American Association of Equine Practitioners
American Association of Equine Practitioners

Glossary of Terms HEADING_TITLE

      abscess: an infection around which the body has constructed a wall of 

      fibrous tissue, to isolate it. Treatment with antibiotics is more likey to 

      be effective if drainage of the abscess can be established, eliminating 

      accumulated pus and debris.

     action: a horse’s manner of moving.

      acupressure: utilizing stimulation on acupuncture points to treat an 


      acupuncture: a centuries-old means of treating an animal or human through 

      use of needles, electrical current, or moxibustion (heat and herbs) to 

      stimulate or realign the body’s electrical fields.

      acute: referring to a disease: An acute disease is a disease of short, 

      sharp course.

      age: many breeds, including Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, celebrate a 

      common 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.     

      AHS: African Horse Sickness.

     all out: when a horse extends itself to the utmost.

      alternative therapy: a group of therapies (acupuncture, chiropractic, 

      physical therapy, herbology, naturopathy) that help maintain the horse’s 

      health and performance but without using medication.

      angular limb deformities: a limb that is crooked because of developmental 

      problems in the angles of the joints. A problem of young horses, often 

      present immediately after birth.

      anhydrosis: inability to sweat in response to work or an increase in body 

      temperature. Also known as a "non-sweater." Athletic horses are affected 

      most frequently, though the condition also appears in pastured horses that 

      are not being ridden. Most commonly occurs when both temperature and 

      humidity are high. Horses raised in temperate regions and then transported 

      to hot climates are most prone to develop the condition, but even 

      acclimated horses can be at risk. Clinical signs include inability to 

      sweat, increased respiratory rate, elevated body temperature and decreased 

      exercise tolerance. The condition can be reversed if the horse is moved to 

      a more temperate climate.

     anterior enteritis: acute inflammation of the small intestine producing 

      signs of abdominal distress such as colic and diarrhea.

     anterior: toward the front of the horse’s body.

     aortic rupture: bursting of the aorta (artery coming from the left 

      ventricle of the heart that distributes blood to nearly all of the body).

     arthritis: inflammation of a joint. An increase in the amount of synovial 

      fluid in the joint is a result of the inflammation. Accumulation of 

      synovial fluid in the fetlock joint is called a "wind puff" or "wind 


     arthroscope: a tiny tube of lenses used for viewing areas inside a joint. 

      Usually attached to a small video camera.

      arthroscopic surgery: surgery performed through the use of an arthroscope 

      which eliminates the need to open the joint with a large incision in order 

      to view the damaged area.

      articular cartilage: cartilage that covers the ends of bones where they 

      meet in a joint.

      artificial breeding: includes artificial insemination or embryo transfer 


      arytenoid cartilages: triangular cartilages in the upper part of the 

      entrance to the larynx. Movements of the arytenoids cartilages control the 

      diameter of the laryngeal opening.

     ataxia: loss or failure of muscular coordination.

     atrophy: to waste away, usually used in describing muscles.

     avermectin: a class of dewormer products. The equine product ivermectin is 

      a member of this class.

        back at the knee: a leg that looks like it has a backward arc with its 

      center at the knee when viewed from the side.


      bad doer: a horse with a poor appetite, a condition that may be due to 

      nervous-ness or other causes.


      bandage: bandages used on horses’ legs are 3 to 6 inches wide and are made 

      of a variety of materials. In a competition, they are used for support or 

      protection against injury. A horse may also wear "standing bandages," 

      thick cotton wraps used during shipping and while in the stall to prevent 

      swelling and/or injury.


      bar shoe: a horseshoe closed at the back to help support the frog and heel 

      of the hoof. It is often worn by horses with quarter cracks or bruised 



      barren: used to describe a filly or mare that was bred and did not 

      conceive during the last breeding season.


     basilar (fracture): see sesamoids.


      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.


     benign: referring to a cancerous growth: Not invasive or destructive, and 

      not tending to spread to other areas of the body.


      bit: mouthpiece made of variety of materials, including stainless steel, 

      rubber or aluminum, jointed or unjointed, and attached to the bridle. It 

      is one of the means by which a rider exerts guidance and control. Three 

      common types of bits are the snaffle, Pelham and curb.


      black walnut shavings toxicosis: an as-yet unexplained poisoning from skin 

      contact with wood shavings made from the black walnut tree, most often the 

      consequence of unknowingly using them to bed a stall. (Anecdotal evidence 

      suggests that other walnut varieties may also be toxic.) Vasculitis and 

      laminitis are virtually guaranteed and usually severe. Treament involves 

      removing the walnut shavings and treating the resultant vasculitis and/or 



      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 of medium 

      width running the length of the horse's face.


     bleeder (see exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage): a horse that bleeds 

      from the lungs when small capillaries rupture into the air sacs. The 

      medical term is Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH). Blood may be 

      seen coming out of the horse’s nostrils. This is termed epistaxis. 

      Diagnosis of EIPH is typically made during a post-exercise veterinary 

      examination using a fiberoptic endoscope. The procedure is referred to as 

      an endoscopic examination. Less than one bleeder in 20 shows signs of 

      epistaxis (blood at the nostrils). Hot, humid weather and cold weather are 

      known to exacerbate the problem. The most common preventive treatment 

      currently available is the use of the diuretic furosemide (Salix™).


      blister beetle poisoning: poisoning due to ingestion of a beetle, 

      typically 1/2 inch long, solid black or black with yellow stripes. It 

      inhabits some alfalfa fields and other forages, and contains a powerful 

      stomach irritant called canthardin. Most poisonings occur when the beetle 

      is killed and baled into your horse's hay, then ingested. The toxin can 

      cause severe colic due to burning of the stomach lining. Ingestion of only 

      a few beetles can be fatal to a full-grown horse and treament is 

      symptomatic and supportive. Prognosis is guarded: As many as half of all 

     patients die despite vigorous therapy.


     blister: counter-irritant causing acute inflammation. Used to increase 

      blood supply and blood flow, and to promote healing in the leg.

      bloodstock agent: a person who advises and/or represents a buyer or seller 

      of horses at a public auction or a private sale. A bloodstock agent 

      usually works on commission, often five percent of the purchase price, and 

      can also prepare a horse for sale.


     blue roan: in Quarter horses, a more or less uniform mixture of white with 

      black hairs over a large portion of the body, but usually darker on head 

      and lower legs; can have a few red hairs in the mixture.


      bog spavin: a soft swelling caused by excess synovial fluid of the largest 

      joint of the hock called the "tibiotarsal joint."


     bone grafts: utilizing bone taken from one part of the body to promote 

      formation of bone in another region.


      bone spavin: bone spavin is arthritis of the lower portion of the hock. 

      Most commonly, bone spavin appears as a hard swellling on the inner 

      (joint) surface, where the hock meets the cannon bone. It also can occur 

      in the lower aspect of your horse's hock joint without visible 

      enlargement. Lameness is common but can be difficult to detect because 

      both hind limbs are often affected. Pain is often associated with flexing 

      and advancing the affected the affected limb(s), causing your horse to 

      carry the leg(s) abnormally and/or drag his toe, as revelaed by unusual 

      wear patterns there.


      boots: any of a number of devices strapped or hung from a horse's legs and 

      coronets designed to offer protection from injury.


     bottom line: a horse's breeding on the female side. The lower half of an 

      extended pedigree diagram.


     bottom: 1) stamina in a horse. 2) subsurface of a racing strip.


      botulism, forage poisoning: disease caused by the nerve-poisoning toxin of 

      the bacteria Clostridium botulinum which live in certain soils, wounds and 

      in decaying organic matter. The first signs in adult horses can include 

      loss of tongue, tail and eyelid tone, resulting in subtle changes in the 

      face and tail carriage that often go unnoticed. As the disease progresses, 

      swallowing can become difficult, resulting in quidding, drooling, tongue 

      lolling and/or bad breath, followed by weakness, gait instability, 

      collapse and death by respiratory paralysis. Intensive-care treament, 

      including administration of botulism antitoxin, is successful in 

      approximately 70 percent of cases.


      bowed tendon: tendonitis. The most common injury to the tendons is a 

      strain or "bowed tendon" so named because of the appearance of a bow shape 

      due to swelling. The most common site of injury is in the superficial 

      digital flexor tendon between the knee and the ankle behind the cannon 

      bone. Despite aggressive treatment with anti-flammatory drugs, physical 

      therapy and rest, horses frequently reinjure the tendon when they go back 

      into competition. Two surgeries are felt to aid horses to come back to 

      competition: tendon splitting at the lesion site to release accumulated 

      fluid and blood, and superior check ligament desmotomy (dissection of the 

      ligament). The latter surgery, which involves severing one of the upper 

      attachments of the tendon, is designed to reduce forces on the tendon when 

      the horse returns to training and competing. Diagnostic ultrasound is the 

      most common method of diagnosing this condition and monitoring the healing 



      brace or bracer: rubdown liniment used on a horse after a workout.


      breakdown: when a horse expereices a potentially career-ending injury, 

      usually to the leg involving a fracture. Some can be repaired with surgery 

      and physical therapy.


     breastplate: piece of tack that fits across the horse’s chest and is 

      attached to the saddle. Its purpose is to prevent the saddle from slipping 



     breather: easing off a horse for a short distance in a speed effort to 

      conserve or renew its strength.


      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: 1) a sort or type of horse. 2) to reproduce.


