Got My Horse

Mastering Horse Riding Terminologies for Better Horsemanship

Horse riding has been a popular pastime and sport for centuries, with equestrians and riders spending countless hours learning and mastering different riding styles, techniques, and terminology. Whether you are a seasoned rider or a newcomer to the sport, it is important to have a good understanding of horse riding terminology and anatomy to improve your riding abilities and communicate efficiently with others in the horse riding community.

In this article, we will explore some of the most common horse riding terminologies and anatomy, which can help to enhance your horsemanship knowledge and experience.

Horse Riding Terminology

Horse riding terminology can seem overwhelming at first, but once you get familiar with it, it becomes easy to understand and incorporate in your riding lessons. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common terminologies used by riders and equestrians.

Synonyms for Riding Horse

A riding horse is typically referred to as a saddle horse or a steed. These terms can be used interchangeably and are often used to describe a horse used for under-saddle activities, such as showjumping, dressage, trail riding, and endurance riding.

Synonyms for Horse Rider

A horse rider is referred to as an equestrian, rider, jockey, or horseman. These terms are typically used to describe a person who rides horses for pleasure or in competitive events.

Types of Riding and Terms Used

  • Stock Horse

    A stock horse is a breed of horse that is bred for working on ranches, particularly in herding cattle.

  • Campdrafting Horse

    A campdrafting horse is a highly trained horse used in an Australian sport that involves cutting out a herd of cattle from a group and directing them through a set of obstacles.

  • Cutting Horse

    A cutting horse is a horse that is trained to separate a cow from a herd and control its movements through a set of obstacles.

  • Cowboy/Bronco/Buckaroo

    A cowboy, bronco or buckaroo is a term used to describe someone who works on a ranch and ropes, brand, and ride horses, cattle, and other animals.

  • Pony Trekking

    Pony trekking is a recreational activity that involves riding ponies in the countryside, often over long distances or rough terrain.

  • Showjumping

    Showjumping is a competitive riding sport that involves riders and horses jumping over a series of obstacles, which are marked with different levels of difficulty.

  • Dressage

    Dressage is an equestrian sport that involves riders and horses performing predetermined movements in a harmonious and precise manner.

  • Haute Ecole

    This is another form of dressage, which requires expert-level precision and discipline in the horse and rider.

  • Hack

    A hack is a competition that involves showing a horse’s ability to move gracefully and smoothly under-saddle.

  • Caballero

    A caballero is a skilled horseman that is trained in Spanish-style riding techniques.

  • Gaucho

    A gaucho is a horseman native to Argentina, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil who is skilled in herding and handling cattle.

  • Straphanger

    This term refers to a person who rides horses in a standing position, holding onto the horse’s tail or mane.

  • Cowpoke

    A cowpoke is a term used to describe a cowboy, often used in Western movies and literature.

  • Vaquero

    A vaquero is a Spanish term used to describe a cowboy or cattle driver.

  • Broncobuster

    A broncobuster is someone that specializes in breaking in and taming horses that have never been ridden before.

  • Cavalryman

    A cavalryman is a soldier that rides horses and fights off enemies in battlefields.

  • Ranahan/Ranny

    A ranahan or ranny is a person that is skilled in horsemanship and horse packing.

Group of Horses

  • Team

    A team is usually used to describe working horses that are harnessed together to pull a load.

  • Harras

    A harras is a group of horses.

  • Rag

    A rag is a group of horses.

  • Stud

    A stud is a group of horses.

  • Remuda

    A remuda is a group of spare horses kept by cowboys on a ranch to replace tired or overworked horses.

Horse Anatomy Terminology

Understanding horse anatomy terminology is important for every rider, as it allows them to better care for their horses and understand any issues or injuries that may arise. Let’s take a closer look at some of the essential horse anatomy terminology that every rider should know.

Parts of the Horse’s Body

  • Crest

    The crest is the upper part of the neck, where the mane grows.

  • Withers

    The withers is the highest part of the body, where the shoulders meet the neck. It is an essential area for saddle fitting.

  • Loin

    The loin is the area behind the saddle and before the croup, where the kidneys are located.

  • Croup

    The croup is the muscular area behind the hips. It is an essential muscle that aids in movement.

  • Dock

    The dock is the area under the tail, where the tailbone is located.

  • Gaskin

    The gaskin is the area between the stifle joint and the hock.

