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Action : suppleness, energy, willpower of a horse.

Age : "official" age of a horse on the card. Every horse has the same official birthday, January 1st.

Ambling gait : irregular trot. The feet on the same side of the horse move forward at the same time. This gait is prohibited in the races and leads to the disqualification of the horse.

Anglo-Arab : (horse) crossbred between English and Arabian thoroughbreds.

Apprentice Rider (Bug Rider) : A student jockey. The minimum age is 16. For gallop, an apprentice rider becomes a jockey after winning 70 times in flat racing and 35 times in hurdle racing. For trot racing, the apprentice has to win 35 times.

Aptitudes : There are various aptitudes: Aptitude to ground (good, soft, firm, heavy), to distance, to the track (right-handed or left-handed), to hurdles.

A.Q.P.S. ("Autre Que Pur-Sang") : Other than thoroughbred. This refers to the horses not listed as thoroughbreds but listed in a Stud-Book. They are hardy and less costly than thoroughbreds. They are well suited for steeplechase racing.

Aubin : irregular trot. The horse gallops with its forefoot and trots with its hind legs. This gait is prohibited in the races and leads to the disqualification of the horse.

Avoir du gaz : French expression used when a horse still has a lot of energy.




Balais : term used for hurdles, in French.

Banquette : slope used as an obstacle in steeplechase.

Bay : a horse that has a reddish brown coat.

Betting : odds of all the horses of the race.

Blinkers : leather device limiting the horse vision.

Bookmaker : the person who accepts the bets. The bookmakers are forbidden in France, but not in England.

Bottom-weight : in gallop races, the horse carrying the lowest weight.

Box stall : for a horse, stall in a stable.

Break : when a horse starts galloping and loose natural trotting pace.

Breeder : owner of a broodmare. The owner-breeder owns a stud farm and a racing stable where all or part of his yearlings go; the owner-seller sells the foals when they are yearlings.

Bridle : a part of the harness, which fits on the horse's head, used to guide the animal.

Broodmare : female horse used for breeding purposes.

Bullfinch : obstacle in cross-country races, made up of a solid base with twigs extending upward on top and surrounded by two little hedges




Canter : a slow gallop before the race. The canter is the last moment when the experienced gamblers can see the qualities of the horses they carefully observed (appearance, behavior) in the parade ring.

Chestnut : horse with a red-yellow to golden-yellow color.

Claim : a trainer or a jockey can make a claim, after a race, about the progress of the race, for unproven difficulty or irregularity. Then, an investigation is made by the stewards and announced through the speakers and the screens. According to the findings of the investigation, the final result can be changed or not, and the horse and jockey incriminated can be downgraded or disqualified beyond the tenth place, which means non-placed. The most common infraction involving a claim and an investigation comes from a horse that steps aside its line. The seriousness of the infraction is assesed thanks to the film of the race. For galloping and trotting races, the rules stipulate that, for security reasons, the horses are not allowed to step aside their line and cut the line of another horse if it is not at least two lenghts ahead of this horse.

Claiming race : race in which all the horses running can be purchased (auction sale) at the end of the race, at the "claiming price".

Clinders : scoria, solid waste from coal, used for some racecourses surfacing.

Coupled horses : when two horses, or more, in a race, are owned by the same owner.

Course : set distance for a race.

Cover : breeding of a stallion to a mare.

Cross-country : race that takes place on long and varied courses of more than 4000 metres, with various fences, including the most difficult ones. These races are very spectacular ; very strong horses in fine form are needed for this type of race.




D.A.I. : from the French "disqualifié pour allure irrégulière". Horse disqualified for breaking gait. This term is used in trotting races.

D.P.G. : (from the French "disqualifié pour avoir franchi le poteau d'arrivée au galop"). Horse disqualified for crossing the finish line galloping. (Term used in trotting races)

Dead-heat : when two or more horses cross the finish line at the exact same time.

Disqualified : a horse that is excluded of a race.

Distance : length each horse has to run in an event.

Downgraded : a horse that loose its place, after an inquiry or a claim.

Driver : the person who drives the sulky in harness racing.




Error (make an error) : gait of a trotter that breaks into a canter during the race.




Free-going : a horse that likes running forward and that performs a gait easily and effortlessly.

Fault : in jump racing, horse that trips on landing or that hits a fence.

Favorite : horse that is considered by the gamblers to have the best chance of winning the race.

Film : recording film that allows the stewards to follow the race; the races are filmed from beginning to end so that, in case an incident occurs, the stewards can see the film after the finish and decide in full knowledge of the facts.

Fit and well : used to describe a horse presenting very good physical conditions.

Flat racing : one of the three types of horse racing.

Foal : a male or female horse from birth until December 31st of the same year.