     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.

      breeze (breezing): working a horse at a moderate speed, less effort than 



      bridle: a piece of equipment, usually made of leather or nylon, which fits 

      on a horse’s head and to which other equipment, such as a bit and the 

      reins, are attached.


     broken wind: see chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


     brush: injury that occurs when one hoof strikes the inside of the opposite 


     bucked shins: inflammation of the covering of the bone (periosteum) of the 

      front surface of the cannon bone. Usually seen in two-to three-year-old 

      Thoroughbreds. See periostitis


     bulbs of the heel: the two areas on either side of the back of the foot, 

     similar to the heel of the hand.


     bursa: a sac containing synovial fluid (a natural lubricant). Acts as a 

     pad or cushion to facilitate motion between soft tissue and bone. Most 

     commonly found where tendons pass over bones.

      bursitis: inflammation in a bursa that results in swelling due to 

      accumulation of synovial fluid. Capped elbow is inflammation of the bursa 

      over the point of elbow (olecranon process of the ulna). Capped hock is 

      inflammation of the bursa over the point of the hock (tuber calcis).

      bute: short for phenylbutazone, a non-steroidal anti-flammatory 



      buy-back: a horse out 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.


      BVMS: Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery. Equivalent to DVM. 

      Awarded in United Kingdom.


      BVSc: Bachelor of Veterinary Science. Equivalent to DVM. Common veterinary 

      degree description outside the United States.

        C.N.S.: central nervous system.


      calk or caulk: a projection on the heels of a horseshoe, similar to a 

      cleat, to prevent slipping, especially on wet turf.


      canker: an infection of the frog that can spread to the adjacent sole and 

      hoof wall. The affected frog grows thick folds and ridges, and a 

      foul-smelling, cottage-cheese like exudate oozes from the crevices. 

      Affected feet are usually lame. Canker is most often caused by long term 

      hoof neglect and wet, filthy footing. Because infection is often quite 

      deep, successful treament might require surgical debridement and systemic 



      cannon bone: the third metacarpal (front leg) or metatarsal (rear leg), 

      also referred to as the shin bone. The largest bone between the knee and 

      fetlock (ankle) joints.


      canthardin poisoning: see "blister beetle" poisoning.


      capillary refill time: the amount of time it takes for blood to return to 

      capillaries after it has been forced out, normally two seconds. It is 

      usually assessed by pressing the thumb against the horse’s gums; when the 

      pressure is removed the gum looks white, but the normal pink color returns 

      within two seconds as blood flows into the capillaries. A delayed 

      capillary refill time is an indication of dehydration.


      capped elbow: inflammation of the bursa over the point of elbow (olecranon 

      process of the ulna). Also known as "shoe boil." See bursitis.

      capped hock: inflammation of the bursa over the point of the hock (tuber 

      calcis). See bursitis.


      carpus: a collection of three joints halfway up the horse’s front leg, 

      more commonly referred to as the knee. However, the carpus is actually 

      equivalent to the human wrist.


      cast: 1) a horse positioned on its side or back with its legs wedged 

      against a wall such that it can not get up. 2) A fiberglass cast that is 

      applied to a horse’s leg to protect it in the event of a fracture or 



      cataract: loss of transparency of an eye lens. Once a lens becomes 

      clouded, there is no treament to restore it. If the cataract is large 

      enough to block vision, the lens may be removed surgically, which permits 

      the horse to see, but not to focus.


      cathartic: a laxative given to quickly purge your horse's bowels of their 

      contents. Examples include epsom salt solution, mineral oil or psyllium.


      caudal: toward the tail of the horse.


      CBC: Complete Blood Count.


      cellulitis: inflammation of cells and connective tissue, usually 

      associated with deep skin conditions such as scratches or greasy heel.


      chestnut: 1) 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. 2) horny growth on the 

      inner side of the legs. On the forelegs, they are just above the knees. On 

      the hind legs, they are just below the hocks. No two horses have been 

      found to have the same chestnuts and so they may be used for 

      identification. Also called "night eyes."


      chiropractic: use of bone alignment by veterinarians or under a 

      veterinarian’s direction to treat malalignment problems.


      choke: an object or wad of feed lodged in your horse's esophagus. Muscles 

      around the obstruction clench in response, prolonging the choke and 

      increasing the odds of damage to esophageal lining, which can lead to 

      narrowing of the esophagus due to scar tissue. (A narowed esophagus is 

      prone to repeated chokes.) During a choke, food, water and saliva are 

      regurgitated through one or both nostrils and your horse may cough and/or 

      retch. Encouraging the choked horse to keep his head lowered can help 

      prevent regurgitated material from spilling into the windpipe (trachea), 

      which can cause aspiration pneumonia. Treatment can include: gentle 

      irrigation and suction of impacted feed with warm water or saline through 

      a stomach tube, removal of any lodged foreign matter with an operating 

      endoscope or by surgery (a last resort) if it can't be removed 

      endoscopically, and/or diagnosis and treatment of any underlying problem 

      that caused the choke. Anti-inflammatory medications usually are given to 

      soothe tissues inflamed by the choke and treatment. Treatment for 

      aspiration pneumonia is administered, if necessary.


     choking down: see dorsal displacement of the soft palate.


     chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: commonly known as "COPD," a 

     hyperallergenic response of the respiratory system that involves damage to 

     the lung tissue, similar in may ways to human asthma. Affected horses may 

     cough, develop a nasal discharge and have a reduced exercise tolerance. 

     Respiratory rate is increased and lung elasticity is diminished.


     chronic osselet: permanent build-up of synovial fluid in a joint, 

     characterized by inflammation and thickening of the joint capsule over the 

     damaged area. Usually attended by changes in the bone and cartilage. See 



     chronic: a disease or condition of long duration.


    CL: corpus luteum. A progesterone secreting gland in the ovary formed from 

     the wall of an ovarian follicle.


     clerk of scales: an official whose chief duty is to weigh the riders and 

     tack after a race or competition to ensure proper weight is (was) carried.


     climbing: when a horse lifts its front legs abnormally high as it gallops, 

     causing it to run inefficiently.


     closed knees: a condition where the cartilaginous growth plate above the 

      knee (distal radial physis) has turned to bone. Indicates completion of 

      long bone growth and is one sign of maturity.


      coffin bone fracture: a fracture that usually is associated with a misstep 

      or fall;  commonly seen on the inside (and more consistently stressed) leg 

      of racehorses. Symptoms usually include sudden onset lameness, heat that 

      can be felt on the hoof wall and increased digital pulse. Treatment 

      depends on the fracture's location and on how unstable it is. Some cases 

      heal well with 12 months' rest and application of a bar shoe to limit hoof 

      flexion. Others require surgery and stabilization of the fracture with 

      bone screws.


      coffin bone: the third phalanx (P3). The major bone within the confines of 

      the hoof. Also called the "pedal [PEE-dal] bone."


      coggins test: a blood test to detect infection with the virus that causes 

      Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). The disease is spread by biting insects 

      that feed on infected horses, then carry the virus to other horses. Many 

      events such as shows and rodeos require recent (6 to 12 months) negative 

      Coggins tests on all participants, and most states require negative 

      Coggins test in horses crossing their borders. Horses testing positive 

      become subject to state law that requires quarantine away from biting 

      insects and other horses, or euthanasia. There is no known cure and no 



      colic: refers to abdominal pain, usually due to intestinal problems and/or 

      gas build-up. 


      colitis: inflammation of the colon, usually due to infection. Diarrhea, 

      colic pain and rapidly progressing dehydration are usually the result. 

      Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing dehydration and 

      shock while identifying and treating the underlying cause, if possible.

      colors (horse): include bay, black, chestnut, dark bay or brown, dun, 

      gray, palomino, roan, sorrel, white.


      colt: an ungelded (entire) male horse four years old or younger.

      comminuted (fracture): a fracture with more than two fragments.

      compound (fracture): a fracture where damaged bone breaks through the 

      skin. Also known as an "open" fracture.

      condylar (fracture): a fracture in the lower knobby end (condyle) of a 

      long bone, such as the cannon bone or humerous.


      conformation: the physical make-up and bodily proportions of a horse; how 

      it is put together.


      congential: present at birth.


      conjunctivitis: inflammation and/or infection of the tissues around the 

      eye. Symptoms can include reddening, itching, watering and swelling. 

      Causes can include irritants such as dust or flies; trauma and infection. 

      Treatment usually includes gently cleaning, addressing the underlying 

      cause and medicating with ointments containing appropriate antibiotics 

      and/or anti-inflammatory medication.


     cooling out: reducing a horse’s temperature after exercise, usually by 

      walking. All horses that are exercised are cooled out. Horses that work 

      hard in hot, humid weather have difficulty cooling out. Under these 

      circumstances cold water may be applied to their bodies and the excess 

      water scraped off to assist cooling.


      COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heaves: see Heaves, chronic 

      obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD. 


      corn: a bruise on the sole of the foot, toward the heel as a result of 

      pressure from the shoe.


      cornea: the transparent, domed portion


      corneal abscess: an infection between the onion-like layers of the cornea, 

      most associated with a penetrating wound. The condition is painful and, if 

      unresolved, can result in blindness. Treament is chanllenging since the 

      location of the infection between corneal layers makes it difficult for 

      topical or systemic medications to penetrate to the site. Treatment 

      usually is similar to that of a corneal ulcer; in nonresponsive cases, 

      surgery may be needed to remove corneal layers and expose the abscess. (If 

      the infection is resolved, the cornea will heal.)


     corneal ulcer: a defect in the cornea, most often associated with injury 

      and subsequent infection. The condition is painful and, if unresolved, can 

      result in blindness. Treatment usually includes antibiotics and other 

      medications to combat infection, inflammation and pain and facilitate 

      repair of the damaged cornea. In most cases, topical treatment is used.


     coronary band: where the hoof meets the skin of the leg.


      corticosteriods: hormones that are either naturally produced by the 

      adrenal gland or manmade. Perform an anti-inflammatory function and 

      regulate the chemical stability (homeostasis of the body).


     cough: to expel air from the lungs in a spasmodic manner. Can be a result 

     of inflammation or irritation to the upper airways (pharynx, larynx or 

     trachea) or may involve the lower airways of the lungs (deep cough).


     cover: 1) a single breeding of a stallion to a mare. 2) in race-driving, 

     the horse racing immediatley in front of another is said to be the "cover" 

     of the trailering horse. The horse behind the cover has a horse cutting 

     the wind, but, obviously, trails by at least a length.


     cow hocks: abnormal conformation in which the points of the hocks turn in 

     when viewed from behind. 


    cracked hoof wall: a vertical split of the hoof wall. Cracks may extend 

    upward from the bearing surface of the wall or downward from the coronary 

    band, as the result of an injury to the band. Varying in degrees of 

    severity, cracks can result from injuries or concussion. Hooves that are 

    dry and/or thin (shelly) or improperly shod are susceptible to cracking 

    upon concussion. Corrective trimming and shoeing may remedy mild cracks, 

    but in severe cases when the crack extends inward to the sensitive 

    laminae, more extensive treatment is required, such as using screws and 

    wires to stabilize the sides of the crack.


    cranial: toward the head of the horse.


    creep feeder: a feeding device designed to allow a foal to eat but keep 

     its dam out. Otherwise, the mare will eat the foal’s food.


    cribber (wind sucker): horse who clings to objects with his teeth and 

     sucks air into his stomach. Also known as a "wind sucker" when a horse 

     sucks air without grasping an object between his teeth.


     crop: 1) the number of foals by a sire in a given year. 2) a group of 

     horses born in the same year. 3) a jockey's whip.


     cryptorchid: a "unilateral cryptorchid" is a male horse of any age that 

     has one testicle undescended. A "bilateral cryptorchid" is male horse of 

     any age that has both testicles undescended.


     cup: concavity in the occlusal surface of the tooth (the surfaces that 

     meet when a horse closes its mouth) in young horses. It is used as a 

     visual aid in determining the age in a horse. Also known as the 



     curb: 1) a thickening (strain) of the plantar ligament of the hock that 

     causes an enlargement on the back of the hind cannon region just below the 

     point of the hock. 2) Also, a type of bit.


     Cushing's disease: a hormonal disease due to a pituitary gland tumor. It 

     causes a variety of problems which can include diabetes-like syndrome; 

     weight loss; chronic laminitis and a long, shaggy, curly hair coat that 

     fails to shed. There is no cure, but in some cases the signs can be 

     lessened by administration of medications to suppress overproduction of 

     certain hormones, and stimulate production of the neurotransmitter 



     cut down: horse suffering from injuries from being struck by the shoes of 

     another horse. Or, due to a faulty stride, a horse may cut itself down.


     cyst: an enclosed, smooth lump with a solid or liquid center produced by 

     the cells lining the cyst's wall. Cysts generally do not cause problems 

     unless their location and size are in the path of tack or interfere with 

     function of adjacent parts. Treatment options may include surgical 

     removal, cryosurgery, cauterization or obiteration by laser. When a 

     fluid-filled cyst is simply drained, it usually refills within a few days.

      dam: the female parent of a foal.


      dam’s sire (broodmare sire): the sire of a broodmare. Used in reference to 

      the maternal grandsire 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.

      deep digital flexor tendon: present in all four legs, but injuries most 

      commonly affect the front legs. Located on the back (posterior) of the 

      front leg between the knee and the foot and between the hock and the foot 

      on the rear leg. The function is to flex the digit and fetlock and support 

      the lower limb as part of the suspensory apparatus. In the front limb it 

      also flexes the knee (carpus) and extends the elbow. On the rear leg, it 

      also extends the hock. Functions in tandem with the superficial flexor 



      degenerative joint disease : any joint problem that has progressive 

      degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying (subchondral) bone. 

      Also called osteoarthritis, a severe form of arthritis that has a 

      progressive degeneration of joint cartilage. Occurs most frequently in the 

      joints below the radius in the foreleg and the femur in the hind leg. Some 

      of the more common causes include repeated trauma, conformation faults, 

      blood disease, traumatic joint injury, subchondral bone defects 

      (OCD-osteochondritis dessicans-lesions) and repeated intra-articular 

      corticosteroid injections.


      desmitis: inflammation of a ligament. Involves tearing of ligament 

      fibrils. The number of torn fibrils determines the severity of the injury.

      deworming: the use of drugs (anthelmintics) to kill internal parasites, 

      often performed by administration of oral paste or by passing a 

      nasogastric tube into the horse’s stomach.


      digestible energy: the amount of energy the horse is able to digest from 



      digit: the part of the limb below the fetlock (ankle) joint. Includes the 

      long and short pastern bones, the coffin bone and the navicular bone.


      digital cushion: thick elastic tissue lying under the frog and separating 

      it from the coffin bone. It serves as a shock absorber.


       distaff: a female horse.


      distal sesamoidean ligaments: attach the bottom of the sesamoid bones to 

      the long and short pastern bones.


      distal: away from the center of the body. Usually refers to the limbs. The 

      injury was distal to (below) the hock .


      DMSO: dimethyl sulfoxide, a topical anti-flammatory.


      dorsal displacement of the soft palate: a condition in which the soft 

      palate, located on the floor of the airway near the larynx, moves up into 

      the airway. A minor displacement causes a gurgling sound during exercise 

      while in more serious cases the palate can block the airway. This is 

      sometimes known as "choking down" or "swallowing the tongue" but the 

      tongue does not actually block the airway. The base of the tongue is 

      connected to the larynx, of which the epiglottis is a part. When the 

      epiglottis is retracted, the soft palate can move up into the airway 

      (dorsal displacement). This condition can sometimes be managed with 

      equipment such a figure eight noseband or a tongue-tie. In more extreme 

      cases, surgery might be required, most commonly a "myectomy" (excision of 

      the muscles that retract the larynx).


      dorsal: toward the back or spine of the horse (upwards). Also, used to 

      describe the front surface of the lower limb below the knee (front limb) 

      or hock (rear limb).


      drench: liquid (usually medication) administered through the mouth.


      driving: a horse that is all out to win and under strong urging from its 



      DVM: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.


      dysphagia: difficulty swallowing, which can be due to pain, obstruction 

      (choke) or a problem with the nerves that govern throat muscles. The most 

      common signs of dysphagia are slobbering of food from the mouth and/or 

      drainage of chewed food and saliva from nostrils. Treatment usually is 

      aimed at identifying and resolving the underlying cause and adjusting 

      feeding methods (e.g. feeding by stomach tube) to avoid aspiration 


        ear mites: infestation by parasites that have invaded the horse's ear 

      canal, causing inflammation, itching and increased wax formation. Signs 

      can include head shaking and holding the ear drooped to one side. 

      Treatment is generally aimed at killing the mites with insecticides and 

      cleaning the ear of wax and debris that resulted from inflammation. 

      (Sedation usually is needed to accomplish this).


      earmuffs: a piece of equipment that covers a horse’s ears to prevent it 

      from hearing distracting sounds or having insects bother its ears.


      Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE): viral infection of the horse's 

      brain and spinal cord, which can infect horses, humans and selected birds, 

      transmitted by mosquitoes. Signs can include behavioral changes, loss of 

      appetite and fever. These can progress in 12 to 24 hours to dementia with 

      head pressing, teeth grinding, circling and often blindness. The disease 

      is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases. Surviving horses often have 

      residual mental dullness. Treatment is generally supportive.


     EEE (Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis): one of several contagious types of 

     encephalomyelitis that causes sickness and death in horses by affecting 

     the central nervous system. EEE is spread by mosquitoes and can affect 

     humans. Can be prevented through annual vaccinations.


      EIA: Equine Infectious Anemia. A contagious disease characterized by an 

      intial acute attack of fever, weakness to the point of incoordination and 

      jaundice, as well as other signs. Ensuing attacks result in anemia, 

      emaciation and cardiac insufficiency. It is spread by biting flies and 



      EIPH: Exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. See bleeder.


      ELISA: Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay. A form of testing to determine 

      levels of medication existent in the fluids of horses.


     encephalitis: inflammation of the brain, usually due to infection.


     endometritis: inflammation of the uterine lining, usually due to 



       endoscope: an instrument used for direct visual inspection of a hollow 

      organ or body cavity such as the upper airway or stomach. A "fiberoptic 

      endoscope" is comprised of a long, flexible tube that has a series of 

      lenses and a light at the end to allow the veterinarian to view and 

      photograph the respiratory system by insertion through the nostrils and 

      air passageways. Other internal organs may be viewed by inserting the 

      endoscope through a surgical opening. A "video endoscope" has a small 

      camera at the tip of the instrument.


      endotoxemia: blood poisoning that can occur with such serious conditions 

      as Potomac horse fever, colitis, grain overload, severe colic, Salmonella 

      infection, respiratory tract infection or uterine infection. As bacteria 

      die a natural death, they release a miniscule amount of toxin that has no 

      effect on the horse unless the bacteria are present in larger-than-usual 

      numbers. In such a case, the dose of toxin the horse absorbs can cause 

      endotoxemia. This condition is the biggest killer of horses from 

      non-traumatic causes, and is the cause of death in most fatal colics.


      endotoxin: a substance produced by bacteria that, when absorbed into the 

      horse's body, can cause endotoxic shock.


     enterolith: a "stone" in the horse's intestinal tract, made of minerals 

     present in the feed and/or intestinal secretions, and usually formed 

      around a foreign body, such as a small piece of debris. Small, pebble-like 

      enteroliths can be swept out with the manure, or can remain in the 

      intestinalo tract where they grow larger, later interfering with manure 

      passage. Treatment often includes removal by surgery. If enteroliths are 

      small enough, removal by regular administration of a bulk laxative can be 

      used. Dietary changes may also be prescribed. 


      entire: an ungelded horse.


      entrapped epiglottis: a condition in which the thin membrane lying below 

      the epiglottis moves up and covers the epiglottis. The abnormality may 

      obstruct breathing. Usually treated by surgery to cut the membrane if it 

      impairs respiratory function.


     epiglottis: a triangular-shaped cartilage that lies at the base of the 

      airway just in front of the arytenoids cartilages. It covers the airway 

      during swallowing to prevent the entry of foreign bodies. It is normally 

      located above (dorsal to) the soft palate.


