PARTS OF THE HORSE - Glossary
Abdomen or Belly - the broad area underneath the horse between the brisket and the flank.
Back - the horse's back runs from the withers to the loin. This contains the spinal column and it is important that it isn't too long, or the muscles will not be able to support a rider.
Barrel - the large area below the back in the general vicinity of the rib cage. This is where the heart, lungs and stomach of the horse are housed. It is also where an unconditioned horse often shows its excess weight.
Brisket - an area directly behind the forelegs at the front of the abdomen.
Buttock - the area below the dock, at the very back of the broad muscled area above the hind legs.
Cannon - the long bone in the lower leg. A short cannon bone is stronger than a longer cannon bone and a flat cannon bone is stronger than a round one.
Cheek (jewels) - distinctive rounded bones on the sides of the horse's head.
HORSE NUTRITION - Horses' Digestive System
Horses are nonruminant herbivores. This means that they eat grass but, unlike cows, only have one stomach and do not chew partially digested food a second time. Their digestive sytem contains many similar organs to our own.
The partially digested food continues to the small intestine, which digests and absorbs most nutrients, like proteins, fats, and some carbohydrates. The small intestine can also digest many vitamins and minerals. Liquids often pass through the cecum, which detoxifies them.
The large intestine consists of the large colon, the small colon, and the rectum. The colon ferments fibre from foods like hay and helps the horse absorb water and electrolytes. The rectum is where waste leaves the body.
- It's almost impossible for horses to vomit.
- The colon takes up almost half of a horse's digestive system.
- It takes 45 to 72 hours for food to pass through a horse's digestive system (it takes 24 to 72 hours for humans).
HORSE COLOURS, PATTERNS, AND MARKINGS - Face Markings
Bald Face - a very broad blaze.
Snip - a white marking between the nostrils.
Star - a white marking on the forehead. This marking can be various shapes, such as round or irregular.
Stripe - a narrow white line down the horse's face.
Appaloosa - The Appaloosa is descended from the Spanish horses bred by the Nez Perce Indians and is quickly recognized by its unique spotted colour pattern. Also unique to the Appaloosa is the white sclera of the eye, the mottled skin and the striping on the hooves.
Arabian - Bred by the Arabs to carry them swiftly over long distances with a minimum of food and water, the Arabian horse has an unsurpassed reputation for soundness and stamina. The Arabian is very attractive, with its distinctive dished face and proud carriage. Arabian horses are usually solid bay, chestnut, black or grey in colour.
Belgians - Belgians range in height from 16 to 18 hands and weigh between 2000 and 2600 pounds. In North America they are predominantly sorrel or blonde in colour with flaxen to white mane and tail. Roan is the other common colour. Originally developed in Belgium to meet agricultural draft needs, the massive and powerful Belgians are known for their patience and docility.
Buckskin - Body colour is yellowish or gold. Mane and tail are black or mixed. Often has a dorsal stripe, zebra stripes on legs and a transverse stripe over the withers and black ear tips.
Clydesdale - The lightest of the draft horse breeds is the Clydesdale. It has been bred for style, power and action. The breed originated in Scotland and averages 17 to 19 hands and 1800 to 2200 pounds. The Clydesale is usually bay or brown in colour with white markings on the legs, face and body. The breed is recognized by the long, silky hair, or feathering, that covers its lower legs and hooves.
GROOMING A HORSE
Check out our video about how to groom a horse!
SAFETY AROUND HORSES - Safety When Horseback Riding
Until you are more experienced or know a horse well, you should stick to an arena or other enclosed area. When riding outside, only go quickly if you know the terrain. The horse should always walk on tough or slippery ground and steep hills.
Before riding, check a horse for soreness, illness, or injury. Don't ride double (2 people on one horse) since that's hard on the horse's back and kidneys. There's also the risk that one of the riders will fall.
Keep your feet in the stirrups at all times when you're in the saddle, and stay calm, focused, and alert. Watch out for signs like ears that are pinned back or swivelling rapidly or a rapidly swishing tail, as well as things that could spook the horse - like a plastic bag - or distract it - like a green field.
It's safest to ride with someone else so one of you can go fetch help if necessary. At least one of you should have a working cell phone - on your body so that you won't lose it if you get separated from your horse. However, keep the phone turned off since you want to be paying attention to the horse and don't want the ring to startle it.
If you're riding a horse at night, only walk, and stick to familiar paths. If you're on a road, wear light-coloured clothing and carry a flashlight and reflectors.
BONDING WITH A HORSE - Hanging Out with a Horse
If you wanted to get to know a person, you'd spend some time just relaxing with them, wouldn't you? When it comes to horses, it's easy to spend all your time together on training and work, especially if you haven't got much time available. However, if the only thing that you do with a horse is ask it to work, it will likely become tired and cranky.
Why not try spending a few minutes in the horse's company without an agenda or task that you're trying to accomplish? Choose somewhere where the horse is comfortable, such as its paddock, and simply watch it graze. If you like, wander around the space - the horse may come follow you.
You can also try talking to the horse. This allows it to become familiar with the sound of your voice. Although it will have no idea what the words mean, it will recognize your tone.
- Have it interact with toys or other objects
- Work with obstacles, such as poles or barrels
- Let it roll in sand or woodchips
- Mimic its movements - walking when it walks, crouching when it rolls, etc.
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