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Funny Phrases Equestrians say that “Normal” People Don’t Understand

Equestrians have a language of their own terms, phrases, and concepts. The regular communication between exhibitors exists through words such as “green,” “broke,” “lame”…the list goes on and on.

To non-horse people, these phrases are quite perplexing and make no sense. Why would someone call their horse lame? How can a horse be the color green? By classes, do you mean the horse goes to school? Without the prior knowledge of the horse world, many are left astray when entering equine-related conversations.

Equestrians are indeed a breed of their own. The best way to identify a fellow horse person is through their use of this dialect. The equine industry is small, yet the language is complex. Here are some common phrases exhibitor say that go misunderstood by the rest of society.

“I ride a green horse.”

Do you also ride a purple horse? How about a pink one? Do you paint your horse green? Non-horse people do not know the word “green” is used to mean inexperienced in this statement. The common phrase can be taken out of context quite easily.

“You have to have more contact.”

You cannot Facebook message, text, or call your horse, therefore what do you mean by contact? If you listen to a lesson, the trainer often says the rider needs more or less contact. This indicates how much rein a rider has in connection with their horse.

Non-equestrians find this phrase odd and somewhat humorous. All dedicated equestrians wish they could Facebook message or call their horse to have more “contact.”

“My horse is 17 hands.”

Hands as in people hands? This one always leaves non-horse people scratching their heads. The way equestrians talk about a horse’s height is odd.

How can a horse be measured by hands? You can thank ancient Mediterranean cultures for the strange way equestrians measure their horse.

“My horse is lame.”

Don’t you love your horse? Why would you think that he is not cool? The truth is, equestrians do not think their horse is “lame.”

This term means the horse is moving in a manner which indicates pain. To non-horse people, obsessed equestrians calling their horse lame does not make much sense, especially when every waking moment is spent fawning over the horse’s needs.

“Is your show horse broke?”

Broken in half? Your horse does not have any money? The word “broke” has a couple different meanings in the English language.

Exhibitors know the equine-world definition; a horse who has the training and is often seasoned in the show pen. To the outside world, talking about broke horses may seem strange and even a little twisted. The next time you get a funny look when talking about your “broke” horse in public, you may understand why.

“Use your legs and put your heels down.”

Aren’t you always using your legs, even to walk? How do you put your heels “down”? This one makes zero sense to people who know nothing about riding. Some equestrians do not understand the meaning behind “using your legs.”

Heels down also perplex the everyday individual. How can heels go down? Exhibitors, when in doubt, add more leg and shove your heel down.

“Did you longe your horse?”

Aren’t lunges part of a workout? Well, kind of… for the horse. Longing refers to horses running around in large circles until they are too tired to buck, run, or be naughty. Equestrian lingo is strange if you are not a part of the horse realm.

“How many classes do you have?”

Exhibitors may ask casually, “How many classes do you have?” Non-equestrians may misinterpret this as academic courses. Horse people understand that classes refer to shows. After all, horse showing is more important than academic classes, right? Just don’t tell your parents that answer.

“Keep your hands soft; do not bump your horse’s face.”

Are your hands hard? Why would you bump your horse’s face? Another saying spoken by countless trainers throughout the world. Soft hands and “bumping” are key concepts when riding horses. 
Do not be too rough on your horse’s face by pulling the reins. Non-equestrians do not understand the concept of being “soft.” Unfortunately, some equestrians don’t either.

“How was Your Go or Run?”

This is often heard and asked right after someone finishes their pattern, railwork, or course. A fellow exhibitor may come up to you and ask, “How was your go?” or “Did you have a good run?” Not sure where either of these originated except they both involve going forward. However, it doesn’t normally mean run unless it’s a timed event like barrels or poles, and “Go” doesn’t really make sense because we are making a verb a noun.


Equestrians have their own language, and you must be a part of this unique family to understand all the everyday lingo that is said on the show circuit. Do you have a funny phrase that is heard in equestrian circles that we left out? Let us know.

About the Author: Cat Guenther is a devout equestrian and a senior at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She has been riding horses for almost nine years and has loved every minute of it. Cat started and runs her successful show clothing business, Behind the Bit Show Clothing. Her favorite classes are horsemanship, showmanship, and trail. She plans to attend Michigan State University in the future to study veterinary medicine and possibly also business. Cat is excited to show the all-around classes in 2019 with Zippos Kat Man Do aka Teddy.