     EPM: infection of the brain and spinal cord by a protozoan called 

     Sarcocystis neurona.The protozoa are spread by the definitive host the 

     opossum, which aquires the organism from scavenging carcasses of cats, 

     raccoons, skunks, armadillos and possibly even from harbor seals and sea 

     otters. Horses become infected by eating on contaminated areas where 

     opossums droppings are present. Signs can vary widely and may include 

     weakness, staggering, head tilt, dysphagia and/or seizures. Diagnosis is 

     based on symptoms and spinal tap of the horse. 


     equine influenza: a contagious viral disease of the upper respiratory 

     tract. Symptoms may include cough, fever, muscle soreness and nasal 

     discharge. Treatment is generally supportive. Rest until at least two 

     weeks after the cough has resolved is an important component of successful 

     treatment, since premature return to work can prolong the cough. 

     Vaccination is the most effective means of prevention.


       equine viral arteritis (EVA): a contagious viral disease spread by casual 

     contact or by breeding with a previously infected mate. If mares are 

      infected while pregnant, they will usually abort. Affected horses are sick 

      and contagious for a week to 10 days with flu-like symptoms. Most victims 

      recover completely with proper nursing care (but can spread the disease to 

      others after recovery, via sexual contact). 


     estrous cycle: the length of time between consecutive ovulations.


     estrus (heat): associated with ovulation; a mare usually is receptive to 

      breeding during estrus. The mare’s behavior at this time is referred to as 



      euthanasia: elective termination of the horse’s life for humane reasons.


      EVA (equine viral arteritis): a highly contagious disease that is 

      characterized by swelling in the legs of all horses and swelling in the 

      scrotum of stallions; can cause abortion in mares and can be shed in the 

      semen of stallions for years after infection.


      extensor tendon: tendon of a muscle that extends the knee (carpus) joint.

     farrier: horseshoer.


    fetlock (joint): joint located between the cannon bone and the long 

    pastern bone, equivalent to the human knuckle but often referred to as the 



    filly: female horse four years old or younger. The age in Quarter horses 

    is three years old and younger.


     Firm (track): a condition of a turf course corresponding to fast on a dirt 

     track. A firm, resilient surface.


     fissure (fracture): longitudinal crack through only one surface of a bone.


     fistulous withers: a deep infection at the withers, possibly due to a 

     contusion-type injury from poor-fitting tack, followed by a break in the 

     skin through which damaged tissues become contaminated. Signs may include 

     swelling, heat, pain and discharge of pus and debris through draining 

     tracts. Treatment, which is done cautiously to avoid human infection, 

     generally focuses on debridement and disinfection of contaminated tissues. 

     In some cases, administration of systemic antibiotics is performed.

     flack jacket: similar to a jacket worn by a quarterback, the rider’s flak 

     jacket protects the ribs, kidneys and back.


    flat race: contested on a level ground without a jumping component as 

    opposed to a steeplechase. Often used in the term, on the flat.


    float: 1) v. an equine dental procedure in which sharp points on the teeth 

    are filed down. 2) n. the instrument in which the above procedure is 



    foal: 1) a horse of either sex in its first year of life. 2) as a verb, to 

    give birth.


   footing: the surface upon which the horse performs.


   fracture: a break in a bone. 


    frog: the V-shaped, pliable support structure on the bottom of the foot.


    full brother, full sister: horses that share the same sire and dam.


   furlong: one-eighth of a mile; 220 yards; 660 feet.


   furosemide: a medication for the treatment of bleeders, commonly known 

   under the trade name Salix. Furosemide is primarily a diuretic, but has 

   also been shown to reduce hypertension (high blood pressure) in the 

   horse’s lung.

"grab a quarter": injury to the back of the hoof or foot caused when the 

      hind hoof steps on the front hoof. Also known as "overreaching."


      gait: the characteristic footfall pattern of a horse in motion. Four 

      natural gaits are performed by all horses: walk, trot, canter and gallop. 

      Some horses also perform other gaits, such as the pace, running walk, 

      rack, etc.


      gastric ulcer: ulceration of a horse’s stomach. Often causes symptoms of 

      abdominal distress (colic)


      gelding: a male horse of any age that has been neutered by having both 

      testicles removed ("gelded").


      get: progeny of sire.


      girth: an elastic and/or leather band, sometimes covered with sheepskin, 

      that passes under a horse’s belly and is connected to both sides of the 



      grandsire: the grandfather of a horse; father (sire) of the horse’s dam or 



      gravel: infection of the hoof resulting from a crack in the white line 

      (the border between the insensitive and sensitive laminae). An abscess 

      usually forms in the sensitive structures, and may eventually break at the 

      coronet as a result of the infection.


      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.


      greasy heel, grease heel: a severe, deep skin infection on the backs of 

      the horse's pasterns. The bubbly-looking skin growth creates deep crevices 

      for the infective organism to escape topical treatments. This condition 

      usually involves two or more feet, most often the hind feet. Successful 

      treatment typically requires aggressive debridement, with twice daily 

      cleansing and disinfection of remaining tissues. The horse should be 

      housed in an area that's dry and clean. Systemic antibiotics may be 

      warranted if the specific infective bacteria are identified via culture.


      green osselet: in young horses, a swelling in the fetlock joint, 

      particularly on the front of the joint where the cannon and long pastern 

      bones meet. This swelling is a result of inflammation and reactive changes 

      of the front edges of these two bones. If the green osselet does not heal, 

      a "chronic osselet" might develop with a permanent build-up of synovial 

      fluid in the joint and inflammation and thickening of the joint capsule 

      over the damaged area, with secondary bone changes following the initial 



      groom: a person who cares for a horse in a stable.


      growth plates: located near the end of long bones where they grow in 



      grullo: body color in American Quarter horses smoky or mouse-colored (not 

      a mixture of black and white hairs, but each hair mouse colored); mane and 

      tail black; usually has black dorsal stripe and black on lower legs.


      guttural pouch: an air-filled pouch in the throat region that may become 

      infected. The pouch is part of the Eustachian tube, a passage between the 

      pharynx and the middle ear, and is unique to the horse.

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 



      halter: like a bridle, but lacking a bit. Used in handling horses around 

      the stable and when they are not being ridden.


      hand gallop: a gallop of moderate speed.


      hand ride: urging a horse with the hands and not using the whip.


      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 high is 

      15 hands 2 inches. Thoroughbreds typically range from 15 to 17 hands.


       harrow: implement or unit with pulling teeth or tines used to rake and 

      loosen the footing in an area.


      heaves: emphysema.


      heel crack: a crack on the heel of the hoof. Also called a "sand crack."


      helmet: shock-absorbing head gear worn by riders to prevent head injuries.


      hematoma: a blood-filled area resulting from injury.


      hock: a large joint just above the cannon bone in the rear leg that 

      corresponds to the level of the knee of the front leg. Equivalent to the 

      human ankle joint.


      homebred: a horse bred by his owner.


      hoof: the foot of the horse. Consists of several parts that play an 

      integral role in supporting the weight of the horse.


      horse: when reference is made to sex, a "horse" is an ungelded male five 

      years old or older (i.e., a stallion).


      horsing: behavior of a mare in heat (in season).    

      Hyaluronic acid: a normal component of joint fluid. Also can be manmade 

      intra-articular medication used to relieve joint inflammation (Adequan™ or 



      Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP): an inherited disorder of certain 

      lines of Quarter horses, most noticeably those related to the late halter 

      stallion Impressive. Affected horses seem normal between attacks. These 

      can be mild or severe, and last from a few minutes to several hours, and 

      seem to be triggered by work stress, anxiety, cold, and/or eating a diet 

      high in potassium. Signs may include occasional skin rippling, localized 

      muscle twitching, violent body-wide tremors, sweating, panting, passing 

      loose manure, hindlimb weakness and collapse. Sever episodes can be fatal 

      due to heart failure. Diagnosis is confiemed through genetic blood 

      testing. There is no cure, but frequency and severity of attacks can be 

      reduced with careful management and diet adjustment to reduce potassium 


 icing: 1) a physical therapy procedure, properly known as "cryotherapy." 

      2) when a horse stands in a tub of ice or when ice packs are applied to 

      the legs to reduce pain and/or swelling.


      icterus: yellow discoloration of skin and mucus membranes (gums, eyelid 

      rims, inner surface of vulva) due to accumualtion of pigments normally 

      metabolized by the horse's liver. Causes can include liver disease, 

      hemolytic anemia, snakebite, ingestion of certain potential toxins such as 

      red maple leaves, onions, or phenothiazine drugs and fasting. Treatment 

      usually is focused on addressing the underlying problem.


      identification: involves a system of recognition of several types of 

      markings by the horse identifier. Marking's are noted on an animal's breed 

      registry papers and usually range from coat color, lip tatoos, hair 

      whorls, cowlicks, white markings, night eyes, scars and brands.


      IgG: Immunoglobulin.


