Horse terms for the beginner horse enthusiast: Part 2

A continuation of terms to learn about horse terms for the non-horse person.

The terms in this article by Michigan State University Extension are ones an instructor may use when they are giving a lesson to someone. For example, they may ask for a specific gait such as a trot, jog or lope.  In addition they may ask for the rider do something specific while they are performing a gait such as “close your hand” or “don’t be heavy handed” when riding.  Below are a few of the commonly used terms.

Half halt – When driving aids and restraining aids are used together subtly as a signal to the horse to call its attention back to the rider. This tells the horse that it is about to be asked to do something such as perform a transition or take a jump.

Leg pressure- Consciously placing your leg on the horse and applying pressure so it will yield to the pressure driving them in a particular direction.  Leg pressure is used to send the horse forward, but is also used to collect and steer the horse. Leg pressure can even send the horse backwards with tension on the reins telling them to back.

Close your hand- The rein in your hand should be held firmly with bent fingers, but not tight.  The simple act of tightening your hand or closing your hand can be enough of a cue to signify a change of speed, a different head set or other actions.

Seat change/ use your seat- Being asked to use your seat is as simple as changing your seat pressure to one side or the other while your body stays straight and balanced in the saddle. You can also put your weight to the back or front to signify forward movement or stopping.

Cues/aids – Signals the rider gives the horse to tell it what they want them to do. Cues are given through the legs, hands or seat through touch, pressure or weight.  Cues may also be given through voice commands.  

Serpentine- A snake like pattern where the horse and rider come off of the rail and go back to the rail without the body of the horse turning. Instead the body remains facing in the original direction.

Half pass – When a horse moves forward and sideways at the same time.

Trot/ jog – A two beat gait where diagonal pair of legs move forward together with a period of suspension in between.

Extended/ collected trot – This is a trot, but the horse is extending its stride and covering more ground. A collected trot would be the opposite where the horse is collected up and covering minimal ground.

Posting (rising)/ sitting trot –When a rider rises and falls in the saddle with the movement of the horse at the trot. A sitting trot is when the rider stays solid in the saddle during the gait.

Diagonal- When a rider is posting the trot they will rise and then sit back in the saddle at the same time as the appropriate forefoot and the opposite hind foot touches the ground. For example, if riding a left diagonal, the rider sits back in the saddle as the left forefoot hits the ground and rise in the saddle when that leg is off the ground.

Canter/ lope –This is a three-beat gait of a horse in which one hind leg strides first (the leading leg), followed by the opposite diagonal pair and finally the opposite foreleg. 

Hand gallop- A more forward and expressive canter.

Transition- Used to describe a horse that is moving from one gait to another such as moving from the canter down to the trot or the walk to the trot.

Leads – At the canter a horse will lead with one leg over the other by extending that leg out further. When the right leg is leading it is called the right lead and when the left leg is leading it is called the left lead. 

Flying lead change- When a horse changes from one lead to the other without transitioning out of the canter.

Simple lead change- When a horse changes from one lead to the other by transitioning down to the jog or walk first for no more than three strides.

Cross firing- When a horse is cantering on one lead in the front and the other lead in the back.

Counter canter- a balanced lope (or canter) on one lead while the horse is traveling in a curve in the opposite direction. For example, the horse is cantering on the left lead, but circling to the right.

Heavy handed- A term used to describe a rider that is keeping a tight grip on the horse’s mouth through the reins.  Horses should be ridden using legs and seat and not by pulling on the horse’s mouth via the reins.

Horse terms for the beginner horse enthusiast: Part 1 discussed terms that explained types of horses, classes and forms of riding. The above terms could be used during a horseback riding lesson. A continued list of terms can be found in Horse terms for the beginner horse enthusiast: Part 3.  This section explains terms used to describe the behavior a horse is exhibiting or to explain how the horse looks or presents itself.

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