age

All Thoroughbreds celebrate their birthday on Jan. 1.

agent

A person empowered to transact business for a stable owner or jockey, or empowered to sell or buy horses for an owner or breeder.

barren

Used to describe a filly or mare that was bred and did not conceive during the last breeding season.

bay

A horse color that varies from a yellow-tan to a bright auburn. The mane, tail and lower portion of the legs are always black, except where white markings are present.

Big Red

Refers to either of two famous chestnut-colored horses: Man o’ War or Secretariat.

black

A horse color which is black, including the muzzle, flanks, mane, tail and legs unless white markings are present.

blaze

A generic term describing a large, white vertical marking on a horse’s face. The Jockey Club doesn’t use blaze, preferring more descriptive words. See snip; star; stripe.

book

1) The group of mares being bred to a stallion in a given year. If a stallion attracts the maximum number of mares allowed by the farm manager, he has a full book. 2) A term used to describe a jockey’s riding commitments with his agent: An agent handles a jockey’s book.

bred

1) A horse is considered to have been bred in the state or country of its birth: Secretariat was a Virginia-bred. 2) The past tense of “breed.”

breeder

Owner of the dam at time of foaling unless the dam was under a lease or foal-sharing arrangement at the time of foaling. In that case, the person(s) specified by the terms of the agreement is (are) the breeder(s) of the foal.

breeding fund

A state fund set up to provide bonuses for state-breds.

broodmare

A filly or mare that has been bred and is used to produce foals.

buy-back

A horse put through a public auction that did not reach a minimum (reserve) price set by the consignor and so was retained. The consignor must pay a fee to the auction company based on a percentage of the reserve, to cover the auction company’s marketing, advertising and other costs.

chestnut

A horse color which may vary from a red-yellow to golden-yellow. The mane, tail and legs are usually variations of coat color, except where white markings are present.

colt

An ungelded (entire) male horse four-years-old or younger.

congenital

Present at birth.

cover

A single breeding of a stallion to a mare For example, “He covered 70 mares.”

crop

1) The number of foals by a sire in a given year. 2) A group of horses born in the same year. For example, “An excellent crop of three-year-olds.”

dam

The mother of a horse.

dam’s sire (broodmare sire)

The sire of a broodmare. Used in reference to the maternal grandsire of a foal.

dark bay or brown

A horse color that ranges from brown with areas of tan on the shoulders, head and flanks, to a dark brown, with tan areas seen only in the flanks and/or muzzle. The mane, tail and lower portions of the legs are always black unless white markings are present.

distaff

A female horse.

filly

Breeding: Female horse four-years-old or younger.
Harness racing: A female horse 3 years of age or younger.

foal(ed)

1) A horse of either sex in its first year of life. 2) As a verb, to give birth. Also known as “dropped.” 3) Can also denote the offspring of either a male or female parent.

founding sires

The Darley Arabian, Byerly Turk and Godolphin Barb. Every Thoroughbred must be able to trace its parentage to one of the three founding sires.

full-brother, full-sister

Horses that share the same sire and dam.

gelding

A neutered (castrated) male horse of any age.

get

Progeny of sire.

granddam

See second dam.

grandsire

The grandfather of a horse; father (“sire”) of the horse’s dam or sire.

gray

A horse color where the majority of the coat is a mixture of black and white hairs. The mane, tail and legs may be either black or gray unless white markings are present. Starting with foals of 1993, the color classifications gray and roan were combined as “roan or gray.”

half-brother, half-sister

Horses out of the same dam but by different sires. Horses with the same sire and different dams are not considered half-siblings in Thoroughbred racing.

hand

Four inches. A horse’s height is measured in hands and inches from the top of the shoulder (withers) to the ground, e.g., 15.2 hands is 15 hands, 2 inches. Thoroughbreds typically range from 15 to 17 hands.

hard boot

Denotes a well-traveled breeder whose boots are caked with mud and therefore hard. By extension, a breeder or trainer whose methods are characterized as old-fashioned. Generally used in the phrase, “Kentucky hard-boot.”

homebred

A horse bred by its owner.

in foal

Pregnant mare.

juvenile

Two-year-old horse.

maiden

Breeding: A female that has never been bred.
Harness racing: A stallion, mare or gelding that has never won a heat or race at the gait at which it is entered to start and for which a purse is offered.
Thoroughbred racing: A horse or rider that has not won a race.

mane

Long hairs growing on the crest of the horse’s neck, which are usually kept clipped to about six inches in length for neatness, or decoratively braided.

mare

Female horse five-years-old or older.

mare’s month

September. In theory, because mares that have not run well during the summer often “wake up” in September.

name (of a Thoroughbred)

Names of North American Thoroughbreds are registered by The Jockey Club. They can be no longer than 18 characters, including punctuation and spaces. The words “the,” “and,” “by,” “for,” “in” and “a” are almost always lower case unless they are the first word in the name. Examples “Love You by Heart,” “Go for Wand” and “Strike the Gold.”

reserve

A minimum price, set by the consignor, for a horse in a public auction. For example, “The horse did not reach its reserve.”

roan

A horse color where the majority of the coat of the horse is a mixture of red and white hairs or brown and white hairs. The mane, tail and legs may be black, chestnut or roan unless white markings are present. Starting with foals of 1993, the color classifications gray and roan were combined as “roan or gray.”

rogue

Ill-tempered horse.

savage

When a horse bites another horse or a person.

second dam

Grandmother of a horse. Also known as a “granddam.”

socks

Solid white markings extending from the top of the hoof to the ankles.

sophomores

Three-year-old horses. Called sophomores because age three is the second year of racing eligibility.

stall walker

Horse that moves about its stall constantly and frets rather than rests.

stallion

A male horse used for breeding.

stallion season

The right to breed one mare to a particular stallion during one breeding season.

stallion share

A lifetime breeding right to a stallion; one mare per season per share.

state-bred

A horse bred in a particular state and thus eligible to compete in races restricted to state-breds.

stockings

Solid white markings extending from the top of the hoof to the knee or hock.

stripe

A white marking running down a horse’s face, starting under an imaginary line connecting the tops of the eyes.

stud

1) Male horse used for breeding. 2) A breeding farm.

stud book

Registry and genealogical record of Thoroughbreds, maintained by the Jockey Club of the country in question. Use lower case when describing a generic stud book, all words, including “The,” are capitalized when describing “The American Stud Book.”

suckling

A foal in its first year of life, while it is still nursing.

swipe

A groom.

teaser

A male horse used at breeding farms to determine whether a mare is ready to receive a stallion.

Thoroughbred

A Thoroughbred is a horse whose parentage traces back to any of the three “founding sires” the Darley Arabian, Byerly Turk and Godolphin Barb, and who has satisfied the rules and requirements of The Jockey Club and is registered in “The American Stud Book” or in a foreign stud book recognized by The Jockey Club and the International Stud Book Committee. Any other horse, no matter what its parentage, is not considered a Thoroughbred for racing and/or breeding purposes.

top line

A Thoroughbred’s breeding on its sire’s side.

untried

A stallion that has not been bred.

weanling

A foal that is less than one-year-old that has been separated from its dam.

white

A horse color, extremely rare, in which all the hairs are white. The horse’s eyes are brown, not pink, as would be the case for an albino.

yearling

A horse in its second calendar year of life, beginning Jan. 1 of the year following its birth.

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