      IM: abbreviation for intramuscular, an injection given in a muscle.


      impaction: a type of colic caused by a blockage of the intestines by 

      ingested material. Constipation.


      in foal: pregnant mare.


      inferior check ligament: a ligament that runs from the back of the knee or 

      the hock to the deep digital flexor tendon.


      influenza: a viral infection that causes a highly contagious 

      upper-respiratory disease. Signs can include fever, dry cough, watery 

      nasal discharge, decreased appetite, muscle soreness, enlarged lymph nodes 

      and swollen legs. The rule of thumb is to rest a minimum of three weeks, 

      or one full week for every day the horse had a fever, whichever is longer. 

      Influenza vaccine is usually recommended up to four times per year, 

      depending on the incidence of the disease and the horse's exposure to 

      other horses.


      insensitive laminae: the layer just under the wall of the hoof; similar to 

      the human fingernail. It is an integral structure that helps to attach the 

      hoof wall to the underlying coffin bone.


      intra-articular: within a joint.


      ischemia: a deficiency of blood supply that may be temporary or permanent. 

      Caused by shutting down of the blood vessels.


      isolation barn: a facility used to separate sick horses from healthy ones.


      IV: abbreviation for intravenous; an injection given in the vein.

     jack spavin: see bone spavin.


     jog: slow, easy trot.


     joint capsule: the structure that encloses the joint space.


     jumper: steeplechase or hurdle horse.


     juvenile warts: pink or brown, fleshy, hairless growths, usually on the 

      muzzle or elsewhere on the face of young (less than 3-years-old) horses. 

      Believed to be caused by a contagious virus, juvenile warts tend to run 

      their course and disappear suddenly after being present a few weeks to 

      several months. It's believed that the positive response to various home 

      remedies is merely coincidence - the warts were going to resolve anyway.


      juvenile: two-year-old horse.

      kissing spines, overriding dorsal spinous processes: a touching or 

      overriding of the vertical (dorsal) spinous processes of the vertebrae. 

      The primary sign generally is pain on palpation over the backbone and the 

      long muscles beside it. Depending on the location and extent of the 

      problem, the horse's gait may be restricted. Treatment options may include 

      rest, injection of the area with medication to block inflammation and 

      pain, acupuncture, ultrasound or surgery.

      lactic acid: organic acid normally present in small amounts in muscle 

      tissue, produced by anaerobic muscle metabolism as a by-product of 

      exercise. An increase in lactic acid occurs during exercise. A large 

      accumulation causes muscle fatigue, inflammation and pain.


      lameness: a deviation from a normal gait due to pain in a limb or its 

      supporting structure.


      laminae: a part of the hoof. See insensitive laminae and sensitive 



      laminitis: an inflammation of the sensitive laminae of the foot. Many 

      factors are involved, including changes in the blood flow through the 

      capillaries of the foot. Causes include ingesting toxic levels of grain, 

      eating lush grass, systemic disease problems, high temperature, toxemia, 

      retained placenta, excessive weight-bearing as occurs when the opposite 

      limb is injured, and the administration of some drugs. Laminitis usually 

      manifests itself in the front feet, develops rapidly, and is life 

      threatening, although in mild cases a horse can resume a certain amount of 

      athletic activity. Laminitis caused the death of Secretariat.

      laser (or cold laser): a low-intensity focused beam of light used to 

      reduce inflammation and promote circulation.


      lateral: toward the side and farther from the center. Pertains to a side.


      lathered (up): see washed out.


      lead: 1) see shank. 2) the front leg that is last to hit the ground during 

      a gallop or canter stride.


      left laryngeal hemiparesis: when the vocal fold or arytenoids cartilage on 

      the left side of the airway becomes partially or totally paralyzed and 

      interferes with air flow. Causes a whistling or "roaring" noise during 

      inspiration when the horse exercises. See roaring.


      ligament: a band of fibrous tissue connecting bones that supports and 

      strengthens the joint and limits the range of motion.


      lunge: a method of exercising a horse on a tether ("lunge line").


      Lyme disease: infection with the spiral-shaped bacteria Borrelia 

      burgdorferi, spread by the bite of an infected tick. Signs may vary widely 

      and can include recurrent lameness that shifts from one leg to another and 

      for which no other cause can be found, arthritis, stiffness and reluctance 

      to move. Treatment is usually administration of antibiotics from the 

      penicillin or tetracycline family.

magnetic therapy: physical therapy technique using magnetic fields to 

      create a low energy electrical field. It causes dilation of the blood 

      vessels (vasodilation) and tissue stimulation. Magnetic therapy may be 

      used on soft tissue to treat such injuries as tendonitis or bony 

      (skeletal) injuries such as bucked shins.


      maiden: 1) a horse or rider that has not won a race. 2) a female horse 

      that has never been bred.


      malignant: referring to a cancerous growth: locally invasive and 

      destructive, and/or tending to spread to other areas of the body.


      mare: female horse five years old or older. In American Quarter horses, 

      four and older.


      martingale: piece of tack used to help the rider maintain control in 

      horses that evade the action of the bit by raising their head.


      mash: soft, moist mixture, hot or cold, of bran, grain and other feed that 

      is easily digested by horses.


      massage: rubbing of various parts of the anatomy to stimulate healing or 



      medial: pertaining to the middle in anatomy, nearer the media plane (the 

      vertical plane that bisects the center) of the body when viewed from in 

      front or behind.


      melanoma: usually firm, smooth, hairless black nodules relatively common 

      in gray horses, most often found u der a horse's tail, around his ear and 

      on his face near the main joint of his jaw. Some can grow aggressively, 

      causing erosions and spreading to adjacent lymph nodes and lungs. Most 

      melanomas grow slowly and are benign (don't tend to spread to other 

      organs). Treatment is seldom recommended, as external melanomas often 

      return after surgical removal. 


      metacarpal: usually refers to a fracture of the cannon bone, located 

      between the knee and the fetlock joint in the front leg. Also, may refer 

      to a fracture of the splint bone.


      midges, no-see-ums: tiny flies of the Culicoides family, considered 

      responsible for the warm-weather skin allergy called Sweet itch.


      monorchid: a male horse of any age that has only one testicle in his 

      scrotum; the other testicle was either removed or is undescended. 


      moon blindness: a disease of the uvea (the colored iris) inside the 

      eyeball. The uvea becomes inflamed (uveitis), which causes its muscles to 

      spasm, thereby constricting the pupil. Eye pain from uveitis is severe and 

      can cause squinting, tearing, excessive blinking and dangerous eye rubbing 

      (increasing the risk of eye trauma). If not resolved, uveitis can result 

      in permanent blindness. Treatment can include topical and systemic 

      medication to relieve pain and inflammation, relax the spasming and combat 

      possible infection. 


     musculoskeletal system: consisting of the bones, muscles, ligaments, 

     tendons and joints of the head, vertebral column and limbs, together with 

     the associated muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.


     muzzle: 1) nose and lips of a horse. 2) a guard placed over a horse’s 

     mouth to prevent it from biting or eating.

nasogastric tube: a long tube that is capable of reaching from the nose to 

      the stomach used to administer medications.


      navicular bone: a small, flat bone within the hoof that helps, along with 

      the short pastern bone and the coffin bone, to make up the coffin joint.


      navicular disease: a degenerative disease that affects the navicular bone 

      (small bone in the back of the foot), navicular bursa and deep digital 

      flexor tendon. Generally considered a disease of the front feet. Both 

      front feet are often affected, but one will usually be more noticeable 

      than the other.


      near side: left side of a horse; side on which a horse is mounted.


      nerve block: injection of local anesthetic in the vicinity of a specific 

      nerve to deaden the region for which that nerve provides sensation and 

      motor function. Nerve blocks are used to diagnose lameness, to allow 

      pain-free surgery on an awake patient, to paralyze specific body parts 

      (e.g. to paralyze a wounded eyelid so it will hold for repair) and to 

      relax internal muscles. Depending on the local anesthetic used, effects 

      can last from 20 minutes to eight hours.


      neurectomy: a surgical procedure in which the nerve supply to the 

      navicular area is removed. The toe and remainder of the foot have feeling. 

      Also referred to as "posterior digital neurectomy" or "heel nerve."


      night blindness: an inherited vision problem that, although present at 

      birth, might not be noticed until later in life. Signs can include 

      reluctance to move when it's dark, head cocking as though trying to hear 

      what can't be seen, star gazing and a cross-eyed appearance when viewed 

      from the front. There is no known treatment.


      noseband: a leather strap that goes over the bridge of a horse’s nose to 

      help secure the bridle. A dropped noseband, flash noseband and 

      figure-eight (or grackle) noseband have a strap that fits under the rings 

      of the bit to prevent the horse from resisting the action of the bit by 

      opening its mouth. This keeps the tongue from sliding over the bit.

oblique (fracture): fracture at an angle to the shaft of the bone.


      OCD (osteochondritis desicans) lesion: a cartilaginous or bony lesion that 

      is the result of a failure in development.


      off side: right side of horse.


      oiled (oiling): administering mineral oil via nasogastric tube to help 

      relieve gas or pass blockage. Preventive procedure commonly used in long 

      van rides to prevent impaction colics.


      on the bit: refers to carriage of the horse in which the neck and back are 

      rounded, the hind legs are well engaged and the horse is obedient to the 

      action of the bit. Also known as "in the bridle".


     on the muscle: denotes a fit horse.


     osteoarthritis: a severe form of arthritis that has a progressive 

     degeneration of joint cartilage. Occurs most frequently in the joints 

     below the radius in the foreleg and the femur in the hind leg. Some of the 

     more common causes include repeated trauma, conformation faults, blood 

     disease, traumatic joint injury, subchondral bone defects (OCD) lesions 

     and repeated intra-articular corticosteroid injections. A permanent form 

     of arthritis with progressive loss of the articular cartilage in a joint. 


      over at the knee: type of conformation in which the front leg looks like 

      it has a forward arc with the center at the knee when viewed from the 



      overcheck: a strap that holds the bit up in the horse’s mouth.


      overgirth: an elasticated strap that goes completely around a horse over 

      the saddle, to keep the saddle from slipping.


      over-reaching: toe of hind shoe striking the forefoot or foreleg.

