When We Talk Horse

When We Talk Horse

reprinted from Farm and Fireside, 1923

Horsefolk have a vocabulary all their own. When we buy a horse it is worth while to know just what each term means. Here is a little dictionary of commonly used expressions that I have compiled.

1. General Expressions:

  • Chancy – a horse likely to be a good investment.
  • Little Green – does not work well in harness or under saddle.
  • Breedy – shows evidence of good breeding.
  • Tucked up gaunt, had a long sleep – the horse does not show a full well-rounded abdomen.
  • Just over his sickness – means he does not look bright and attractive.
  • Runs with a cold – a slight defect in breathing.
  • Bushing – getting a reduction in price due to misrepresentation in any way when purchased.
  • Sold at halter – sold as he stands.
  • Legs go – no recourse due to blemishes, defects, or unsoundness.
  • Work only – nothing else guaranteed.
  • Wind and work – means wind good and will work; nothing more guaranteed.
  • Hitch – nothing else but working in harness guaranteed.
  • Good age – from ten to fifteen years old.
  • Smooth mouth – may be above ten years old
  • Full mouth – six years of age.
  • Just a baby – either four or five years old.
  • Parrot mouth – upper teeth project on the lower.
  • Under shot – the opposite of parrot mouth.
  • A grade – not purebred.
  • Half-breed – one parent a purebred.
  • Cold-blooded – a harness horse with a strain of draft-horse blood.

2. Concerning Unsoundnesses and Blemishes:

  • Hair off the hoof – has a ringbone or side bone.
  • A little rough on the coronet – same as above
  • A little rough behind – the horse has a spavin.
  • A jack – same as next above
  • A roarer – badly off in the breathing.
  • Windy, wind-broken, whistler – horse not sound of wind or breathing.
  • A bull – a horse that makes a grunting sound when one makes a pass as if to strike it along the ribs over the lungs.
  • Feather in eye, blue eye, speck in eye, cloudy eye and smoky eye – all mean some unsoundness of the eye, partial or complete; purchaser should investigate.

3. Concerning Defects:

  • Tied in the knees, knock-kneed – front knees closer together than usual, also called bench-legged.
  • Over in the knees, a little careless in knees, buck-kneed – the knees are bent forward more than normal.
  • Calf-kneed – the opposite of over in the knees.
  • Toe-wide, spleg-footed, Charlie Chaplin or base narrow – stands with heels close together and toes pointing outward.
  • Hog-backed, roached back – the back makes an inward curve.
  • Sway-backed – low in the back.
  • Ewe-necked – low in front of withers.
  • Herring gutted, wasp-waisted, needs a corset – small around the body through the flanks.
  • Flat-ribbed, sunfish – thin of body and flat-sided, not well-rounded.

4. Stable Tricks and Vices:

  • Cribber, crib-biter, wind-sucker – takes hold of manger or other objects and pulls back making a short grunt.
  • Weaver – weaves from side to side of stall.
  • Bobby, a bobber – walks with a peculiar bobbing up and down.