In The Saddle: Brown? More like 50 shades of bay!

Anita has been left out of the saddle after a knee injury.
Anita has been left out of the saddle after a knee injury.
  • Horsey jargon explained
  • I’m missing being around my horse
  • Out of the saddle for a knee operation
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I’ve recently had news following an MRI scan that I require a knee operation.

I’m missing being around my horse incredibly and was trying to explain the depressing feeling to a ‘non-horsey’ friend because I couldn’t hack out.

She had no idea what I was talking about. Hack? What did hack mean? Wasn’t it something we journos did to unsuspecting people to gain the scoop of the day?

It was then I realised we horsey folk have our very own language. What she needed was a jargon buster for my call.

I explained that ‘hack’ in horsey terms meant ‘a ride in the countryside.’ It didn’t stop there though. I decided to bore my poor friend with everything. I explained if I was to write an ad to sell my mare it would probably be full of jargon such as ‘15.2hh TBxISH tobiano mare, good to shoe, box, clip. Hacks alone or in company etc.’

What that would actually mean to a normal non-horse lover is my horse is 15.2 hands high (her height) is brown, white and black in colour (tobiano), is female (mare = her sex), good to shoe means great with the farrier, good to ‘box’ means loads up in a trailer or lorry without problems and ‘clip’ means she’s not fazed by trimmers (something we do to avoid sweating and cooling down issues in winter).

It was then that I realised we horsey folk have our very own language

Anita Marsh

‘Hacks alone’ or in ‘company’ means she’s bold enough to ride out on her own and doesn’t need a lead horse to help her be brave and ‘in company’ means she behaves well with others out riding, not getting giddy. The ‘TBxISH’ is her breed - Thoroughbred cross Irish Sports Horse.

Colours have a completely different way of being used in the horse-world. We don’t say ‘brown’ for a horse coat, we say ‘bay’. You can add ‘light’, ‘dark’ or ‘bright’ in front of this as a rule of thumb to describe the various shades of brown. ‘Green’ though has nothing to do with colour, this actually means an inexperienced horse – usually a youngster. Confusing? My friend thought so.

We refer to ‘poo pick’ as a way to describe getting all the manure up from your field and ‘muck out’ to explain we are cleaning the horse’s stable of manure. To ‘pick out’ means to clean the horse’s hoof out of mud, stones and other debris. This tends to end with a clean hoof for the horse and mud all over your hands and sleeves.

If we talk about ‘flat work’ it’s nothing to do with buildings. It’s what we say when we are teaching a horse general riding techniques without jumps. This can also be referred to as ‘schooling’ but prefixed with ‘flat work’ or ‘jumping’ depending exactly what we are educating ourselves (and our horses in).

A lot of schooling, if we are fortunate, is carried out in a ‘ménage’ which is a posh name for a riding area with a surface that can be sand or rubber. Finally, what we all wish to gain in the end is a horse who is a schoolmaster - a horse which has basically been there, done it and worn the T-shirts.

We also have a couple of swear words too, depending on how our day has gone with horses but these are pretty generic across the English language. My friend assured me she didn’t need those explaining though but I think in future she may avoid my calls!