P3: third phalanx.


      paddle: type of movement in which the lower front leg swings outward. 

      Often associated with toe-in conformation.


      paint: counter-irritant used to increase blood supply and blood flow and 

      to promote healing in the leg. A mild form of blistering.


      palmar: back of front limb from knee down.


      parrot mouth: an extreme overbite.


      pastern: the area between fetlock joint and hoof. It comprises the long 

      (P1) and short (P2) pastern bones and the pastern joint.


      pemphigus foliaceus: a skin disorder caused by the body's immune system 

      mistakenly attacking some of its own cells involved in skin production. 

      Signs may include the formation of blisters and pustules that break open 

      and form crusted sores. Lesions generally start on the horse's face and 

      limbs, eventually spreading to the rest of the body. There is no cure, but 

      treatment can control the lesions and cause the disorder to go into 

      remission. Treatment may involve suppression of the immune system by 

      administration of systemic corticosteroids.


      periostitis: inflammation of tissue (periosteum) that overlies bone. 

      Periostitis of the cannon bone is referred to as bucked shins, while 

      periostitis of the splint bone is called a splint. May be heard in the 

      expression "Popped a splint."


      physis (plural, physes): the "growth plate" at the end of the long bones 

      (such as the cannon bone) that lets the bone grow.


      physitis: an inflammation in the growth plate (physis) at the ends of the 

      long bones (such as the cannon bone) in young animals. Symptoms include 

      swelling, tenderness and heat. Although the exact cause is unknown, 

      contributing factors seem to be high caloric intake (either from grian or 

      a heavily lactating mare) and a fast growth rate.


      pigeon fever: infection of a bacteria, causing one or more lumps beneath 

      the skin the horse's brisket and lower abdominal area. Treatment may 

      include the application of hot packs and/or poultices to draw out 

      infection and/or lancing the abscesses. Antibiotics may also be prescribed 

      after abscesses have been lanced.


      pin firing: thermocautery used to increase blood flow to leg, thereby 

      promoting healing.


      pinhooker: a person who buys horses, cattle, etc. with the specific 

      intention of re-selling it at a profit.


      pipe-opener: exercise at brisk speed.


      Piroplasmosis (or equine babesiosis, "piro" or horse tick fever):

      tick-borne disease caused by blood parasites. Acute signs include fever, 

      anemia, jaundice and swelling of the legs, chest and abdomen. The disease 

      is ultimately resolved through treatment, natural body defenses or death. 

      Horses in the United States are largely unexposed and are therefore 

      susceptible to the disease, while many European horses are symptomatic 



      plantar: back of the hind limb from the hock down.


      poll: the top of the head, between the ears.


      polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAG): an anti-inflammatory agent used by 

      intra-articular injection in the therapy of traumatic and degenerative 

      arthritis in horses.


     posterior: situated toward the rear of the horse’s body.


      Potomac Horse Fever (PHF): protozoal infection of the intestinal tract 

      usually causing diarrhea, fever, depression and colic. Treatment is 

      generally supportive and administration of appropriate antibiotics, along 

      with preventive measures to avoid the development of laminitis, a common 

      sequel to PHF. 


     poultice: a soft, mushy dressing, made of a mixture of dry, absorbent 

     substances with liquid or oil, applied to wounds or swellings to soften, 

     relax or stimulate the tissues or reduce swelling.


    prep: a workout used to prepare a horse for a competition.


    prop: when a horse suddenly stops moving by digging its front feet in to 

    the ground.


    proud flesh: an overgrowth of pink, bubbly-looking tissue during healing 

    of certain flesh wounds. It can protrude from the injury site like a 

    tumor, preventing new skin from covering the wound. Treatment depends on 

    location and severity, and will usually include one or more of the 

    following: topical application of various medications designed to melt 

    away the excessive tissue, pressure bandages and/or surgical removal of 

     proud flesh.


     pull up: to stop or slow a horse during a workout.


     pulled suspensory: strain of the suspensory ligament (suspensory desmitis) 

     in which some portion of the fibers of the ligament have been disrupted. 

     Depending on severity, there may be loss of support of the fetlock joint.

       quarantine barn: 1) a U.S. Department of Agriculture structure used to 

      isolate foreign horses for a short period of time to ensure they are not 

      carrying any disease. The structure may be at a racetrack, airport or 

      specially designated facility. Horses must be cleared by a federal 

      veterinarian before being released from quarantine. 2) any facility used 

      to keep infected horses away from the general equine population.


     quarter crack: a vertical crack in the hoof wall between the toe and heel 

      of the hoof, usually extending into coronary band.


     Quarter Horse: American Quarter Horse, preferred terminology of the 

      American Quarter Horse Association, the registering body. Descended from 

      Thoroughbreds and Spanish Barb bloodlines, the quarter horse is the most 

      popular breed in the world with more than three million horses registered. 

      It excels at virtually every equestrian sport and is known for its innate 

      "cow sense," making it the ideal ranch horse.


     quicked: a horse is "quicked" when a hoof is trimmed too short or when a 

      horseshoe nail is driven into the quick or sensitive lamina of the hoof. 

      In many cases, the horse flinches or pulls back when the quick occurs. 

      Within a few days, some cases develop tenderness and mild to moderate 

      lameness due to developing infection in the area. Treatment involves 

      removal of the offending nail, if applicable, cleansing the hole and 

      application of a poultice to draw out remaining contamination.


     quidding: the spitting out of partially chewed wads of food. Quidding is a 

      sign of a dental problem and/or difficulty swallowing.

radiograph: the picture or image on film generated by X-rays.


      rainrot: a crusting skin disorder affecting your horse's saddle area, with 

      tufts of crusted-together hair easily pulled out, leaving a raw crater. 

      The causative organism, which has characteristics of both bacteria and 

      fungi, tends to thrive in wet weather when the skin is waterlogged and 

      less capable of fighting infection. It can spread to other horses by the 

      use of contaminated grooming tools. Treatment usually is softening and 

      removal of scabs, disinfection of affected area with iodine or 

      chlorhexidine-based shampoos or rinses, strict hygiene and provision of 

      dry shelter and disinfection of grooming tools. Severe or persistent cases 

      might also be treated with systemic antibiotics.


      RBC: Red Blood Cell Count


     recumbent: lying down, reclining.


      red roan: more or less uniform mixture of white with red hairs on a large 

      portion of the body of the American Quarter horse, but ususally darker on 

      head and lower legs; can have red, black or flaxen mane and tail.


      reins: long straps, usually made from leather, that are connected to the 

      bit and used by the rider to control the horse.


      reserve: a minimum price, set by the consignor, for a horse in a public 



      respiratory system: organ system responsible for transporting air from 

      nostrils to lungs and for absorption of oxygen and excretion of carbon 



      ride short: using short stirrups.


      ridgling ("rig"): a term describing either a cryptorchid or a monorchid. 

      Also spelled "ridgeling."


      ring bone: osteoarthritis of joints between the pastern bones ("high ring 

      bone") or just above the coronet ("low ring bone").


     ringworm: a fungal infection of the horse's skin, contagious to other 

     horses and to other animals (including humans). The main sign of ringworm 

     is patchy hair loss without itching. Treatment can include clipping hair 

     from affected areas, daily bathing with iodine-based shampoo, possible 

     application of topical antifungal preparations after each bath, strict 

     maintenance of dry shelter and exposure to sunlight whenever possible. For 

     severe cases, oral administration of anti-fungal medications may be 



     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.

     roaring (laryngeal hemiplegia): a whistling sound made by a horse during 

     inhalation while exercising. It is caused by a partial or total paralysis 

     of the nerves controlling the muscles that elevate the larynx. In severe 

     cases, a surgical procedure known as laryngoplasty or "tie back surgery" 

     is performed, in which a suture is inserted through the cartilage to hold 

     it out of the airway permanently. Paralysis almost exclusively occurs on 

     the left side, most frequently in horses over 16 hands high.


     rogue: ill-tempered horse.


     run down: abrasions of the heel.

saddle pad: a piece of felt, sheepskin, foam rubber, or cotton, used as a 

      base for the saddle.


      salmonellosis, salmonella infection: a contagious intestinal infection, 

      causing severe acute diarrhea or chronic diarrhea. Acute diarrhea is 

      usually accompanied  by fever and abdominal pain, horses that recover 

      often fall victim to laminitis. Treatment usually requires aggressive 

      intensive care, qurantine, pain management, stress management and may 

      include antibiotics and transfaunation.


      sarcoid: a skin condition caused by an invasion of skin tissues by 

      unidentified virus. Lesions usually are tumor like, sometimes ulcerated, 

      spreading locally or to other areas of the horse's body. For each case, 

      optimal treatment usually is chosen on the basis of individual 

      characteristics, such as location, aesthetics and aggressive growth. It is 

      not uncommon for sarcoids to return after removal.


      savage: when a horse bites another horse or person.


     Scintigraphy (nuclear scintigraphy): a diagnostic imaging technique 

     particularly well suited to the equine athlete. To image the horse’s 

     musculoskeletal system, a bone-seeking radiopharmaceutical, usually 

     Technectium — 99M, is injected intravenously and an image is subsequently 

     produced using a gamma camera. The bone-seeking radiopharmaceutical will 

     be deposited where the bone is more metabotically active, such as at 

     stress fractures or other abnormal inflammatory conditions.


      scratches: a hot, swollen, raw, painful inflammation of the skin on the 

     back's of the horse's pasterns, usually involving two or more feet. 

