Age: Every horse shares a “birthday” of January first. A horse becomes one year old on the first of January after he or she is born, and turns two one year later – regardless of the actual date of his or her birth.

Break: When a horse gallops, instead of trotting or pacing, it’s on a break. The driver must get the horse out of the way of the others, must not improve their position, and must attempt to get the horse back on its proper gait. A horse is not automatically disqualified.

Colt: A male horse, age three or under.

Dam: The female parent of a horse.

Filly: A female horse, age three or under.

First-Over: A horse racing on the outside without another horse directly in front of him or her. A foreshortening of the phrase “first overland.”


Foal: A newly-born horse. Also, the act of giving birth.

Gelding: A desexed horse of any age.

Horse: A male horse, age four and up.

Mare: A female horse, age four and up.

Purse: The cash prize won by the owner.

Qualifying Race: A race without a purse or betting used to determine a horse’s ability and manners. Horses who have made repeated breaks in stride or have been away from the races for a long period of time must race in a qualifying race before being allowed to race in a betting race.

Sire: The male parent of a horse.

– Courtesy of the Maine Harness Racing Promotion Board.

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