This glossary was developed when writing the Brumbies series to aid readers with terms they might not have read before. It is not meant to be a full list of all horsey terms, but I hope you find it useful.
Aid: A signal used by a rider to convey instructions to their horse, for example by using their body, hands, legs or voice.
Akubra: A brand of Australian felt hat favoured by stockmen.
Appaloosa: A breed of horse, also a colour, where the loins and hips are white with dark round or oval spots. Sometimes spotting occurs all over the body.
Arabian: A hot-blooded breed of horse with a distinctive high head and tail carriage and wedged-shape face with graceful paces.
Bachelor: A young male horse that does not have mares of his own.
Back a horse: To sit on the horse’s back for the first time, that is, to ride it. See also ‘Break in a horse’.
Bay: A dark-skinned horse with a reddish to dark brown coat with black mane and tail. The legs also usually have dark markings.
Billabong: A waterhole created when a river changes course or dries up and isolates a deep section of fresh water.
Billy: A metal container used to heat water over an open fire.
Black Sallee: A eucalypt tree commonly found adjacent to creeks and flats in mountainous, tableland country.
Blowing: When a horse breathes heavily from exertion or stress, usually with head lowered and nostrils flared.
Blue Heeler: A breed of Australian cattle dog.
Brahman: An Asian breed of beef cattle with a large hump on the wither.
Brand: An identifying mark burnt into an animal’s skin by either a hot iron or dry-ice.
Break in a horse: To teach the horse to walk, trot, canter, halt and change directions either under saddle (ridden) or in harness (driven).
Brekky: Australian slang for breakfast.
Bronco rail: A short fence where calves are held by ropes, usually from horseback, to be branded.
Brumby: The wild horse of Australia, descended from released or escaped domesticated horses.
Buck: When a horse leaps in the air with back arched, coming down with stiff forelegs and head low.
Buckskin: Also known as dun, a horse colour with black skin and yellow pigment in the hair, with a black mane and tail.
Bullock: A young bull that has not been desexed.
Campdraft: An Australian competition where riders cut out a steer or heifer from a mob, hold it in position, and then drive it in a figure of eight around two posts before ending between two narrow gate posts.
Cantle: The upward curving hind part of a saddle.
Cattle pad: A path made by the constant tread of animals’ hooves along the same way.
Cavaletti: A series of small wooden jumps used in the basic training of any type of riding horse in order to encourage the horse to lengthen its stride, to help improve its balance and to loosen up and strengthen its muscles. Each cavalletto consists of a pole two and a half to three metres long resting on X-shaped crosspieces at each end. By turning the crosspieces, the height of the pole can be raised or lowered.
Cavesson: A well-padded headcollar where the noseband is made of metal or other stiff material, used on horses during breeding or training. The nosepiece has three metal rings for attaching a lunge or lead rein on either side or on the nose.
Chestnut: A horse colouring with a gold to dark reddish brown coat and a matching or slightly darker mane and tail.
Cleanskin: An animal that is unmarked by brand, ear tag or other identification.
Cold blood: A heavy horse, or draught horse, such as a Clydesdale or Percheron.
Colt: A young male horse.
Corella: A small white parrot often seen in very large flocks.
Crest: The ridge along the back of the horse’s neck from which the mane grows.
Crupper: A leather strap looped under a horse’s tail and attached to a harness or saddle to keep it from slipping forward.
Curry comb: A rubber or metal scraper for cleaning horse brushes or for removing mud and hair from a horse.
Dam: a) A body of water formed by building a wall, usually in a gully or depression in the ground.
Dam: b) The female parent of a horse.
Damper: A type of bread made without yeast on an open fire.
Doggers: Slang term for a slaughterhouse that uses meat for pet food.
Draft: To selectively separate out one or more animals.
Drafting gate: A gate that swings to open into one of several exit points while blocking off the other outlets.
Drench: To pour a chemical on (or in) a beast against pests such as worms and ticks.
Feral: A wild animal that is not native to the environment; an introduced species.
Fetlock: The joint between the knee (or hock) and the hoof.
Filly: A young female horse.
Fire trail: A track made specifically to provide access for fire-fighting.
