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A diagram showing the flow of energy in a "through" horse Wellenbewegung-pferd.jpg
A diagram showing the flow of energy in a "through" horse

In equestrianism, throughness is an absence of resistance in the horse to the rider's commands.

A 'through' horse is perfectly submissive, allowing the rider's aids to go freely through the animal, with the reins influencing the forehand, and the riders' seat and legs influencing the hindquarters. When completely through, the horse is soft and elastic, with a connection from back to front, balanced and relaxed. It is supple and attentive to the rider's aids, and will willingly respond at the slightest touch, not only to the driving aids, but also to the restraining aids. [1]

Throughness is often compared to a circuit of energy between horse and rider: the rider's leg aids encourage energetic movement in the hindquarters, which push the back upward, which in turn allows for connection with the front end and the bit, and the connection felt in the bit transmits a feeling of energetic movement back to the rider's hands. [1] Of course, this is a question of "feel", meaning a very soft reaction in the rider's hands. If a rider gives driving aids and the horse responds by putting a lot of weight into the rider's hands, the horse is not "through" at all, but unbalanced and dependent on the hands of the rider to keep itself in balance.

Throughness is most important in dressage riding, essential for impulsion, but a through horse can make riding easier in all equestrian disciplines.

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Reining Type of western horse riding competition

Reining is a western riding competition for horses where the riders guide the horses through a precise pattern of circles, spins, and stops. All work is done at the lope, or the gallop. Originating from working cattle, reining is often described as a Western form of dressage riding, as it requires the horse to be responsive and in tune with its rider, whose aids should not be easily seen, and judges the horse on its ability to perform a set pattern of movements. The horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance and dictated to completely. A horse that pins his ears, conveying a threat to his rider, refuses to go forward, runs sideways, bounces his rear, wrings his tail in irritation or displays an overall poor attitude is not being guided willingly, and is judged accordingly.

Equitation art or practice of horse riding or horsemanship

Equitation is the art or practice of horse riding or horsemanship.

Trot gait of a horse

The trot is a two-beat diagonal gait of the horse where the diagonal pairs of legs move forward at the same time with a moment of suspension between each beat. It has a wide variation in possible speeds, but averages about 13 kilometres per hour (8.1 mph). A very slow trot is sometimes referred to as a jog. An extremely fast trot has no special name, but in harness racing, the trot of a Standardbred is faster than the gallop of the average non-racehorse, and has been clocked at over 30 miles per hour (48 km/h).

Canter and gallop Equine gait

The canter and gallop are variations on the fastest gait that can be performed by a horse or other equine. The canter is a controlled, three-beat gait, while the gallop is a faster, four-beat variation of the same gait. It is a natural gait possessed by all horses, faster than most horses' trot, or ambling gaits. The gallop is the fastest gait of the horse, averaging about 40 to 48 kilometres per hour. The speed of the canter varies between 16 and 27 kilometres per hour depending on the length of the horse's stride. A variation of the canter, seen in western riding, is called a lope, and is generally quite slow, no more than 13–19 kilometres per hour (8–12 mph).

Airs above the ground series of classical dressage movements in which the horse leaves the ground

The airs above the ground or school jumps are a series of higher-level, Haute ecole, classical dressage movements in which the horse leaves the ground. They include the capriole, the courbette, the mezair, the croupade and the levade. None are typically seen in modern competitive dressage. They are performed by horses of various riding academies such as the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and the Cadre Noir in Saumur, and may be seen in other dressage performances. The levade and courbette are a particular feature of the Doma Menorquina, the riding tradition of the island of Menorca. Horses such as the Andalusian, Lusitano, Lipizzan and Menorquín are the breeds most often trained to perform the airs today, in part due to their powerfully conformed hindquarters, which allow them the strength to perform these difficult movements. There were originally seven airs, many of which were used to build into the movements performed today.

Longeing A technique for training horses, where a horse is asked to work at the end of a lunge line.

Longeing or lungeing is exercising and/or training young or experienced horses on a rein approximately 23 feet long. It is an excellent way of introducing young horses to regular work and teaching them the trust and respect which is the foundation of the relationship with the trainer. It can also be used to good effect to build strength in ridden horses or for rehabilitation after illness or injury. The horse is asked to work on a circle at one end of a longe line, or rein, by a trainer on the ground who guides the horse's movements using rein, whip and voice commands. Longeing is also a critical component of the sport of equestrian vaulting.

