hobbies or occupations. Some of these words are familiar to non-horsemen, but most are understood by few. Some can even be a source of confusion to the non-initiate. Here are a number of terms used in the Upper Hunter Thoroughbred Industry provided by HTBA and the Scone Equine Hospital.
Conformation evaluates the degree of correctness of a horse's bone structure, musculature, and its body proportions in relation to each other.
Cover the mating of horses, sometimes known as a service. Unlike a significant number of registered breeds today, a horse cannot be registered as a Thoroughbred (with The Stud Book registry) unless conceived by “live cover”, the witnessed natural mating of a mare and a stallion. Artificial insemination (AI) and embryo transfer (ET), though commonly used and allowable in many other horse breed registries, cannot be used with Thoroughbreds.
Crop a term used to describe a group of young horses that have been selected for the sale ring, sometimes referred to as a sales draft.
Weanling a foal that has been weaned from its mother under 1 year old.
Yearling a foal that will be 1 year old from August of the current year.
Sire “Stallion” The father of the progeny/foal.
Gelding a male horse in its adolescent years (no longer a stallion).
Colt a young male uncastrated horse under the age of 4 years old.
Dam “Mare” the mother of the progeny/foal.
Mare a female horse in its adolescent years.
Filly a young female horse under the age of 4 years old.
Sprinter a racehorse bred or recognized as a powerful fast runner over short distances.
Stayer a racehorse bred or recognised as having endurance and preservation over long distances.
Nomination each Stallion has a number of matings/serves that can be offered in a breeding season for a set fee, the mare and the stallion need to be a good match for a “nomination” to be allotted to the mare.
Speller: term used for a racehorse (or any other breed of horse) that is having a rest period of weeks or sometimes months from training and racing. The horse is having ‘a spell’ in the paddock.
Agistment: is when an owner pays a horse stud a fee for them to paddock and feed and manage their horses.
Breeding season: mares (the female horse) cycle and therefore may become pregnant predominantly in the spring and summer time. This is called the breeding season. Thoroughbred breeding is regulated that they can only start breeding mares from the first day of Septmeber.
Maiden: is the term for a mare that has not yet had a foal. May also be used to describe a stallion that has not started breeding mares.
Colic: is the description for the clinical signs in the horse of pain in the abdomen such as pawing the ground or continually rolling. The colic may be due to a range of problems from painful flatulence through to a twisted intestine.
Service fee: the payment due from the mare owner to the stallion owner once she is diagnosed pregnant. Depending on the stallion, this amount can range from less than $1000 up to $110 000 for the top thoroughbred stallions.
Shuttle stallion: A stallion that moves from the southern hemisphere breeding season to the northern hemisphere breeding season therefore being able to breed mares for most of the year. The majority of the best Hunter Valley thoroughbred stallions shuttle each year.
Chukka: Is a period of play in polo. Polo matches will often consist of 4 chukkas of 7 minutes each with a fresh polo pony used by the rider for each chukka.
Camp: This is the term used for the yard of cattle in the sport of campdrafting from which the horse and rider selects and cuts out one ‘beast’ (a steer or heifer) before opening the gates to the arena and attempting to direct the animal around a figure of eight course.
Clear Round: When a horse and rider in a showjumping competition completes the entire set course of jumps without knocking any over it is called a clear round.