Equine... Just Horsin' Around


  • Horse Racing
    A competition for horses ridden by jockeys within a given area and over a prescribed distance, under the control of appointed officials. Thoroughbreds are the most popular horse breed in the racing industry, but other breeds also race on Texas racetracks such as: Quarter Horses, Paint Horses, Arabians, and Appaloosas. There are currently 5 racetracks in Texas and over 950,000 industry participants.
  • Therapeutic Riding
    An equine-assisted activity that improves balance, joint mobility, coordination, muscle tone and posture, and it can ease symptoms of a wide variety of disabilities including brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, hearing or visual impairments, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, Down syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.  Plus, it's great for helping students improve motor skills, self-esteem, concentration and problem-solving abilities.
  • Ranching
    Cattle have been raised and herded in Texas by men on horseback since the Spanish conquistadors introduced cows and horses to the area around 1541. Today they are still used on ranches to gather and work cattle, check fences, and various other labor intensive jobs. A good ranch horse must be versatile and perform activities such as herding, cutting, roping, and reining. They should have keen cow sense, high endurance, and a gentle disposition. Most of the competitive sports performed on horseback today are based on activities that are performed on a working ranch.
  • Recreational Riding
    A popular pastime that strengthens your body and mind while exploring the great outdoors on the back of your horse. Almost 4 million horses are used for recreation – more than any other use. Trail riding is an ever growing industry with many of our state and federal parks, forests, and wilderness areas becoming available to be explored on the back of a horse for a unique adventure. It has also become a potential income for landowners who may want to diversify their ranching operation by allowing trail riders to come in and ride and experience the country.


  • Cutting Horse Competition
    The cutting horse has always been and will continue to be a ranch necessity with the objective being to separate a particular cow from the herd. In competition the objective is the same except for the rider and horse are being judged on the agility and athleticism of the horse and how well they demonstrate their ability to control the cow, maintaining proper position with the cow, and keeping it from getting back to the herd. Once the cow is cut from the herd the reins are no longer used and the horse is guided only from the rider's leg pressure. Horses move from side to side, swinging both front feet from the left side to the right side, never moving their hind legs at times.
  • Horse Show Competition
    Probably the most common competitive riding activity because there is something for every rider, from beginner to the advanced. Horse Shows have a variety of classes such as Western which can include pleasure, horsemanship, trail, reining, cutting, working cowhorse, versatility, and various speed events. English classes can include hunter, equitation, jumping, pleasure driving, and dressage to name a few. Also there are halter and equestrians with disabilities classes. The rider usually has a predetermined pattern of maneuvers with emphasis placed on ability to ride with quality and precise control of the horse. The horse is usually evaluated on his conformation, balance, structural correctness, and degree of muscling. The horse should be guided with little or no resistance.

Rodeo Events

Rodeo events consist of two types of competition – roughstock events and timed events. In roughstock events the contestant's score is equally dependent upon his performance and the horse's performance during an 8 second ride. A perfect score is 100 points. In timed events contestants compete against the clock, as well as against each other.

  • Barrel Racing – a timed event to the hundredth of a second, the horse is ridden as fast as possible around a cloverleaf pattern of three barrels without knocking a barrel over, which is a five-second penalty. A proven barrel racing horse can cost $50,000 to $100,000.
  • Steer Wrestling – A timed event with the world record sitting at 2.4 seconds, steer wrestling is the quickest event in rodeo. The contestant, also known as a "bulldogger" rides alongside a running steer, leans over onto the steer and off his horse at about 30 mph, and attempts to stop the steer, twist it to the ground, with the steer ending up on his side with all feet facing the same direction.
  • Team Roping – A timed event that requires close cooperation and timing between two skilled ropers, a header and a heeler, and their horses. When the steer is released from the chute the header ropes the steer – around both horns, around the horn and the head, or around the neck. After the header makes his catch, the heeler then attempts to rope both hind legs. If he catches only one foot the team is assessed five-second penalty. The clock is stopped when there is no slack in their ropes and their horses are facing each other.
  • Tie-Down Roping – A timed event, where a calf is released with a head start and the cowboy pursues the calf on horseback. The horse is trained to stop as soon as the cowboy ropes the calf. At that point the cowboy dismounts, sprints to the calf, and throws it by hand on its side, called flanking it. The roper then ties any three legs together with a pigging string – a short, looped rope. When the roper is finished he throws his hands in the air as a signal to stop the clock. The roper then remounts his horse, rides forward to create slack in the rope and waits six seconds to see if the calf remains tied. If the calf kicks free, the roper receives no time.
  • Saddle Bronc Riding – A roughstock event where the rider has to use a regulation saddle, one rein attached to a halter, and is not allowed to touch the saddle, the horse, or himself with his free hand. Throughout the 8-second ride the judges score the horse's bucking action, the cowboy's control of the horse, and the cowboy's spurring action.
  • Bareback Riding – A roughstock event consisting of riding a bucking bronc bareback for 8 seconds using only a rigging made of leather with a handle and a strap that is placed atop the horse's withers and secured with a cinch to stay aboard. A bareback rider is judged on his spurring technique, the degree to which his toes remain turned out while he is spurring and his willingness to take whatever might come during his ride.