Equine conformation evaluation of the degree of correctness of a horses bone and muscle structure

Equine conformation evaluates the degree of correctness of a horse's bone structure, musculature, and its body proportions in relation to each other. Undesirable conformation can limit the ability to perform a specific task. Although there are several faults with universal disadvantages, a horse's conformation is usually judged by what its intended use may be. Thus "form to function" is one of the first set of traits considered in judging conformation. A horse with poor form for a Grand Prix show jumper could have excellent conformation for a World Champion cutting horse, or to be a champion draft horse. Every horse has good and bad points of its conformation and many horses excel even with conformation faults.

Double bridle A bridle that has two bits and four reins

A double bridle, also called a full bridle or Weymouth bridle, is a bridle that has two bits and four reins. One bit is the bradoon, is a modified snaffle bit that is smaller in diameter and has smaller bit rings than a traditional snaffle, and it is adjusted so that it sits above and behind the other bit, a curb bit. Another term for this combination of curb and snaffle bit is a "bit and bradoon", where the word "bit" in this particular context refers to the curb.

Saddle seat

Saddle Seat is a style of horseback riding within the category of English riding that is designed to show off the high action of certain horse breeds. The style developed into its modern form in the United States, and is also seen in Canada and South Africa. To a much lesser extent, it is ridden with American action horse breeds in Europe and Australia. The horse breeds mainly used for this flashy style are typically the showy Morgan Horse, and the high stepping American Saddlebred.

The rein-back is a dressage term to indicate the two-beat movement in which a horse is asked to back up. The horse picks up and sets down its feet almost in diagonal pairs, and moves straight backwards with the line of his forelegs following those of his hind. The horse should remain on the aids during the rein-back.

Turn on the forehand is a lateral movement in equestrian schooling that involves moving the horse's hindquarters around his front legs. Although a basic movement, it is an important training tool for both horse and rider.

Rearing (horse)

Rearing occurs when a horse or other equine "stands up" on its hind legs with the forelegs off the ground. Rearing may be linked to fright, aggression, excitement, disobedience, or pain. It is not uncommon to see stallions rearing in the wild when they fight, while striking at their opponent with their front legs. Mares are generally more likely to kick when acting in aggression, but may rear if they need to strike at a threat in front of them.

Riding aids equestrian sport

Riding aids are the cues a rider gives to a horse to communicate what they want the animal to do. Riding aids are broken into the natural aids and the artificial aids.

Lateral movements or lateral flexions within equestrianism, have a specific meaning, used to refer to movements made by a horse where the animal is moving in a direction other than straight forward. They are used both in training and in competition, vary in difficulty, and are used in a progressive manner, according to the training and physical limitations of the animal.


Impulsion is the movement of a horse when it is going forward with controlled power. Related to the concept of collection, impulsion helps a horse effectively use the power in its hindquarters. To achieve impulsion, a horse is not using speed, but muscular control; the horse exhibits a relaxed spinal column, which allows its hindquarters to come well under its body and "engage" so that they can be used in the most effective manner to move the horse forward at any speed.

The turn of the haunches is a lateral movement performed at the halt and walk, used in horse training. It requires the horse, while bent in the direction of the turn, to move his forehand around his hindquarters so that he makes a very small circle with the inside foreleg. The horse should pivot around a hindleg, as seen in the spin. Additionally, the horse should continue to display basic requirements of dressage, such as an even and regular rhythm, relaxation, acceptance of the aids, balance, and freedom of movement.

The shoulder-in is a lateral movement in dressage used to supple and balance the horse and encourage use of its hindquarters. It is performed on three tracks, where the horse is bent around the rider's inside leg so that the horse's inside hind leg and outside foreleg travel on the same line. For some authors it is a "key lesson" of dressage, performed on a daily basis.

On the bit

The phrases "on the bit", "behind the bit" and "above the bit" are equestrian terms used to describe a horse's posture relative to the reins and the bridle bit. A position on the bit is submissive to the rider's rein aids, given through the bit. When a horse is behind the bit, the head is tucked too far down and rearward. If above the bit, then the head is too high.

The half-halt is a specific riding aid given by an equestrian to his horse, in which the driving aids and restraining aids are applied in quick succession. It is sometimes thought of as an "almost halt," asking the horse to prepare to halt in balance, before pushing it onward to continue in its gait.


  1. 1 2 United States Dressage Federation, USDF Glossary of Judging Terms (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-02-14, retrieved 2009-06-12