  • Hock

    The hock is the joint that connects the lower leg and the hindquarters.

  • Coronet band

    The coronet band is the area around the horse’s ankle, where the hoof grows.

  • Fetlock

    The fetlock is the joint between the cannon bone and the pastern.

  • Feathers

    The feathers are long hair growth around the horse’s ankles.

  • Pastern

    The pastern is the area between the hoof and the fetlock.

  • Stifle joint

    The stifle joint is the joint located between the thigh and the hip.

  • Cannon

    The cannon is the bone between the fetlock and the knee or hock.

  • Frog

    The frog is the cushioned area on the underside of the hoof, which aids in shock absorption.


Mastering horse riding terminology and anatomy can take years of study and practice, but understanding the basic concepts is essential for every rider. Whether you are a recreational rider or an experienced equestrian, learning these essential skills can help you to communicate better with other riders, care for your horse, and improve your horsemanship skills.

So, take the time to study these vital terminologies, and you will find horse riding more enjoyable, challenging, and fulfilling!

Horse riding is not only an activity that keeps riders active and physically fit, but it is also a sport that provides a unique bond between the rider and their horse. As with any activity, it is essential to have a good understanding of the equipment and terminologies used in horse riding.

In this article, we will explore different horse movement terminologies and tack terminologies.

Horse Movement Terminology

Horses have several different gaits that they can use when in motion. Each of these gaits has a different pace, stride length, and rhythm.

Let us examine each gait and how they differ from one another.


  • Jog

    A jog is a slow and steady trotting pace, characterized by a two-beat, lateral gait, in which the horse’s diagonal pairs of legs move together.

  • Walk

    The walk is a four-beat gait that is the slowest of the basic horse gaits. A walk should be level, rhythmic, and an active gait that is moderate in speed.

  • Trot

    The trot is a two-beat, diagonal gait that is faster than the jog. It is a rhythmic gait that is characterized by a moment of suspension as the horse momentarily lifts all four feet off the ground.

  • Canter/Lope

    The canter or lope is a three-beat, asymmetrical gait that is faster than the trot. It has a distinct three-beat rhythm with a moment of suspension between each stride.

  • Gallop

    The gallop is a four-beat, asymmetrical gait that is the fastest of all the horse gaits. It is a running gait that is characterized by a moment of suspension as all four legs are briefly off the ground.

Other Movement Terms

  • Jib

    A jib is a maneuver that a horse may perform to refuse a jump, where they come to a sudden stop and refuse to move forward.

  • Changing/Switching Leads

    Changing leads is an advanced maneuver where the horse switches from one lead (the footfall pattern used by the horse at the canter) to another in mid-stride, usually when turning or during a jump.

Horse Tack Terminology

The horse’s tack is critical equipment that a horse owner must have for safe riding and control of their horse. Let’s explore some of the essential horse tack terminologies.

Parts of the Saddle

  • Gullet

    The saddle gullet is the channel that runs down the center of the saddle, where the horse’s spine can pass without experiencing any pressure.

  • Cantle

    The cantle is the higher or rear part of the saddle’s seat.

Types of Bridles and Tack

  • Girth/Cinch

    A girth or cinch is a wide leather or fabric strap that is attached to the saddle and fastens under the horse’s belly. It helps secure the saddle in place.

  • Bridle

    A bridle is a piece of horse tack that allows the rider to control the horse through headgear. A bridle typically consists of a bit, reins, and a headstall.

  • Martingale/Tie-downs

    A martingale or tie-downs is used to control a horse’s head carriage by keeping the horse’s head in an upright position, preventing the horse from raising its head too high.

  • Bit

    The bit is a piece of metal that is placed in the horse’s mouth and controlled through the reins to give signals and control the horse.

  • Reins

    Reins are long leather straps that are attached to the horse’s bridle, and the rider uses them to communicate with the horse.

  • Noseband

    A noseband is a piece of tack that goes around a horse’s nose and is used to provide additional control.


Understanding horse movement terminologies and tack terminologies goes a long way in enabling every rider to create a bond with their horse. Familiarizing yourself with the equipment’s terminology allows you to communicate with other riders, professionals, and veterinarians about your horse’s needs and issues, improving your overall horsemanship experience.

Horses have been a part of human culture for centuries – from serving as transportation to playing significant roles in historical battles. Horses have also played a significant role in the development of sports such as horse racing, polo, and dressage.

