This is a thinly disguised diary designed, quite frankly, to allow me to post some gorgeous pics of what I hold to be the most gorgeous animal...the Horse. But having said that, you can learn some vocabulary here, if you stick around. Like many of you, I consider myself to be a City Slicker. I was born in a small rural town, but mostly grew up in Gotham. I have some experience with horses...one of my uncles kept 3 or 4 horses for several decades, and when I was young I went to many, many a horse show with my cousin and he throughout Southeastern Ohio and into parts of bordering West Virginia.
I can still conjure up the smells associated with horses, and their stables.
But I was never a real "Horse Person." And I'm guessing you never were either. And if you were, and still are, this diary might still please.
Growing up on Westerns, I can remember lines in some movies where John Wayne would be pursuing a bad guy, and would question some farmer in his single minded pursuit:
"I'm looking for a man...maybe you've seen him pass by here. He rides a paint horse and walks with a limp."
It sounded so authentic, and it might just as easily been a "Bay Horse", or a "Sorrel."
I never knew what a Bay, or a Sorrel or a Paint was.
I do now, and if you follow me below the fold, so will you.
I don't think of horses as being "cute." They aren't pooties or woozles. They are grand, noble, stately creatures. They are muscular, sleek, intelligent, loyal, athletic...they exist in the wild, and they have been domesticated for centuries. They are, quite literally, workhorses, and race horses. They entertain, they inspire awe, they toil, and sometimes they just live mostly just outside our sight, in an increasingly shrinking Western landscape.
So I thought you might like a sort of glossary of terms for horses, for the next time you watch an old Western, or go to the Race Track with someone more knowledgeable than you, or find yourself in the company of hoity toity Horse People who throw around insider jargon as a way of showing off their insider credentials and isolating the City Slicker wannabes.
Here is my guide to Horses...not their breeds, so much as their colorations.
Bays are probably one of the most common, but still my personal favorite horses. They can have a variety of colors in the brown range, from a rich copper to chestnut to dark mohagany, but they all have this in common: Their "points" are all black. A horse's points are the tips of the ears, the mane, the tail and the lower legs.
If you'll notice the picture above, you'll see a white spot on the horse's forehead. That's called a "star." There are other facial features that I'll find a chance to highlight as we go forward.
If you are a casual better on the horses, and find yourself at a future Kentucky Derby, and find yourself inclined to bet on the "prettiest horse", take my advice: Bet on the Bay, because a Bay has won 60 out of the last 121 races. Chestnuts have won the second most, at 39.
Chestnuts often have similar body coloring as Bays, except for the points. They lack the trait for black points, so their manes, tails and legs are brown instead of black. They do quite often, however, have a bit of white at the feet, as in this picture.
Chestnuts and Sorrels are, for all practical purposes, interchangeable terms for the same coloration. They both refer to light to darker reddish brown horses with light manes, and their use seems to depend upon where the speaker comes from, not the horse itself. Note the white marking along the front of the head...this is called a "blaze", as it is fairly broad. I'll show you a stripe a little later.
Duns are another gorgeous coloration. The classic Dun is light colored, from grey to tan to gold with dark points and a dark stripe along the backbone. They sometimes will also have stripes, or bars, on a portion of their hind legs. This is a recessive genetic trait that goes back to the horse's earliest ancestors. Duns are real beauties.
If you cab remember the TV show Bonanza, you probably remember the horse that Little Joe (Michael Landon) rode...Cochise. Cochise was a "Paint." Paints are sometimes called Pintos, but there is a subtle difference.
A true Paint horse is a breed unto itself, whereas a Pinto can be any breed, but both share the same distinctive bold solid patches of white and brown/chestnut/black. Paints and Pintos are not to be confused with other, more spotted horses, such as the Appaloosa, which is a breed, not a coloration.
Well, I can't mention Little Joe without mentioning Ben Cartwright's mount, "Buck." Buck (not a particularly original name) was a Buckskin horse. They are a light tan/tawny, with black points, similar to a bay. They are just a much lighter color than a classic Bay;
Roans are horses that are solid in color, but which have white hairs that are mixed in with the base coat, which gives the horse an overall lighter appearance. They can be brown or black, or various shades of those colors, but there will always be white hairs mixed in with the coat. Over the course of the horse's life, the coat does not change color...it stays the same, which partly differentiates it from the next color I will describe. Here is a good example of a Roan...
Grays are just that...Gray. But they can, and usually do, grower paler, or whiter, as they grow older. The underlying white hairs become more prominent and numerous as they age, and they quite literally become "gray." Also, and this distinguishes a "Gray" from the next, and last category..."Whites", Grays have black skin.
A White horse is a white horse...what else is there to say? Except that, unlike Grays, White horses have pink skin. And they aren't albinos...there is no albinism is horse.
That's about all I can think of, unless someone here can think of another one to add. They come in different colors, and each has its own name, but they are, all of them, exquisite animals.