Here are a few basic horse terms that every rider should know:
Apple: horse treat which can double as emergency rations for the rider. If you keep the apple, though, prepare yourself for looks of starving accusation from your horse.
Bridle: device designed to test the rider’s manual dexterity and problem-solving skills. You must be able to take it apart, clean it, and put it back together without any pieces left over.
Double bridle: ditto, except times two.
Chaps: a type of skin irritation resulting from riding without gloves in November, followed by cleaning your tack with cold water.
Club foot: the approximate size and shape of your foot after your horse accidentally stands on it and grinds it into the dirt for a while.
Cracked heels: a condition brought on by walking all day at the Royal Winter Fair in new cowboy boots.
Heaves: the technique a horse uses to get rid of his rider when he’s not in the mood to be ridden.
Horse: great black hole into which the horse owner’s money flows, never to be seen again.
Lop ears: what a rider feels like doing to her horse on the days when its only trained gait is the spook.
Nag: the job of a riding instructor. Students generally require several hundred repetitions of “Heels down” and “Toes in” before they learn to do these things on their own.
Pace: gait displayed by mare owners as foaling time approaches.
Riding crop: varies with the geographical location. In our area, hay is the crop we ride through most often.
Show Sheen: the fine layer of sweat that glazes a rider’s face as they leave the show ring; mostly seen during the summer months or after championship classes.
Sidesaddle: the condition of a saddle after the rider has attempted to mount without checking the tightness of the girth.
Splint: what the doctor puts on your arm or leg after your horse has had an episode of heaves. (See: “heaves”)
Swayback: the condition of your back after you’ve single-handedly unloaded a hundred bales of hay from the back of a truck and mucked out a dozen stalls.
Sweet feed: one of the major food groups in Canada’s Nutrition guide. Includes cookies, chocolate bars and Tim Horton donuts. Used to keep up a rider’s strength on horse show days.
Trailer: type of horse used for trail riding. Characterized by nerves of steel when rabbits pop out underfoot; the directional sense of a homing pigeon; and a burst of speed when the barn comes into sight.
Wall eye: when riding on the left rein in an arena, the horse’s right eye is the wall eye; on the right rein, it’s the left eye. The wall eye is the one that spots arena hazards such as goblins lurking in the corner.
Wood Shavings: the marks left on your new leather boots after your horse has scraped your leg along the kick board in the arena.
And of course, the last of the horse terms:
Finish line: you’re reading it.