Forefoot : forefront part of the horse.

Front-runner : horse that is in the leading group during the race.




Gallop : gait of a horse. When the horse streches its forefoot ahead and its hind legs behind.

Garçon de voyage : person who accompanies the horse to the racecourses.

Gelding : male horse that has been castrated.

Gentleman rider : amateur rider authorized to participate in a race.

Gestation : period before the birth of a foal.

Girth : a big and flat leather and cloth band, holding the saddle.

Gray : coat with mixed dark and white hairs.

Ground : state of the track.

Group race : an elite race, for the most prestigious horses.




Half-bred : horse having only one thoroughbred parent, or a horse crossbred between two halfbreds.

Handicap Race : race in which the favoured runners are imposed some disadvantages. For gallop, each runner has a certain weight to run with; for trot, the favoured runners have to start off a distance handicap. The aim is to give every horse an opportunity to win.

Handicap : in trotting races, position from where a horse starts, according to the amount won by the competitors.

Handle : total amount of money wagered on a race.

Harness : the whole of pieces to equip a horse for the race.

High Weight : term used in galop races to indicate the highest weight carried in a race by a horse.

Hind legs : horse's hind legs.

Hoof : the foot of the horse.

Horse box : car used to move horses.

Horse breaking : process used with young horses to get them be ridden by the jockey and to obey his/her orders.

Horse certificate : ID card of a horse.

Hurdle : fence made of heath.

Hurdle-racer : a horse specialized in hurdle racing.

Hurdling (race) : jumping race which course is marked out by fences which height and depth are usually lower than one metre.

Harness (to) : to attach the sulky to a horse.




Inédit : (french) a horse that has never participated in a race.

Inquiry : made by the stewards to check that no irregularities have been made during the race. It is announced to the audience through the speekers and displayed on the screens.




Jockey : person whose job is to ride horses in races.

Juges aux allures : (from the French, judges for gait). In trotting races, judges watching the race from a car that follows the horses from the inner track. They have to make sure that no horse breaks into gallop or irregular trot.

Jump racing : one of the three types of racing.




Key : horse that has got serious chance to win a race and on which the bet is based.




Lane : fixed or movable line, which delineate the inside and outside part of the track. The race track can be right or left handed. It also means the place of each horse in a flat race.

Leader : the horse leading during the race.

Listed Race : race under conditions, with good quality horses. Below a group race.




Maiden : a horse that has never won a race.

Mare : female horse of 5 years old or older.

Martingale : piece of harness preventing the horse from rearing or the reins to be on the same side after the horse moves its head.

Miler : horse that runs in 1600 metres races.

Mobile start : start with a mobile barrier consisting of two folding arms attached to a motor vehicle. Mobile starts are used for some harness races,where the horses follow the barrier until the arms fold back and the race starts.

Musique : past performances of a horse, including details of its last races.




N.R. : abbreviation that stands for "non-runner" (before the race)

Non placed (N.P.) : horse that does not finish within the ten first of the race.

Nose : nostril of a horse




Oats : food for horses

Origins : pedigree of a horse

Outsider : horse not considered likely to win the race.

Overreach boots : protection for the legs from injuries, especially when the forefoot hit the hind legs.

Owner : physical or moral person owning one or more horses for training. Every owner has to get the "autorisation de faire courir" (authorization for his/her horses to be allowed to run) before presenting on a racecourse. This authorization is delivered after an inquiry by mother companies according to the type of race. After approval, the owner has to "declare its colours", respecting some rules: readability, shades and patterns.

Oxer : type of horse jump.




Pacer : horse setting the pace for another horse of the team.

Paddock : place where the horses are brought before the race to be shown in the racecourse.

Papier (faire le) : to study the performances, the pedigree, the aptitudes of each runner of a race in order to publish the tips.

Penetrometer : instrument to mesure the state of the ground.

Photo finish : equipment used by the placing judges to determine the official order of finish, especially for tight orders of finish. The equipment is situated in front of the finish line to avoid any contestation.

Placing judges : racing officials in charge of setting the official order of finish. Sometimes, the distance between two horses is so tiny that it is necessary to use the foto finish to set the official orden of finish.

P.M.H. : from the French "Pari Mutuel Hippodrome" (Racecourse Parimutuel). Type of wagering that allows to register the bets on each racecourse when there are races.

P.M.U. : from the French "Pari Mutuel Urbain". System that allows to register the bets in town, everyday when there are races, until 1.30 p.m. or later in some cases.

Parade ring : enclosure where the horses are presented to the public. Some journalists, the owners and the trainers have only access to the walking ring. The jockeys come to the trainer to know about the personality of the horse, its behaviour in the previous races,and to plan a strategy for the coming race.







Riding boots : shoes used by the jockey or by the driver.

