stabeltalk

Friday, 26 August 2011 10:18

STABLE TALK

Written by  Bruce A. Roy
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Horsemen have their own vernacular which is spoken in equine circles. However, members of the public often employ the words veteran horsemen use to communicate in error.

A Single is a harnessed horse driven alone. Cart horses are Singles. Two horses, driven beside each other form a Team. A Team can be called a Pair. Other configurations, where two or more horses are hooked with each other, is known as a Hitch. Members of the public often refer to a Hitch as a Team. This is wrong. Yet, newspaper reporters, authors, actors and show announcers make this mistake, as do many horsemen, who are new to the industry.

A Four-Horse Hitch can be called a Four-in-Hand, which is terminology commonly used in coaching circles. Paired mules, driven together, form a Span. Speaking of paired mules as a Team will be questioned in
some circles!

Two horses, where one is hooked behind the other, is a Single Tandem Hitch. Three horses or more, one hooked behind the other, is a Random Hitch. Single Tandem Hitches can be seen in a show ring; overseas loaded carts are often drawn by a
Random Hitch.

When a team has a single horse hooked in front, the configuration formed is a Unicorn Hitch. A Unicorn Hitch is often known as a Spike Hitch. The terminology varies in different geographic regions.

A Six-Horse Hitch comes in several configurations. Six horses hooked abreast is one configuration. Three horses hooked abreast, hooked in tandem, behind three more horses hooked abreast, is another configuration. These two configurations differ from the Six-Horse Hitch seen in a show ring. Here the Lead Team, Swing Team and Wheel Team are hooked in tandem. A Wheel Team is often called the Pole Team. Again, the vernacular will differ with horsemen in different geographic regions. Some teamsters use both terms while in conversation.

Harnessed horses are held in hand with a set of Lines; horses under saddle have Reins in their rider's hands. The hair on a professional teamster's head will curl, when the Lines he has in hand are referred to as Reins.However, in Australia a teamster's Lines are called Reins.

A young horse, nursing its mother, is known as a Foal. When veteran horsemen speak of a Colt, they are referring to a male horse, which is two-years-old or younger. A Colt can be a male Foal. Stallions and geldings are also called Colts when yearlings or two-year-olds. A Filly is a female Foal. A yearling or two-year-old female is also called a Filly.

Whatever their age, Stallions are entire males, while altered males, whatever their age, are Geldings. A female nursing a foal is a Broodmare; while a Yeld Mare is a barren female. This terminology can refer to females barren in a given year or to females barren throughout their reproductive lifetime. The distinctions, while subtle, are important. A veteran horseman will scowl when newspaper reporters, authors, actors, announcers, etc., call a Foal, whatever its sex, a Colt!

The Nigh Side of a horse is its left side; the right side of a horse is its Off Side. Horses are haltered, led, harnessed, saddled and mounted from their Nigh Side.

The knowledgeable horseman's vernacular is colourful and more extensive than the few examples discussed. Like a national language, their language is alive. It changes with time and place. However, how a horseman uses the vernacular in equine circles will be a measure his expertise. At least this is how I see it!

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