Did you know...

  • You can tell how old a horse is by his teeth.
  • The adult horse has 36 teeth: 12 incisors and 24 molars.
  • Horses spend 85 to 90 percent of their lives on their feet.
  • A 1,000-pound mare produces four gallons of milk daily for her foal.
  • Horses have small stomachs for their size and need to eat little and often – if in a field, horses will graze for most of the day.
  • There is $13 billion invested in barns, towing vehicles, trailers, and other related horse equipment, and about $2.1 billion is spent annually maintaining horses.
  • A new born foal can stand up within an hour of being born and can keep up with the herd within 24 hours.
  • The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) serves a membership of 4,000 individuals and over 670 programs around the country. There are about 5,000 screened and trained horses involved in NARHA therapeutic riding programs.

Horse Terminology

  • Sir – a horse's father.
  • Dam – a horse's mother.
  • Foal – a horse, either male or female, that is under one year old.
  • Colt – a male horse under four years old.
  • Filly – a female horse under four years old.
  • Mare – a female horse four years or older.
  • Stallion – a male horse four years or older.
  • Gelding – a castrated male horse (cannot reproduce).
  • In Foal – a pregnant mare.
  • Gestation – the period between conception and foaling, normally about 11 months
  • Weanling – a foal being weaned and until he becomes a yearling on January 1 of the year following birth.
  • Yearling – a horse's age following January 1 of the year after foaling.
  • Pedigree – a register recording a line of ancestors.
  • Hand – a unit of measure equal to four inches used especially for the height of horses.
  • Withers – the ridge between the shoulder bones of a horse which usually holds the saddle in position. Also used as the highest point when measuring height.
  • Go-Round – a turn at an event during a preliminary round of competition used to select finalists.
  • Short-go – a turn at an event in the championship or finalist round.
  • Cowboy – a man who herds and tends cattle on ranches, doing his work mainly on horseback.
  • Ferrier – a person who makes horseshoes and shoes horses.
  • Jockey – a person engaged to ride a horse in a horse race.
  • Green – a horse which is broken but no fully trained, an inexperienced horse.
  • Grooming – to clean the coat and feet of a horse.
  • Hoof – the insensitive horny covering which protects the sensitive parts of a horse's foot. A term used to describe the entire foot.
  • Mane – the long hair growing on the top of a horse's head and down the neck.
  • Mustang – a wild horse.
  • Sound – said of a horse which is free from any illness, disease, blemish, physical defect or imperfection which might impair in any way its usefulness or ability to work.
  • Stable – a building in which one or more horses are kept.
  • Tack – the saddle, bridle, bit, reins, and other items used on a horse which is to be ridden.
  • Lariat – a long, light rope used to catch livestock.
  • Bridle – headgear used on a horse to give the rider control through use of the reins.
  • Stirrups – footholds attached to the saddle that help the rider mount and provide support during riding.
  • Bit – a mouthpiece attached to the bridle used to help control the pace and direction of the horse. It is manipulated by the use of the reins.
  • Girth – a band, usually of leather, webbing, or nylon, passed under the belly of the horse to hold the saddle in place.
  • Halter – a headpiece with a lead rope attached, used for leading a horse when not wearing a bridle, or for tying up the horse.
  • Horseshoe – a shaped metal band nailed to the base of horses hoofs to protect them and prevent them from splitting.
  • Reins – a pair of long narrow straps attached to the bit or bridle and used by the rider or driver to guide and control his horse.
  • Saddle – a seat for a rider on horseback, made in various designs according to the purpose for which it is required.
  • Hobble – leather straps wrapped around a horse's front legs to keep it front straying.
  • Latigo – a leather strip.
  • Gait – however fast or slow the horse is going. The four natural paces for the horse are the walk, trot, canter and gallop.
  • Herd – horses all in one bunch

Did You Know?

Horses spend 85 to 90 percent of their lives on their feet.