Flaxen: A pale gold or cream colour, such as the mane and tail of palominos or pale chestnuts.
Float: A trailer for transporting horses.
Forehand: The front legs and shoulders of the horse.
Frog: The soft triangle in the sole of the horse’s hoof.
Gag: A metal device with ratchets used by veterinarians or horse dentists to keep the horse’s mouth open.
Gelding: A de-sexed male horse.
Goose-neck: A style of horse float (also called a horse trailer or horse box) that has living quarters in the front for people to use. It is attached to the tray of a ute (pickup truck) with a trailer ball coupling.
Green: A horse that has been broken-in but is still inexperienced.
Greenies: A slang term for people with a passion for the environment.
Grey: A dark-skinned horse with black and white hairs in its coat and mane and tail. With each successive change of coat the proportion of white hairs increases so that as the horse gets older its coat lightens until it is completely white.
Ground-tied: Where the reins touch the ground, instructing the horse to stand still.
Half-pass: A dressage movement where the horse’s body remains parallel to the side of the arena while moving away from it at an angle of 50 degrees.
Hanoverian: A Warmblood of German origins that has been bred for strength so the horse can be used for agricultural work as well as driving and riding.
Headcollar: A bitless headpiece for leading or tying up a horse. Also known as a halter (though different countries can attribute varying meanings to these two terms).
Heifer: A female cow that has not had a calf.
Hereford: An English breed of beef cattle with white faces and red and white bodies.
Herd: A group of horses that has a definite social structure with a hierarchy.
Hindquarters: The rear end of the horse above the hind legs.
Hobbles: Leather straps that join a horse’s forelegs together to restrict movement.
Hog: To cut off the mane close to the neck, usually done with electric clippers.
Hot blood: A fast, light horse, such as a Thoroughbred or an Arabian.
Horse challenge: A competition where riders demonstrate their horsemanship, including barrel-racing, whip-cracking on horseback, and bush races.
Hydro scheme: A large complex of artificial lakes created to power hydroelectric turbines to generate electricity.
Jag: To tug in a sudden and uneven movement.
Jackaroo: A young man (feminine equivalent, jillaroo) working on a sheep or cattle station, to gain practical experience in the skills needed to become a head stockman, overseer, or manager.
Jig-jog: To trot very slowly, either on the spot or sideways, contrary to what the rider is asking.
K: Australian abbreviation for a kilometre.
Kelpie: A breed of Australian sheep dog.
Leathers: Leather straps that attach the stirrup irons to the saddle.
Leg aids: Instructions to the horse conveyed by pressure or position of the rider’s legs.
Lowing: The sound made by cattle, a moo.
Lucerne: Another name for alfalfa, a sweet hay.
Mare: A female horse of breeding age.
Meadow hay: Dried herbage from natural pasture that includes a range of grasses and broad-leafed plants.
Messmate: An Australian tree.
Mickies/Micky Bull: A slang term for feral bulls that are ‘cleanskins’, that is, have not been branded or earmarked.
Midges: Tiny insects that swarm and cause irritation to humans by biting or flying into eyes, ears and mouth.
Mob: Any collection of horses that have come close together, e.g. when mustered or to run from a fire. It can also refer to a group of other animals, such as sheep or kangaroos.
Muster: To bring together a number of animals into a confined space.
Nap: When a horse is misbehaving, such as constantly shying, propping, jumping or halting.
Nibblies: An Australian slang term for snacks.
Numnah: A pad (typically sheepskin) that goes between the saddle and the horse’s back to reduce pressure, cut into the shape of the saddle.
Pad: A smooth track created by animals walking the same path.
Palomino: A breed and colour of horse with a golden coat and a flaxen mane and tail.
Pastern: The part of a horse’s limb between the fetlock and the hoof.
Pigroot: When a horse lunges forward with a low head, as if to buck, then kicks up its hind legs.
Poddy: A young animal, such as a calf or lamb, that has been hand-raised, usually due to being orphaned.
Poll: The top of a horse’s head between the ears.
Pommel: The bump at the front top of the saddle, in front of the rider.
(to) Pony: to lead an unmounted horse when riding another.
Prop: To stop suddenly with stiff front legs.
