Pony A – Z

Think you’re a total horsey girl? Check out our glossary of all those tricky horsey words and see how many you already know!


Aids – The aids are the signals that the rider uses to let the horse know what he wants him to do. There are two kinds of aids – natural aids and artificial aids. Natural aids include the seat, legs and hands. Artifical aids include whips, spurs, martingales and nosebands

Arena – also known as a a school or manege, the arena is a purpose-built area, usually made from sawdust or sand, where you can ride and train your horse.


Bay – A reddish-brown coloured horse with black points and black mane and tail.

Bit – Made of metal with rings on either side to connect it to the bridle, the bit goes into the horse’s mouth so that the rideer can guide and control their horse. There are lots of different kinds of bits. One of the most common bits is a snaffle.

Bridle – This fits on the horse’s head and the rider holds the reins to guide and control the horse.


Canter – faster than a walk or a trot, the canter is a three-beat pace.

Cavesson – A type of noseband worn on the horse’s bridle

Cavalleti – these are low jumps constructed from a single bar that is nailed to two crossed poles at each corner. Cavalletti are only little jumps but they can be stacked up to make bigger fences or used for ‘gridwork’

Chestnut – A chestnut horse is ginger or reddish in colour with a matching mane and tail.

Clip – in winter horses grow thick coats and these can be clipped for the comfort of the horse to prevent them getting wet and cold after long, sweaty rides.

Colt – a young boy horse


Dun – Dun coloured horses vary from mouse to golden, and generally have black points and a black mane and tail.

Dung – horse poo!


Eliminated – if a rider has three refusals on a showjumping or cross country course they will be eliminated or disqualified


Farrier – Once known as the ‘blacksmith’ the farrier is the person who puts metal shoes on your horse. Horses need to be shod at least every six weeks

Filly – a young girl horse

Flank – A very sensitive area of the horse located on their side just in front of the hind leg

Flaxen – Some chesnut horses have a flaxen mane and tail, meaning the tail and mane are pale blonde in colour.


Gallop – the fastest of the horse’s four paces. When a horse gallops it lifts all four feet off the ground at once.

Gelding – a boy horse that has been gelded is a bit like a cat that has been neutered.

Girth – the thick piece of leather that goes around the horse’s belly to hold the saddle in place

Grey – A grey horse is one in which both white and black hairs occur throughout the coat. There are different kinds of grey – a dapple grey has circular ‘blooms’ of grey especially on the rump. A fleabitten grey has tufts of dark hair, a bit like like freckles.

Grooming – brushing and cleaning your horse in preparation for riding


Halter – The halter is worn on the horse’s head and lets the rider control the horse while theey are on the ground so they can tie up the horse for grooming, feeding etc.

Hands High – the height of a horse or pony is measured in hands. Measurement is made from the ground next to the hoof up to the wither. A pony is any animal that measures up to 14.2 hands high. A horse is any animal larger than 14.2

Hock – the area about halfway up the horse’s hind leg – the point of the hock sticks out at the back of the hind leg


In foal – when a mare is ‘in foal’ it means she is pregnant and is going to have a baby


Jumping – horses love to jump! However there are some reasons why they might stop jumping or refuse. These include being ‘overfaced’ with fences that are too big and loss of nerve on the part of the rider.


Kit – Your grooming kit should include: a dandy brush, a body brush, a hoof pick, a curry comb, a sweat scraper, a mane comb and a sponge


Lame – Lameness means that a horse is sore in one or more of its legs. Some causes of lameness are stone bruises, a pricked foot from a misplaced nail during shoeing, and laminitis – or fever in the feet

Leadrope – this attaches to the halter and is used to lead and tie up the horse or pony.

Liver Chestnut – a liver chestnut describes a particular colour of chesnut horse that is darker and more chocolate-toned than a regular chestnut horse or pony

Loose box – a large indoor space big enough for a pony or horse to move around and lie down, with a floor lined with straw, shavings, sawdust or some other non-edible and comfortable beedding material


Mane – The long hair that runs along a horse’s neck. The mane needs to be brushed and combed regularly and can be pulled or plaited

Mare – a female horse


Near – the left hand side of a horse

Noseband – there are different kinds of noseband including a cavesson and a flash. Nosebands attach to the bridle and are ‘artificial aids’ used to control the horse.

Numnah – a pad that is shaped like a saddle. The numnah is worn underneath the saddle to protect the horse’s back and to stop the saddle getting sweaty.


On the bit – A difficult term to describe and for more advanced riders. In essence, it means that the horse accepts contact between the rider’s hands and the bit through the reins, flexing at the poll and activating the hind legs


Paces – horses and ponies have four paces – walk, trot, canter and gallop.

Paddock – also known as a field, this is an outdoor space where the horse is free to roam and grazes on grass.

Piebald – A black and white coloured horse, showing large and irregular black and white patches, a bit like a magpie.

Poll – Right between the horse’s ears on the top of their head is the poll. This is a very sensitive area. More advanced riders will ask a horse to ‘flex at the poll’ meaning that they bend their head down, to go ‘on the bit’.

Plaits – when a horse or pony goes to a show or event they will often wear their manes and tails plaited.


Quarter Horse – The Quarter Horse is a special breed, often favoured by Western Riders for their cleverness and strength. Quarter Horses are often ‘cowboy colours’ such as Palomino, Dun, and black and white patches (known as Tobiano or Piebald)


Reins – these attach to the bit and are held in the rider’s hands to control the horse.

Refusal – when a horse stops and will not jump it is called a refusal.

Rug – Horses who live outside in paddocks or fields rather than being stabled all year-round will require a paddock rug to keep them warm and dry especially in winter.


Saddle – Usually made out of leather, the saddle fits onto the horse’s back and makes it more secure and comfortable for the rider. You can get different types of saddles to suit different activities like jumping, dressage and cross country

Skewbald – A coloured horse, with irregulare patches of white and any other colour except plain black.

Stable – An indoor space where horses and ponies are kept warm and dry. In New Zealand horses are seldom stabled and tend to live out at pasture – but stables are still used sometimes esepcially on very cold or wet nights to keep horses warm and dry

Stallion – a male horse that has not been gelded. Stallions are considered to be more difficult to manage than mares and geldings

Stirrup Iron – The stirrup, or stirrup iron, is attached to the saddle and is made of metal. It should be big enough for the rider to allow half an inch on each side of their foot


Tack – this is a horsey term for saddlery – all the bits and pieces you need to ride like bridles, saddles etc. When you get a horse ready to ride you are ‘tacking up’

Tobiano – Similar to piebald and skewbald, a term particularly used for American breeds such as the Quarter Horse.

Trot – There are two ways of riding the trot. You can do a ‘sitting’ trot where you stay in the saddle, or you can do a ‘rising’ trot where you allow the horse’s stride to lift you up and down out of the saddle (this is also known as posting)


Unfit – horses are just like people and need regular exercise and training so that they can compete at their best


Vet – the vet should be called in to treat a horse that is unwell or injured


Walk – the slowest of all the horse’s paces

Wither – this is the point of the horse’s body where their height is measured. The wither is at the base of the neck, where the saddle sits

White – there is actually no such thing as a ‘white’ horse – they are known as greys


eXercise – horses need to be exercised regularly with lots of trotting and canter work to get them fit if they are competing


Yearling – at birth a baby horse is called a foal. In the first year after that it is called a yearling and until the age of three it is called a colt (boy) or filly (girl)


Zebra – like horses, Zebras can walk, trot, canter and gallop – but they cannot be trained or ridden

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