Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Strange Horse Words

There is a horse word that I find strange and exotic: "ergot". Not to be confused with the ergot that is a fungus of rye and can cause poisoning and was likely a cause of St. Anthony's Fire - all of that is very interesting too, but not about horses. The words are related, though, and are derived from the Old French word for a rooster's spur - which makes obvious sense in the case of horses due to the location but apparently is due to the shape of the fungus fruiting body on the rye plant.

I don't even think I knew what an ergot was until I got Lily. Lily is very heavily built, and there must have been some draft back in her Oldenburg side, because she has quite a bit of feather on her legs, especially in the winter. And she also grew very large ergots - every time the farrier came he had to clip off an inch or more of ergot on each fetlock. She also grew very large chestnuts, which also required frequent trimming. None of my others - Maisie - who gets a little bit of feather, just some curls around her fetlocks - and Dawn and Noble who haven't the slightest bit of feather - grow any ergots to speak of, and their chesnuts are also very small. Norman has feather as well - in curls running down the backs of his legs - but not much in the way of ergots.

Do you have any favorite strange or beautiful horse words?


  1. So that's how one gets rid of ergots... I was wondering. Izzy has them.

    I like saying "gaskin" to non-horse people, because they have no idea what it is.

  2. Ergot...you are right, weird word. I didnt know that you could trim them! But I've never had a horse with long ones either. I cant stand looking at a horse with over grown chestnuts, it makes my hands itch wanting to pick at them.

    Funny, we were just talking about the word gymkhana the other day because DB used to think it was a guy's name (Jim Canna).

    Croup is a weird word.

  3. Our current gang are low on ergots!
    I love this French word "encapuchonné" meaning the horse is very behind the vertical, nose on chest...it's a nice word to describe a bad thing!
    Gymkhana, oh yes happy childhood memories.

  4. I love the french-y feel of saying "dressage", and riding "renvers" and "travers". So much more elegant sounding than saying haunches in or out. (Then I have to pause and translate in my head: renvers=reverse=butt out).

    "schwung" is another good one, fun to say and feel.

  5. The people who ride English probably have a much more beautiful vocab than we westerners. There are a few words though that I've noticed throw people--like pinto versus Paint--one being a color and one being a breed. Also the spelling of farrier versus ferrier--I've seen it spelled both ways.

  6. stilllearning mentioned one of my favorites - schwung. There isn't an english word that works as well as schwung for what it is describing!

  7. Oh, I thought those things were also called chestnuts. Panama has baby pea-sized ones -- they don't seem to grow much, but like his chestnuts, I'll pick the top layers off if they get too long.

    I've also noticed what Linda commented on -- farrier versus ferrier. The correct spelling is farrier, according to the dictionary. There's also lunging vs. longeing -- I haven't figured out the correct spelling here, since even published books spell it either way.

  8. Katharine Swann said **farrier versus ferrier** that's interesting Katharine because here in France the farrier is the maréchal ferrant,ferrant from the word fer meaning originally iron but also now horse shoe. Aren't words great.

  9. can i give you my least favorite german horse related word?


    it means mold. blue cheese is called schimmel cheese.

    and it is the word used ---why??-- for grey horses. perhaps because they change shades of grey as they age?

    whatever, i hate it when people call my horse "that schimmel" (usually with the word "little" thrown in).

    the word doesn't sound ugly, but it represents something rotting to me.

    sorry, i can't think of any cool words right now! besides schwung, which i had no idea it had made the move into the english language.

    good topic though!



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