Horse Terminology: A horse is not just a horse, of course!
Mind blown. Technically, a “horse” is a male who is 5+ years old. And, any male less than 5 years old is called a colt. If you want to sound SMART at the races, check out these terms.
We have names for horses of different ages:
- Foal: A newborn, up to 6 months old
- Weanling: A horse in its first year of life, who’s no longer reliant on its mother (aww)
- Yearling: A horse in its second year of life, following it’s first birthday
- Juvenile: A two-year-old horse
- Sophomore: A three-year-old horse
- Colt: A male horse under 5 years old
- Filly: A female horse under 5 years old
- Mare: A female horse 5+ years old
- Gelding: A castrated male horse
- tallion: An uncastrated male horse 5+ years old
There are important terms related to breeding:
- Broodmare: A female horse used for breeding
- Broodmare Dam: The mother of a mare used for breeding
- Broodmare Sire: The father of a mare used for breeding, and related to Grandsire/Granddam
- Stud: A male horse used for breeding
- In Foal: A pregnant mare
- “By” ______: refers to the sire of that horse
- “Out of”___: refers to the dam of that horse
And, we have the entire family tree:
- Sire: The father
- Dam: The mother
- Granddam: The grandmother
- Grandsire: The grandfather on the paternal side
- Damsire: The grandfather on the maternal side
- Second Dam: The grandmother on the maternal side.
There are also classifications based on how a horse runs, which is called its gait. In harness racing, which you will primarily find at Century, there are Pacers and Trotters:
- Pacers: Harness racing Standardbreds with a specific gait. Pacers move their legs on the same side of their body together. That is to say – they move their legs in lateral pairs. Pacers are much more common than trotters but are also capable of trotting.
- Trotters: Harness racing Standardbreds who trot, moving their back left leg at the same time they move their right front leg. Their legs move in a diagonal pair. The opposite front and back legs always move in unison, at high speeds. Yeah, it’s harder than it sounds. Try rubbing your stomach and patting the top of your head at the same time.
While pacers can also trot, trotters cannot also pace. Tongue twister?! However, there are pacers that can trot quickly enough to compete in trotting races. Lucky fellas!
Then, there are racehorse specific terms:
- Maiden: A horse that has never won a race. Sad!
- Miler: A horse that prefers to race a mile in distance
- Router: A horse who performs well in distance races
- Shipper: A horse that travels from track to track, running races
- Closer: A horse who runs its best in the latter part of the race
And, some terms are funnier than others:
- Bad Actor: A temperamental horse (also known as Chevy Chase after trying to instigate a fistfight with the beloved Bill Murray)
- Bad Doer: A horse with a slow appetite
- Morning Glory: A horse who performs well in morning workouts but fails to do so in races. Understandable.
- Mudder: a horse who races well on muddy tracks
- Rogue: A horse with a bad attitude
- Red Mare: A female horse with a reddish colored coat, known for being all spicy, all the time. Think ‘Ginger Spice’ in horse form.
- Savage: A horse that bites people or other horses. Total savage.
- Stall Walker: A horse that paces and worries, as opposed to resting before a race. Who can relate?
- Washy or Washed Out: A nervous horse that breaks into a sweat before a race. Needs Xanax, STAT.
- Wind Sucker: Also called a Cribber; a horse who clings to objects with his teeth, sucking air into his stomach. What the??
Now, when you come to take in a race at Century Mile, which terms will you use first to impress your wind sucking friends?