In this article, we will explore a variety of miscellaneous horse terminologies.

Terminology Related to Horses

  • Equestrian

    Equestrian is a term that is used to describe horses and horse riding activities. It can also refer to a person who rides horses or is involved in the care of horses.

  • Equestrianism/Equestrianship/Equestrian Skills

    Equestrianism or equestrianship refers to the various skills and practices involved in horse riding, horse care, and horse showing. Equestrian skills encompass a wide range of activities such as jumping, riding dressage, horse racing, and driving carriages.

  • Bareback

    Bareback is a type of horse riding where the rider sits directly on the horse’s back without any saddle or other riding gear. It requires a lot of expertise and balance on the rider’s part, and it is often used in horse training and horse shows.

  • Break In

    Break In or breaking a horse refers to the initial training phase of a horse – a time when the horse is trained to accept the rider, accept a bridle, obey basic commands, and accept a rider’s weight and control.

  • Groom

    A groom is someone who takes care of a horse and ensures that the horse’s physical and emotional needs are met. Grooming includes tasks such as feeding, brushing, cleaning, and exercising the horse.

  • Hand High

    A hand high is a term used to describe a horse that stands taller than the average horse height. It is usually measured from the ground to the highest point of the horse’s withers.

  • Hack

    The term Hack refers to a horseback riding excursion, often for social or recreational purposes. Hacks are also known as trail rides.

  • Horsemanship

    Horsemanship is the practice of riding horses and taking care of them correctly. It includes learning to ride a horse correctly and safely, as well as skills such as horse health maintenance, grooming, and managing horses’ behavior.

  • Sidesaddle

    A sidesaddle is a type of saddle designed primarily for women to ride horses. It allows the rider to sit sideways, with both legs on one side of the horse and choose between several posture options, depending on what’s appropriate for the situation.

  • Green Horse/ Green Broke

    Green horses or green broke horses are horses that are in the early stages of training. These horses are not yet fully trained, so they are called green as they are not completely developed.

Terminology Related to Cowboys and Horses

  • Hippophile

    A Hippophile is a lover or enthusiast of horses, while cowboys are traditionally associated with horse riding and cowboy culture.

  • Cow Ponies

    Cow ponies are horses used for riding and driving cattle. They are well-trained working horses that cowboys used on the ranch.

  • Critters

    Critters is a term that cowboys use to refer to any animal they work with on the ranch. This term can include horses, cattle, sheep, and other livestock animals.

  • Mustangs

    Mustangs are wild horses that are native to North America. They are known for their hardy nature, strength, and physical endurance, making them ideal for ranching and rodeo activities.

  • Broncs/Broncos

    Broncs or broncos refer to horses that are difficult to ride. They are often used in rodeo events such as bronco riding.

  • Cowgirls

    Cowgirls are female riders who work primarily with cattle, particularly on a ranch.


Horses are more than just animals to be ridden – they are a way of life. Learning and understanding the various terminologies associated with horses, horsemanship, and cowboy culture, helps us communicate and connect with fellow equestrians more effectively.

Horses are an integral part of our world, and knowing their terminologies can open up new opportunities within the equine industry, from horseback riding to veterinary services. In conclusion, a good understanding of horse riding terminology, anatomy, tack, and movement can go a long way in improving horsemanship technique, communication with other equestrians, caring for horses, and creating a bond between the rider and their horse.

Knowledge of horse terminologies creates an enriched experience when riding horses, competing, or discussing equine-related matters. Learning and practicing these terminologies takes time and effort but is rewarding in the long run.

Always strive to continue learning and growing as an equestrian to have a more rewarding experience and create a strong relationship with your horse.


  • Why is it important to know horse terminologies?

    Knowing horse terminologies is essential for a better understanding of horse riding, care, and communication.

  • What are some of the essential horse gaits?

    Some essential horse gaits include the walk, trot, canter/lope, jog, and gallop.

  • What is meant by green horse or green broke?

    Green horses or green broke horses are horses that are in the early stages of training and not fully developed.

  • What is the role of a groom in horse care?

    A groom is responsible for taking care of a horse’s physical and emotional needs, including feeding, brushing, cleaning and exercising the horse.

  • What is a sidesaddle?

    A sidesaddle is a type of saddle designed primarily for women to ride horses, allowing them to sit sideways with both legs on one side of the horse.

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