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Horse Facts/Tips
First Posted First Posted May 26, 2006>
Jul 25, 2010

Horse Words and Phrases

With common usage there are many horse words and phrases that make their way into the English language. Have you ever considered the many sayings, phrases, and references there are to our equine friends? I have started a list that will be expanded as time goes on. I hope that you enjoy it. Please help me by e-mailing any words or phrases that you may know that are not on this list. I will gladly add them.

  • A Heat A race
  • A Dead Heat Right together and running close together
  • A Horse's A** Referring to someone who doesn't make us happy
  • A Horse of a Different Color A different story
  • A Colt Referring to young male who is full of energy
  • A Filly Referring to a young female who is quite pretty and full of energy
  • A Stud Referring to a virile male
  • Across the Board All taken into consideration
  • All out The best one can do
  • As healthy as a horse Very healthy and fit
  • As heavy as a horse Referring to an overweight individual
  • As hungry as a horse Referring to someone who is famished
  • Backing the wrong horse To put your faith in a losing choice
  • Barefoot and pregnant A breeding mare is usually kept barefoot and is continually bred. This may be as often as every 11 months.
  • Beating a dead horse After failure the continuation of your efforts when it is not any longer practical
  • Blowout Going all out or no holds barred
  • Bolt To run for it or to take off
  • Breaking Taking a different course or changing step
  • Breeder One who breeds horses.
  • By a nose To be in front by a tiny margin
  • Cavalier Aristocratic behavior
  • Changing horses mid stream Changing your way of thinking or strategy part way through your decision making process
  • Charging ahead full tilt From Shakespeare. Proceed with great determination
  • Chomping (champing) at the bit Wanting to go faster. Ready to move out. Often a horse will actually mouth his bit with great gusto as the excitement level heightens. The horse does not want to be held back.
  • Chivalry From the French word for horse which is cheval.
  • Colors Refers to jockey's silk colors or to show your true character
  • Crinoline Now refers to a full petticoat. These are mostly noted for use under wedding dresses to make them stand out. Originally this referred to a loosely woven, horse hair cloth that was used to give stiffness to fabric.
  • Daily Double Betting jargon
  • Dark Day A bad day
  • Dark Horse An unknown
  • Dead heat Very close, even, neck and neck
  • Dog A loser
  • Don't Beat a Dead Horse Be done with it. Take your losses.
  • Don't put the cart before the horse Don't get ahead of yourself. Do things in an orderly fashion.
  • Don't look a gift horse in the mouth You got a good price for something. Don't question it.
  • Exacta Betting jargon
  • Feeling your oats Full of energy and feeling good
  • Flighty as a mare To be unpredictable
  • Free-for-all Anyone's guess
  • Green Untrained or new
  • Go the Distance Make the effort to go to the end
  • Good old horse Refers to something solid and loyal
  • High Horse To have a superior attitude. Feeling above the crowd
  • Hold your horses Stop what you are doing. Wait a minute
  • Hoofing it Moving fast or sometimes refers to dancing
  • Horse face A large face. Not usually meant as a compliment.
  • Horse laugh A hardy laugh
  • Horse play Rough play
  • Horse power Strength How fast something can go
  • Horse sense Good common sense. To have an intuitive understanding.
  • Horse trader Often used to refer to someone who will cheat you. Let the buyer beware.
  • Horseless carriage Refers to the automobile when it was invented and replaced the horse as a means of transportation
  • Horsey Meaning chunky or heavy (slang) Refers to a female.
  • Horsing around Just playing
  • In the money Racing jargon which has come to mean making money
  • Kicking up your heels Feeling fine, feeling good, energy
  • Kicking up a storm Same as above
  • Knee deep in clover Refers to a horse who is really eating well. Is used in common language to refer to someone who is really doing well.
  • Neck and neck Right together
  • Nightmares Having bad dreams or conjuring up bad thoughts in the night
  • Pick up the pace Go faster
  • Pony-up To settle your financial account or arrangement to pay.
  • Ponytail Hairdo for a little girl or woman.
  • Post To mark, step up, to get ready to start
  • Paddock An enclosure usually for a horse
  • Reining in To pull back or slow down
  • Riding roughshod over someone Making someone's life miserable. To push hard without any regard for someone's emotional or physical well being. Horse's were ridden roughshod when the nails that hold on the horseshoes stuck out improperly. It could be extremely painful to the horse.
  • Scratch To eliminate
  • Spur on To encourage to go faster or do better
  • Spooky Scary or flighty
  • Stallion Refers to a male who uses his masculinity often.
  • Step it up Go faster or increase
  • Stick, bat, crop A whip for a horse
  • Straight from the horse's mouth To hear the real scoop from the source that knows the real deal or true story.
  • Stubborn as a mule Mules have dispositions that are quite moody and often they will refuse to work. In fact, they often just lay down and will not get up!
  • Tack Horse equipment
  • The old grey mare she ain't what she used to be Getting older and slowing down.
  • Trifecta Racing jargon
  • You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink You can show the way, but can't make someone do something they don't want to do.
  • Wild goose chase Originally this saying came from an equestrian sport that was started in Ireland. It has come to mean that someone looks for something that does not exist. Also, it can mean a journey or search without purpose.

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