A Glossary of Breeding Terminology

BROODMARE SIRE Also known as the damsire – the sire of the dam of a horse, or maternal grandsire.

BY  A horse is ‘by’ a certain sire – this term is never used for the dam.

COLT   A male under the age of four years which has not been gelded.

DAM    Mother of a horse.

DAMSIRE  Also known as the broodmare sire – the sire of the dam of a horse, or maternal grandsire.

DISTAFF  The female or dam’s side of the pedigree.

ENTIRE Male horse over three years old which has not been castrated, also known as a stallion.

FILLY A female under the age of four years.

FIRST DAM  The dam or mother of a horse.

FIVE EIGHTHS SISTER / BROTHER Where five of the eight great-grandparents are the same as those of another horse.

FOAL  The offspring of a dam.

FULL SISTER / BROTHER A horse by the same sire and same dam.

GELDING  A male horse which has been castrated.  Gelding is usually performed in a horse’s second or third year, but it can be carried out from a very early age.   Reasons for gelding include unruly behaviour, lack of concentration on raceday activities and excess body weight (stallions generally carry more body fat than geldings or mares and consequently place more pressure on their legs).

HALF SISTER / BROTHER  A horse from the same dam.  A horse by the same sire is not termed a relation – it is referred to only as being by the same sire.  This is because a stallion may have hundreds of progeny every year for many years, whereas most mares will only have 10 or so foals in their lifetime, making the relationship more relevant.

INBREEDING Mating a mare to a stallion who carries the same individual within the first three generations is ‘inbreeding’ to that individual.  For example, War Relic is inbred to Fairy Gold, who appears on the second remove of his sire and the second remove of his dam.  As a product of that mating, War Relic is said to be inbred 3 x 3 to Fairy Gold.  To give even more detail to this description, War Relic is inbred 3m x 3f  – ie, through a son (m) and a daughter (f).

NICKS   Crosses (usually of a sire over a broodmare sire) which have proven to have an above average record for producing stakes winners.

OUT OF  A horse is ‘from’ or ‘out of’ a certain dam – these terms are never used for the sire.

PEDIGREE  Family tree of a horse – in the Thoroughbred it can be traced back to the creation of the breed (from a mixture of Arab and Barb horses) two hundred years ago. Modern day Thoroughbreds can trace their ancestry back to one of three particular foundation stallions, the Godolphin Arabian, the Byerley Turk and the Darley Arabian.  

PROGENY  The offspring of a horse.

RIG  A male horse which has a testicle that has not descended into the scrotum.  Gelding of a rig requires a surgical operation.

SECOND DAM  The grand-dam (grandmother) on the female side of the pedigree.

SIRE     Father of a horse (a stallion at stud is not termed a sire in catalogue pedigrees until he produces a winner).

STALLION  Male horse over three years old which has not been castrated, also known as an ‘entire’.

TABULATED PEDIGREE  A pedigree displayed in table or grid format.  The sire is always positioned at the top of the pedigree and the dam at the bottom.

THIRD DAM  The great grand-dam on the female side of the pedigree.

THREE QUARTER SISTER / BROTHER Where a horse is by the same sire and the dam is a half sister to the dam of the other horse (three of the four grandparents are the same).

WEANLING  Horse under the age of one year which has been weaned from its dam.

YEARLING  A young horse that is a year old or that is in its second year.