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Horsemen’s Terms

Coggins Test—
A blood test given to determine the presence of Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). Veterinarians draw a small blood sample and send it to a laboratory. In many states, a valid negative Coggins Test is required for entry into activities such as shows, trail rides, rodeos and other horse events.

Double-Rigged Saddle—A Western saddle with two cinches, one directly under the horn and a second behind the rider’s leg.

Equine Infectious Anemia—
An infectious viral disease characterized by a hemolytic anemia (whereby the red blood cells are destroyed), depression, intermittent fever and edema (abnormal collection of fluids in body tissues). It may be spread by biting insects, unsterile injection techniques or acquired from other horses.

Equine Encephalomyelitis (Sleeping Sickness)
An acute, infectious disease of horses and mules, which can be fatal. It affects the nervous system and is spread by mosquitoes, and, in some cases, ticks. Both the brain and spinal cord are affected. Horses should be annually inoculated to prevent infection.

Flight Response—
In the wild, a horse’s primary defense from predatory animals is to run away.
Domesticated horses have that same trait. When a horse feels threatened or in danger, he will try to escape by running away. This is called the flight response. It is up to a horseman to position himself so that he will not be injured if the horse does try to escape from an object that the horse feels threatening.

Front Billet—
Offside strap running down from the front rigging ring on the saddle, which the cinch is attached to.

A horse taking long leaps up a steep hill. This is dangerous because the animal could become unbalanced and fall over backwards.

a) Refers to a rider’s horse or “mount.”
b) To step into the left stirrup and swing into the saddle.

Near Side—
Refers to the left side of a horse. All saddling and bridling is done from the left side.

Off Side—Refers to the right side of the horse because the saddling and unsaddling is done from the other (left) side. It is sometimes referred to as the “Indian side,” because early Native Americans mounted and dismounted from that side.

Rigging Ring—
Metal rings attached to the saddle, which the cinches (girths) are tied to. A saddle will have two rings hung directly under the front (fork), and often a second set behind the rider’s legs.

Safety Release Snap—
A specially designed snap that can be quickly unfastened under pressure. Used on halter ropes and trailer tie ropes so a horse can be quickly released if necessary.

Set the Hair—
The technique of putting a saddle pad on the horse’s back slightly ahead of where it should fit and then sliding it back into position. This pushes the hair down and points it to the rear, helping to eliminate saddle sores.

Sull Up—
A term describing a horse that has gotten mad and refuses to move.


A strap on a bridle that is attached to the headstall and buckles around the

horse’s neck just behind the jaws. The purpose of this is to prevent the horse from rubbing or pulling the headstall off against fences, limbs or other protruding objects.

Tug Strap—
The short straps used to attach a breast collar to the rigging rings of a saddle.

The height at which a horse is tied (normally approximately 5 feet from the ground) and even with the animal’s withers. If the tie point is lower, the animal could pull back and “pull its head down,” injuring it for further use. Or, it could paw with a front foot and get the leg over the tie rope. A horse should always be tied “withers-high” for safety.

A hackamore is a type of bridle without a bit. It is designed to control the horse via pressure points on the nose and chin. There are three main types of hackamores, the mechanical hackamore, the side-pull, and the bosal.

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