Racecourse : race track.

Racing time per km : average time for a horse to run each kilometer of a course.

Rail Ditch and Fence : fence which depth is 4.10 metres and height 1.60 metres. It requests efforts and skill from both the horses and the jockeys.

Redboard : method of declaring the result of a race official by posting a red light on the tote board.

Refuse : when a horse do not obey the jockey. In jumping races, when the horse balk at a fence.

Rein : each strap connected to the harness and used to guide the horse.

Relegated : horse running against other horses of inferior value.

Riding breeches : calf-length trousers worn by jockeys and drivers.

Riding crop : stick used by the jockey.

Roan : coat of the horse; mixture of red and white hairs.

Rules of Racing : code that includes for each type of race all the rules for the public races on every racecourse in France. That includes the conditions under which the horses are selected, the way they are identified, the rules for entry, the type of events, the rules for the start and the finish, the rights and obligations of the owners, the trainers and the jockeys, the possible estimations and sanctions for irregularities.




Selective gait : sustained gait

Set down : when a jockey is set down for a certain period of time, he/she does not have the right to ride a horse in official races.

Saddle : seat of the jockey, on the back of the horse.

Silk : jacket worn by the jockey to designate the colours of the owner of a horse.

Sortir l'argent de la poche : in French, when a horse is in a very good condition. It incites the gambler to bet on it.

Sprinter : a horse that shows preference for short distances, from 1000 to 1300 metres.

Stable-lad : person who takes care of the horses in a stable.

Stallion : male horse used for breeding purposes.

Standard distance : distance of 2400 metres in flat racing.

Starter : person responsible for starting the races. The authorization is given to the starter from the judges. The judges count the runners, and from this moment, no jockey is allowed not to run, except under serious cirumstances.

Starting gate : in steeplechase and trot racing, elastics between two posts, removed when the race starts. The runners have to be at the same level. This is not easy, especially in trot races including handicaps. That is why for trot races, an electro-mechanical structure is used.

Starting stalls : in gallop races, device in which the horses are ranked according to the order choosen drawing odds, between the inside running rail, the inner track, and the outside.

Stayer : a horse that likes long distance courses.

Steeplechase : (the name comes from early races in which orientation was by reference to a churche steeple) jumping race for horses. This type of race is 3000 metres or more and includes at least 8 varied and difficult obstacles.

Stewards : the persons responsible for the smooth progress of the races. They have an extended power of decision: cancelation of events, modification of placings...

Stirrup : ring on each side of the saddle into which the jockey places his/her feet.

Stocking : white markings below the knees of a horse.

Stud Book : registry where the genealogy of the different races of horses is registered.

Stud Farm : a stable where horses are breeded.

Sulky : light two-wheeled cart used in harness racing.




Trial : before a jumping race, the horses have to qualify by jumping the trial fence.

Tip : confidential and supposedly authentic information.

To stretch : to increase the horse's speed by increasing its stride.

Trainer : the person who progressively prepares a horse for racing, and who ensures its ideal physical conditions.

Traquenard : irregular trot. The horse gallops with the hind legs and trots with the forelegs. This gait is prohibited in the races and leads to the disqualification of the horse.

Trot : one of the three types of races.

Trotter : horse that runs in trotting races. To participate in a race, every trotter has to run a qualifying race, with a given time and a given distance (according to its age). The horses are selected during this race. The trotter can participate in races from 2 years old until 10 years old, which can often make it famous.

Turf : grass on which races are run. Also, everything related to horse racing.

Turfer : person who goes at the racecourses, who bets.




Under starter's orders : means that the horse is waiting to enter the stalls, to wait behind the tape or to volte.







Waiting race : staying behind during the race and making the move at the final fence.

Wall : a jump for steeplechase races.

Warm up : slow canter before the beginning of the race to warm up the horse.

Water jump ("rivière") : fence of approximately 6,50 metres wide, which means an 8 metres jump.

Weigh in/Out : certification, by the clerk of scales, before or after the race, of the jockey's weigh. If it is inferior to the weigh assigned for the race, the horse can be left behind. If it is superior of 1,5 kilo to the assigned weigh for the race, the jockey can be fined or banned.

Weighing enclosure : enclosure including the weighing room, the paddock and the gallery.

Weighing room : official place where jockeys have their weight confirmed.

Weight Allowance : weight reduced in some races, either to apprentices or to jockeys who won a limited number of races.

Weight scale : distribution of the weights between the horses of a race.

Winner : horse that crosses the finish line first.

Winning post : post that marks where the finish line is.

Wooden track : track made of shaving of wood and of sawdust, used for the training of thoroughbreds.







Yearling : thoroughbred horse of one year old, the 1st of January following is birth.




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