I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means: Equestrian Edition

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” There are a lot of those words in the equestrian world. Here are just a few that people love to misuse.

Perhaps one of the most quoted lines from The Princess Bride — and there are many, so that’s saying something — is Iñigo Montoya‘s response to Vizzini’s overuse of the word “inconceivable.”

Even if it’s not the most used quote, it’s one I find myself repeating often — sometimes to myself, sometimes aloud (it all depends how salty I’m feeling in the moment). In the equestrian world, I find myself thinking this A LOT. There are a ton of terms that equestrians — or wannabe “equestrians” — use on a regular basis that don’t quite mean what they think it means.

Here’s our list:

Dead Broke — this is one of those terms that I never quite understand when people use it. Generally, you won’t hear it from a hugely knowledgeable horse person. Not to paint myself as hugely knowledgeable, but to me a very broke horse is one you absolutely would NOT put an amateur or beginner on due to the number of buttons the horse has. Sure, it may be broke enough not to be an idiot, but when your friend down the road squeezes, that means something to the horse. Perhaps when people use the term “dead broke” they actually mean “dead head?” I feel like they’re referring to a horse that won’t react to anything, really. You want to kick old Patches over there? Go right ahead. Pull on his mouth? Sure. Do a cartwheel behind him and backflip off his butt? Go right ahead. But you probably also can’t control his shoulders or get him to bend. Patches may serve a purpose, but he sure ain’t “dead broke.”

In Your Pocket — this is another one of those terms that people use to describe a horse that, in theory, loves attention and follows you around. However, in practice, it usually a means a horse that has no concept of your personal space and will run you over as soon as look at you.

Out Of — “Oh, this filly is out of Metallic Cat.” Oh, no she isn’t. Colt’s can’t be out of a stallion, they can be by a stallion. This may seem knit-picky on my part, but it’s just one of those things. And if you can’t remember it, think about it this way. A colt literally comes OUT OF a mare.

Okay, not a horse. But you get the idea.

Stand Up — this is usually yelled at a horse that is , quite literally, already standing up and just fidgeting in the cross ties or at the wall. Your horse isn’t laying down. He’s being impatient. Leave him there until he isn’t.

Dream Horse — this one is usually used in reference to someone else’s run-on-run bred colt whose sire had an SI of over 98 and uttered by someone who can’t manage to ride their backyard Halflinger more than once a month. Like, no, we don’t think your dream is to be yard-darted (yes, it’s a verb) across the arena.

On the Muscle — I’m not sure what this is actually supposed to mean. Perhaps it means a horse is forward, chomping at the bit, or antsy, but usually when someone says a horse is “on the muscle,” what the horse really is is freaking out of control.

Hard Mouthed — this is another one used as somewhat of a static descriptor of a horse, like it’s something that is independent of the rider. Meanwhile, the rider is usually jerking on the horse’s mouth. Like…. a lot. No wonder poor Flicka is “hard mouthed.” I would be too if you kept yanking on my face.

Cold Backed — this is one of those terms that is used to describe all manner of sins under saddle, but usually means bucking, crow hopping, or other signs of pain. In my experience, most horses are not “cold backed.” They have underlying issues that lead to poor behavior.

It’s Because He’s a ____ — okay, this one is an entire sentence, but unless the person is filling in the blank with “uneducated buffoon,” chances are the person saying it does know what they’re saying. Usually the blank in this sentence is filled in with a certain breed. Thoroughbred. Arabian. Morgan. Take your pick. However, pretty often, the horse is not behaving a certain way because of his breed. More accurately, his behavior is due to his lack of education.

What words or phrases do you see people in the horse world using incorrectly? Let us know in the Facebook comments!

As always, thank you to my friends over at The Western Thoroughbred for the inspiration and their never-ending and endlessly entertaining banter. Feel free to give them a follow on their Facebook or Instagram pages!