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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
"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,
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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): a
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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)
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