     Treatment requires diligence and strict hygiene, and generally includes 

     gentle daily or twice daily cleansing of the area, removal of scabs, 

     application of an antiseptic dressing and housing in an area that is dry 

     and clean. Treatment failure occurs when the inflammation and/or infection 

     are too deep to be reached topically, requiring systemic medication and/or 

     surgery to remove affected tissue.


     screw fixation: a procedure in which steel alloy screws are surgically 

     inserted to hold together a fractured bone.


     sensitive laminae: sensitive tissue beneath the hoof wall that contains 

     nerves and vessels.


      septicemia: blood poisoning due to bacteria and their toxins in the 

      horse's bloodstream. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, fever and 

      depression. Treatment generally includes support and administration of 

      antibiotics to which the causative bacteria are sensitive.


      sequestrum: a loose, dead fragment of broken bone, often causing local 



      sesamoid bones: two small bones (medial and lateral sesamoids) located 

      above at the back of the fetlock joint.


      sesamoid fracture: fracture of sesamoid bone. Fractures can be small chips 

      or involve the entire bone. According to their location, fractures are 

      described as apical, abaxial or basilar. Surgical repair is often done by 



      sesamoiditis: inflammation of the sesamoid bones.


      shadow roll: a (usually sheepskin) roll that is secured over the bridge of 

      a horse’s nose to keep it from seeing shadows on the ground and shying 

      away from or jumping them.


      shank: rope or strap attached to a halter or bridle by which a horse is 



      shedrow: stable area; a row of barns.


      shedding: 1. exfoliation of entire skin; 2. falling out of haircoat; 3. putting animals into a shed; 4. excretion of an infectious agent from the body of an infected host.


      shivers: a trembling disorder of the hind lmbs and, in severe cases, other 

      body parts. Signs are seen most often when the horse is at rest, backing 

      or when asked to pick up a hind foot. Trembling can also occur in the 

      tail, forelimbs, eyes and ears. In some cases, shivers has occurred after 

      recovery from general anesthesia; in other cases, particulary in draft 

      horses, it appears when a horse is worked strenuously enough to become 

      rapidly fatigued. The condition tends to worsen over time, and there is no 

      specific treatment. Some cases respond well to anti-inflammatory 



     simple fracture: a fracture along a single line.


     sinker: in laminitis, when the coffin bone becomes detached from the hoof 

     wall, sinks downward and pushes through the sole of the foot.


     sire: 1) the male parent. 2) to beget foals.


     slab fracture: a fracture in a bone in a joint that extends from one 

     articular surface to another. Most often seen in the third carpal bone of 

     the knee.


    slipped: a breeding term meaning spontaneous abortion.


    snip: small patch of white hairs on the nose or lips of a horse.


    socks: solid white markings on the legs extending from the top of the hoof 

    to the fetlock.


    solid horse: contender.


    speedy cut: injury to inside of the knee or hock caused by a strike from 

    another foot.


    spiral fracture: fracture which spirals around the bone.


    spit the bit: a term referring to a tired horse that begins to run less 

    aggressively, backing off on the "pull" a rider normally feels on the 

    reins from an eager horse. Also used as a generic term for an exhausted 



    splint: 1) either of the two small bones that lie along the side of the 

    cannon bone. 2) the condition where calcification occurs on the splint 

    bone causing a bump. This can result from a fracture or in response to 

    trauma to the splint bone. 


    sprain: mild tearing of a ligament.


    stall walker: horse that moves about its stall constantly and frets rather 

    than rests.


    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.


   stallion: an intact male horse.


    star: any number of white markings on the forehead, (the forehead defined 

    as being above an imaginary line connecting the tops of the eyes.)


    steeplechase: jumping a series of brush fences at a gallop.


    steward: officials responsible for monitoring adherence to rules during 



    stifle: joint above the hock which is made up by the femur, the patella 

    and the tibia. Inflammation of the stifle is often called gonitis. 

    Equivalent to the human knee.


    stirrups: metal d-shaped rings that support the rider’s feet. They are 

    suspended from the saddle by the stirrup leathers. The length of the 

    leathers is adjusted to accommodate the rider’s leg length and riding 



    stockings: solid white markings on the legs extending from the top of the 

    hoof to the knee or hock.


   strain: tearing of a tendon.


   strangles: contagious upper respiratory tract infection that can cause 

   fever, loss of appetite, watery-to-thick nasal discharge, cough and 

   swelling and eventual drainage of pus from the lymph nodes under the 

   horse's lower jaw. Treatment is generally supportive. Hot packs and/or 

   poultices are used to encourage drainage of abscessed lymph nodes. 

   Administration of systemic antibiotics may be indicated. 

   stress fracture: a fracture produced by the stress created by repetitive 

   loading of the bone during locomotion. May occur as a consequence of 

   athletic training.


    stride: a complete cycle of limb movements at any gait. Stride length is 

   the distance covered between successive imprints of the same hoof.

    stringhalt: a muscle and/or nerve disorder, affecting one or both hind 

    limbs. The affected horse often lift his affected hind limb(s) too high, 

    sometimes so high that he kicks himself in the belly, holds the leg 

    elevated for a moment, then slaps it sharply down. This condition can 

    develop at any age and the cause is unknown. Stringhalt is usually treated 

    with muscle relaxants and/or surgical removal of a section of the culprit 

    muscle and its tendon, the lateral digital extensor. Without treatment, 

    the condition rarely improves.


    stripe: a white marking running down a horse’s face, starting under the 

    forehead, an imaginary line connecting the tops of the eyes.


    stud fee: the fee paid for the breeding services of a stallion. Can range 

    from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands.


    stud: 1) male horse used for breeding. 2) a breeding farm.


    studs: removable metal projections of various shapes and sizes that are 

    used on the bottom of the horse’s shoes to provide additional traction on 

    a grass surface.


    suckling: a foal in its first year of life, while it is still nursing.


    sulk: when a horse refuses to extend itself.


    superficial digital flexor tendon: located on the back of the leg between 

    the knee (front leg) or hock (rear leg) and the pastern. The function is 

    to flex the digit, and aid in support of the lower limb or digit (coffin, 

    pastern and fetlock joints) in all four limbs. In the front leg it also 

    flexes the knee (carpus) and extends the elbow, while in the rear leg it 

    extends the hock. Functions in tandem with the deep digital flexor tendon. 

    Injuries more often affect the front legs.


    superior check ligament: fibrous band of tissue that originates above the 

    knee and attaches to the superficial flexor tendon. Primary function is 

    support of the tendon. Also known as the accessory ligament of the 

    superficial flexor tendon.


    suspensory ligament: originates from the top part of the cannon bone and 

    runs down the back of the leg. Just above the fetlock, it divides into two 

    branches that attach to the sesamoid bones, then passes around to the 

    front of the pastern where it joins the extensor tendon. Its function is 

    to support the fetlock.


    swayback: horse with a prominent concave shape of the backbone, usually 

    just behind the withers (saddle area).


    sweet itch, queensland itch: hypersensitivity to the bites of tiny members 

    of the Culicoides fly family called midges or no-see-ums. An affected 

    horse rubs the crest of the neck until mane hairs break off and the skin 

    becomes thickened. There is no cure. Treatment can include increasing pest 

    control efforts, and, in severe cases, administration of systemic 

    corticosteroids to soothe inflamed tissues.    

    swipe: a groom.


    synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (thumps): a contraction of the diaphragm 

    in synchrony with the heart beat after prolonged exercise. Affected horses 

    have a noticeable twitch or spasm in the flank area, which may cause an 

    audible thumping sound, hence the term "thumps." Most commonly seen in 

    electrolyte-depleted/exhausted horses. Usually, the condition resolves 

    spontaneously with rest and appropriate therapy.


    synovial fluid: lubricating fluid within a joint, tendon sheath or bursa.


    synovial joint: a moveable joint that consists of articulating bone ends 

    covered by articular cartilage held together with a joint capsule and 

    ligaments. The joint capsule contains synovial fluid.


    synovial sheath: the inner lining of a tendon sheath that produces 


    synovial fluid. Allows ease of motion for the tendons as they cross 



   synovitis: inflammation of a synovial structure, typically a synovial 


tack: 1) a rider's equipment. 2) As a verb, including his/her equipment as 

      in: He tacks his horse each day.


     Tagamet™: trade name for the drug cimetidine, a medication used to treat 



     tattoo: a permanent, indelible mark on the inside of the upper lip used to 

      identify racehorses.


      teaser: a male horse used at breeding farms to determine whether a mare is 

      ready to receive a stallion.


      tendinitis: inflammation of a tendon, usually due to injury. Signs 

      generally include swelling and heat over affected tendon, pain on finger 

      pressure, lameness and a protective stance to limit tendon stress. 