Prop plane: An aeroplane with propeller engines rather than jets.
Quarters: The hind end of the horse behind the flank including the rump and buttocks.
Queensland gate: A gate made from the same materials as the fence, usually barbed wire and star pickets. The gate does not swing, and is usually fastened by a lever to tension the wires.
Race: (also called a run or alley) A narrow pair of fences with a space between them just wide enough for one animal to pass through without being able to turn around, thus forming the animals into a line that only allows them to go forward.
Ranger: A person engaged to work in a park to look after the environment including the plants and animals within it.
Road train: A truck with three trailers, up to a total of 53 metres in length. Road trains used for transporting cattle have two decks, each deck having four or five pens.
Round yard: A circular fenced area for training horses, with a standard diameter of sixteen metres.
RSPCA: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Serve: To mate a stallion with a mare.
Shoulder-in: A dressage movement where the horse is required to bend inwards in an even curve from head to dock, while moving sideways and at the same time forwards.
Sire: The male parent of a horse.
Skewbald: A horse whose coat consists of large irregular and clearly defined patches of white and any other colour except black.
Skip out: To remove horse droppings from a stable without lifting or changing the bedding.
Smoko: Australian slang for a coffee break.
Snip: A white marking between or close to a horse’s nostrils.
Snowmobile: A mechanical vehicle, similar to a motorbike, that travels on skis rather than wheels.
Soften: When a horse relaxes its body, particularly its head and neck, when being ridden; to become responsive to the slightest aid.
Southern Cross: A constellation (group of stars) that is depicted on the Australian flag.
Spinifex: A prickly grass that grows across arid Australia.
Stallion: A male horse (not desexed) of breeding age.
Stare: (related to the coat of a horse) To stand on end, to bristle, thereby looking dull. Can be a sign of ill-health.
Steer: A desexed male bullock.
Stifle: The patella (knee)—a joint of the hind leg of a horse above the hock and below the point of hip.
Stockhorse: An Australian breed of horse for working cattle and sheep.
Store cattle: Young cattle that are to be fattened for beef.
Strapper: A person who cares for horses, for example cleaning out stables and yards, feeding, grooming, rugging, and saddling.
Surcingle: A strap that prevents the cantle of the saddle from lifting up from the horse’s body. It is fastened looser than a girth.
Swag: A bedroll with a waterproof canvas covering used for sleeping outdoors.
Tedder: A machine that spreads newly-mown hay for drying.
Thoroughbred: A breed of racehorse.
Travois: A primitive sledge consisting of a platform or netting supported by two long trailing poles, the forward ends of which are fastened to a dog or horse.
Turn on the forehand: This is a movement where the horse’s hindquarters move in a circle while the forehand remains in the same place. One hind leg crosses in front of the other. A clear walk rhythm and sequence is maintained throughout. During the turn, the horse’s forehand does not move forwards, sideways or backwards.
Turn on the hindquarters: This is a movement where the horse’s forehand moves in a circle while the hindquarters remain in the same place. One front leg crosses in front of the other. A clear walk rhythm and sequence is maintained throughout. During the turn, the horse’s hindquarters do not move forwards, sideways or backwards.
Twizzled: To twist a wire, or wires, to secure a fence. Also refers to anything caught up between two wires that have been twisted together.
Uni: An abbreviation for university.
Ute: An Australian utility (pick-up) truck with an open tray above the rear axle.
Walk up (to ask a horse to): To ask the horse to quicken and/or lengthen its stride by engaging the hind quarters to provide more impulsion.
Warmblood: A type of horse resulting from crossing a hot blood with a cold blood.
Weaners: Calves that are old enough to be separated from their mothers.
Wether: A de-sexed male sheep grown for meat.
Whicker: A soft horse call.
Whinny: A loud, shrill horse call.
White rainbow: A rainbow made from ice crystals rather than raindrops which is totally white.
Windrow: A line of material such as hay, grain or logs, pushed together to dry.
Wither: The highest part of a horse’s back at the base of the neck and between the shoulder blades.
Willy-willy: A small whirlwind that picks up dust and leaves and cuts a path across open spaces.
Wrangler: A person employed to handle animals professionally, especially horses.
Yakka: Australian slang for work.