Why Horses Are called Horses

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Why Horses Are called Horses

Around stables and in the circles of horse lovers every where, names such as, "horse," "pony," "stallion," "mare," and "foal," are some of the words verbalized.

These names are spoken absent mindly without a thought to their origin.

The word horse in theory comes from an ancient term of a similar meaning,"swift," or "running." Hence the word horse is an appropriate name for an animal that has increased the mobility of humans since the domestication of the beast.

A small horse that is not over fifty-eight inches, or in equine language, fourteen hands, high regardless of age or sex is referred to as a pony. "Pony," did not originally start out as this word. A Latin word "pullus," meaning foal started the chain. From this came "pullanus," meaning colt. A small colt was given the name of "poulenet," pronounced "pool-ney." Whenever the name reached Scotland the Scots dropped the "l," and said "poo-ney." So in these modern times we simply pronounce it "pony."

An unpredictable and sometimes dangerous horse is the stallion. A stallion refers to an adult male horse that has not been castrated. The word stallion dates back to the fourteenth century. Its meaning is literally "one kept in a stall," the "stall-i-on."

Mostly docile and predictable, unless she has a foal by her side, is the "mare," An Anglo-Saxon word for horses in general was "mearh," and the feminine of this was "mere." Therefore, we now use the word "mare," meaning and adult female horse.

"Foal," is the name of a young horse so named from the time it is born till it has been weaned. Another Anglo-Saxon word "fola," has given us this word. The corresponding feminine name is "filly." One which we still use today. "filly," refers to any young female horse, from the time it is weaned till it is four years old.

In today's terms we refer to the weaned male foal until it is four as a "colt."

Though "colt," is a narrow term used today it is found in the book of Genesis. There is a reference in the seventeenth-century translation to, "thirty camels with their colts."

Another Biblical reference describes a colt as "the foal of an ass." Though "colt," was not originally intended to refer to a young male equine it is the standard form today.

A "gelding," is a mature horse that has been castrated.
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