Wondrous Words Wednesday: horseriding

Again, I have not been reading in English this week. But I have been horseriding, so I thought I would list here some words I kind of know about horseriding and check their definitions, as well as some words I did not know. Also, check this very interesting article about idioms related to horses that I found while looking up my horseriding words. (See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog!)


Tack: n. equipment used in horse riding, including the saddle and bridle.

According to Wikipedia, tack includes “saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, harnesses, martingales, and breastplates”.


Girth: n. a band attached to a saddle and fastened around a horse’s belly.

According to Wikipedia, this is called a cinch in the Western US.


Bridle: n. the headgear used to control a horse, consisting of buckled straps to which a bit and reins are attached.

Rein: n. a long, narrow strap attached at one end to a horse’s bit, typically used in pairs to guide or check a horse in riding or driving.

I tend to get these two confused, both in English and in other languages.As far as I can understand, the reins are the straps alone, those that the rider holds, while the bridle is the whole thing placed on a horse’s head. Of course, there is also this:

Bit: n. a metal mouthpiece attached to a bridle, used to control a horse.


Martingale: n. a strap or set of straps running from the noseband or reins to the girth of a horse, used to prevent the horse from raising its head too high.

I wouldn’t know about this if I had not seen it on the horse I was riding!


Canter: n. a pace of a horse between a trot and a gallop, with not less than one foot on the ground at any time.

Gallop: n. the fastest pace of a horse or other quadruped, with all the feet off the ground together in each stride.

This is a difference that is not commonly known in Italian, mostly the same word is used, and even in technical contexts a canter is known as a “small gallop”.


(All definitions are taken from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 via WordReference.com)


9 comments on “Wondrous Words Wednesday: horseriding

  1. Hi!
    Great words and definitions. I knew the words but now I know the correct definitions for them. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  2. I never horseride (?) and most of these words are new for me !
    Two words are the same in French
    Gallop = galop (same meaning)
    Martingale = same meaning too +with the meaning of half-belt.

  3. I knew all your words but one. I read a lot of American westerns and pioneer stories so they are familiar. But Martingale was a new term. I liked this round-up (good pun) of horse riding terms.

  4. It looks like martingale was the least known one! No wonder, I didn’t even know such a thing existed before seeing it on the horse I was riding.
    Thank you all for your comments!

  5. I went through the rather stereotypic adolescent girl horsey phase as a youngster, and so I knew all of these words, but haven’t thought about some of them in a good while- thanks for the memory jog.

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