      Treatment may include aggressive first aid to limit swelling and 

      hemorrhage between tendon fibers, enforced rest, immobilization of the 

      tendon, administration of anti-inflammatory medications and physical 

      therapy to limit formation of adhesions.


      tendon sheath: sheath containing synovial fluid that surrounds a tendon in 

      a high-friction area, usually where a tendon runs over a bone.


      tendon: cords of strong, white, collagen fibers that connect a muscle to a 

      bone or other structure and transmit the forces generated by muscular 

      contraction to the bones.


      tendonitis: inflammation of a tendon usually due to tendon fiber 



      tetanus antitoxin: antitoxin is a product made from blood serum containing 

      antibodies against a specific toxic (poison). Tetanus antitoxin is made of 

      equine serum and contains antibodies against the tetanus toxin.


      tetanus toxoid: a toxoid is a vaccine made of toxin (poison) that has been 

      altered chemically so that it has no toxic effects, but is able to 

      stimulate immune response. Tetanus toxoid is a vaccine that stimulates the 

      horse's body's production of antibodies against the toxins that cause 



     tetanus: a disease resulting from toxins produced by bacteria, usually 

     resulting when they infect a wound, particularly a deep puncture wound, 

     where oxygen is scarce. Because this bacteria is present in the horse's 

     manure, they are ubiquitous in the soil on a horse property. Signs of 

     tetanus may include elevation of both nictitating membranes when the 

     horse's face is tapped gently below the eye, spasms of the muscles in the 

     jaw, making it difficult or impossible to eat or drink, a "sawhorse" 

     stance with rigid legs, convulsions triggered by noise or other stimuli, 

     profuse sweating and death. Treatment is usually aggressive debridement of 

     the infected wound to prevent further toxin absorption, intravenous 

     administration of tetanus antitoxin, administration of anti-seizure 

     medications, sedatives and muscle relaxants and intensive supportive care 

     including intravenous fluids and feeding a gruel via stomach tube.


     therapeutic ultrasound: a therapy to create heat and stimulate healing.


     thermography: diagnostic technique utilizing instrumentation that measures 

     temperature differences. Records the surface temperature of a horse. 

     Unusually hot or cold areas may be indicative of some underlying pathology 

     (deviation from the normal.)


     third phalanx(P3): see coffin bone.


     Thoroughbred: A horse whose parentage traces to any of three "founding 

     sires" (the Darley Arabian, Byerly Turk or Godolphin Barb) and who 

     satisfies 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.


     thoroughpin: swelling in the tendon sheath of the deep digital flexor 

     tendon above the hock.


     thrush: a bacterial infection of the frog and/or adjacent crevices of the 

     foot's sole, causing a blackish discharge and foul odor. Treatment 

     generally includes trimming and debridement of affected tissues, 

     disinfection with copper sulfate, tincture of iodine (7 percent), or 

     merthiolate, provision of dry clean environment, good hygiene and daily 

     foot care.


     thumps: see synchronous diaphragmatic flutter.


     tie-back surgery: a procedure used to suture the arytenoids cartilage out 

     of the airway as a treatment for roaring. Referred to as laryngoplasty. 

     See roaring

     tightener: a leg brace.


     toe crack: a vertical crack in the hoof wall near the front of the foot.


     toe-in: a conformation flaw in which the front of the foot is rotated 

     inward and looks pigeon-toed. Often causes the leg to swing outward during 

     locomotion (paddle).


     toe-out: a conformation flaw in which the front of the foot is rotated 

     outward. Often causes the leg to swing inward during locomotion (winging).


     tongue tie: strip of cloth-type material used to stabilize a horse's 

     tongue to prevent it from "choking down" in a race or workout or to keep 

     the tongue from sliding over the bit, rendering the horse uncontrollable. 

     Also know as a "tongue strap."


     top line: 1) A horse's breeding on its sire's side 2) The visual line 

     presented by the horse's back.


     torsion: a twist in the intestine.


     toxemia: a poisoning sometimes due to the absorption of bacterial products 

     (endotoxins) formed at a local source of infection.


     TPR: Temperature, Pulse, Respiration.


     tracheotomy: an artificial opening made in the windpipe (trachea) when a 

     problem in the horse's nasal cavity or throat has blocked the passage of 

     air, making it impossible to breathe. Usually an emergency procedure.

     transfaunation: administration of beneficial bateria to a horse suspected 

     of intestinal disease due, at least in part, by disruption of the normal 

     bacterial population in the gut.


      trot: a gait in which the legs on the same side of the horse's body work 

      in opposition; often described as the same motion a child makes when 

      crawling on the floor.


      tubing: inserting a nasogastric tube through a horse’s nostril and into 

      its stomach for the purpose of providing oral medication.


      twitch: a restraining device usually consisting of a stick with a loop of 

      rope or chain at one end, which is placed around a horse’s upper lip and 

      twisted. It causes a release of endorphins that relax a horse and curb its 

      fractiousness while it is being handled.


      tying up (acute rhabdomyolsis): a form of muscle cramps that ranges in 

      severity from mild stiffness to a life-threatening disease. A generalized 

      condition of muscle fiber breakdown usually associated with exercise. The 

      cause of the muscle fiber breakdown is uncertain. Signs include sweating, 

      reluctance to move, stiffness, and general distress.

ulcer: irritation in the lining of the horse’s stomach or intestine.


      ultrasound: 1) a technique which uses ultrasonic waves to image internal 

      structures such as soft tissues (tendons or ligaments).


      untried: 1) not raced or tested for speed. 2) a stallion that has not been 



      unwind: gradually withdraw a horse from intensive training. Let down.


      upward fixation of the patella: locking of the hind limb in an extended, 

      stretched-out position due to the medial patellar ligament (which holds 

      the kneecap in place) getting hung on a notch at the end of the thigh bone 

      (femur). In affected horses, the locking occurs suddenly and without 

      warning. Intial treatment may include anti-inflammatory medication on the 

      assumption that the ligament and/or adjacent tissues are inflamed and 

      swollen. Muscle-building exercise such as hill work is often recommended 

      to improve strength, and dietary adjustment is used if necessary to 

      improve body condition. If these measures fail, stifle injections can be 

      considered or surgery.


      uveitis: inflammation and/or infection of the uvea, the colored iris of 

      the horse's eye. Signs may include constricted pupil, watery eye, 

      squinting and rubbing. If allowed to progress, uveitis can lead to 

      breakdown of the eye's internal structures, detachment of the retina and 

      blindness. Treatment includes frequent application of pupil-dilating 

      ophthalmic medications as well as anti-inflammatory preparations such as 

      dexamethasone or prednisone on the eye and/or systemically, systemic 

      administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and detection 

      and treatment of the underlying problem, if possible.

vasculitis: inflammation of small blood vessels and capillaries which, 

      because of damage to their walls, leak serum into the tissues and cause 

      swelling, most often in the horse's lower legs. Treatment is generally 

      aimed at cooling and soothing the swollen legs with gentle cold-water 

      irrigation, and supporting the skin with padded compression bandaging to 

      prevent splitting of the skin. If the skin has already split, the affected 

      area usually is treated as a laceration.


      VEE (Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis): a highly contagious disease 

      affecting the central nervous system. Can cause illness or death in horses 

      and humans. 


      ventral: down; toward the belly or lower part of the body.


      Vesicular Stomatitis: an acute viral disease that affects horses, cattle, 

      swine, sheep, goats and wild animals. Humans who come in contact with 

      fluids from infected animals’ blisters may also be affected. Human 

      symptoms resemble the flu, including fever and muscle aches, and 

      self-limiting blisters may appear on the hands and in the mouth. In 

      animals, the first sign of VS is excessive salivation, followed by a fever 

      and the appearance of blisters and/or whitened and raised vesicles in and 

      around the mouth, nose, hooves and teats.


      veterinarian: 1) Head of Veterinary Commission; 2) Veterinary Delegate; 3) 

      Associate Veterinarian.


      vocal folds: the membranes attached to the arytenoids cartilages in the 

      larynx. Vibration produces vocalization, i.e., whinny.

  warmblood: genetic term used to describe distinct breeds usually named 

      according to the region in which the breed was developed (e.g., Dutch 

      Warmbloods from The Netherlands). Generally large, well-muscled horses 

      with calm temperaments, making them suitable for dressage and show 



      washed out: a horse that becomes so nervous that it sweats profusely. Also 

      known as "washy" or "lathered up."


      wave mouth: undulating surface of the grinder teeth due to uneven wear.


     WBC: White Blood Cell Count.


      weanling: a foal less than one year old that has been separated from its 



     WEE: Western Equine Encephalomyelitis.


      white line: when looking at the sole of the foot, the thin area between 

      the insensitive outer hoof wall (insensitive laminae) and inner sensitive 



     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.


     wind gall: see arthritis. accumulation of synovial fluid in the fetlock 

     joint or windgall in the tendon sheath of the digital flexor tendons just 

     above the fetlock joint.


     wind puff: see wind gall.


     windpuffs: synovial effusion, with or without involvement of the adjacent 

     tendon sheath, in the fetlock joint. This causes puffiness of the joint 

     that might extend partway up the horse's cannon bone. Windpuffs may or may 

     not be associated with lameness. Causes can include excessive stress on 

     joint soft tissues and tendons due to poor conformation, poorly balanced 

     farriery, heavy training and/or sudden stall confinement after a period of 

     regular training. Treatment generally focuses on identifying and 

     correcting the underlying cause, rest, ice and pressure wraps to limit 

     inflammation and sweeling.


     withers: 1) area above the shoulder where the neck meets the back. 2) the 

     horse’s height is measured at the highest point of the withers.


     wobbler syndrome: 1) neurological disease associated with general 

     incoordination and muscle weakness. 2) can be caused by injury to spinal 

     cord in area of cervical (neck) vertebrae or is associated with 

     malformation of the cervical vertebrae.


     wolf teeth: the first premolars, located toward the back of the space 

     between the horse's front teeth and the grinders. When present on the 

     lower jaw, wolf teeth are small and needle-like. When the presence, 

     position and/or size of wolf teeth interfere with acceptance of the bit, 

     the teeth are removed, usually with the horse awake and sedated.

  xeroradiography: a costly type of x-ray procedure using specially 

  sensitized screens that give higher resolution on the edges of bone and 

  better visualization of soft tissue structures.

yearling: a horse in its second calendar year of life.

 Zantac™: trade name for drug ranitidine, medication used to treat stomach 


There are a number of terms specific to equine veterinary care and the horse industry that are helpful to know when talking with your veterinarian or researching a health topic. 

Click on a letter above to jump to the terms in that section.