202: Introduction to Horses

The below content replicates the content of the physical exhibit at CSU Spur. It can be used for reference, language translation, and additional accessibility.

202A – Breeds of Horses

Overview of Horse Breeds

A breed is a group of animals that has a specific characteristic or trait, such as color, behavior, or function. Horse breeds are divided into light horse, warmblood, draft horse, and pony breeds. There are more than 300 breeds of horses throughout the world today, and 250,000 horses in Colorado!

How do we measure a horse’s height?

A horse’s height isn’t measured in feet; it’s measured in hands! One hand is equal to four inches. Unlike humans, the height of a horse is measured at the withers (the ridge between the shoulder blades).

Horses of a Different Color

There are three basic coat colors (or expressions) in horses from which other colors derive: red (chestnut/sorrel), black, and bay (reddish body with black point coloration at the mane, tail, ear tips, and lower legs). Coat color in horses is determined by genetics, and there are variations of colors. Look at the color expressions in these horses. How many can you identify?

Horse Breeds
  • Miniature Horse
  • Pony of the Americas
  • Arabian (Photo courtesy of the Arabian Horse Association)
  • American Quarter Horse
  • Thoroughbred
  • Clydesdale (Photo courtesy of Anheuser-Busch)

202B – Careers for Horses

Horse Disciplines

The United States Equestrian Federation recognizes 18 competitive disciplines that demonstrate a horse’s unique athleticism and versatility.

Horses Role in Society Today

Horses were once the predominant means of transportation and played an important role in agriculture. However, with many of those activities replaced by modern technology, many horses now support human wellness through recreation, sport, companionship, and service.

What the Horse Means to You

Horses have unique qualities that enable them to form lifelong, deep emotional connections with people. Much like people, horses thrive on healthy relationships for a sense of safety and security. Horses are experts at reading human emotions, allowing for strong bonds between horses and humans.

Featured Disciplines
  • Reining: Contestants show agility by running multiple patterns, such as circling, spinning and the infamous sliding stop.
  • Cutting: Western sport where a horse and rider are judged on the ability to separate a specific cow from the herd.
  • Dressage: One of the oldest of disciplines, this sport serves to strengthen both horse and rider through a series of progressively difficult movements designed to develop balance and collection.
  • Racing: The sport of horse racing combines speed and endurance as horses and their jockey race to the finish line over a set distance.
  • Endurance: Controlled races through challenging trails ranging from 20 – 150 miles, which are often held over several days that test the physical and mental conditioning of both horse and rider.
  • Packing and Outfitting: Pack horses carry goods and supplies inside bags (or panniers) across difficult mountainous terrain.

202C – Hoof Care and Grooming

Hoof Care

Proper care of a horse’s hoof is important to their overall health. Hooves need to be cleaned on a regular basis to remove dirt and debris because something as small as a lodged stone could easily cause bruising and hurt the horse, much like a rock in your shoe. Horses can remain barefoot and have healthy hooves, but some horses wear shoes. Much like our shoes, horseshoes provide protection, traction, and support for active horses.

Trimming Hooves

Experienced farriers (hoof trimming and shoeing experts) use a hoof knife to remove dead sole and any excess frog (see the hoof anatomy photo). Hoof nippers are used to trim the hoof wall, and a rasp is used to smooth the area and create a level, weight-bearing surface.

Hoof Anatomy

Just like your fingernails, a horse’s hoof is made of keratin and constantly grows! Hooves require trimming every 6 to 8 weeks to help ensure balance and overall hoof health. The hoof wall is trimmed to the appropriate angle to be level with the ground, and the sole and frog of the foot are also carefully pared or trimmed down.


The frog is the v-shaped part of the foot that absorbs shock from the ground and aids in traction.


The sole provides supports and protects the foot’s sensitive areas. The surface is trimmed to be concave to the ground since being flat would cause bruising on the sole.

Hoof Wall

The hoof wall bears the weight of the horse and needs trimming regularly to balance the foot and prevent the horse from getting injured.

The Importance of Grooming

Grooming is an important part of caring for a horse, especially before and after rides when dirt and sweat can get under the saddle. Grooming cleans the coat, massages the horse’s muscles, and brings oils to the surface for a shiny, clean appearance. It is also an opportunity to check the horse for injuries. Grooming is also a great way to reinforce the human-animal bond.

What Do We Use to Groom?
  • Rubber Curry Comb: A curry comb is used to remove large clumps of dirt from the horse and brings dirt and loose hair to the surface.  It is used in a circular motion over the large muscles of the horse.
  • Hard Brush: The hard brush has stiff bristles and is used after the curry comb to remove the dirt and hair that has been brought to the surface.  This brush should be used in the direction the hair lays and should also be used gently on the horse’s legs.
  • Soft Brush: The soft brush may be used all over the horse’s body including the face and legs.  It is made of very soft bristles and helps to get the last of the dirt and loose hair off the horse.
  • Mane/Tail brush or comb: The mane and tail brush or comb are both used to detangle hair. When brushing out the mane and tail, start from the bottom and work your way closer to the horse’s body as you gently detangle the hair.
  • Hoof Pick: The hoof pick is used to remove dirt and debris from the bottom of the horse’s hoof. It is cleaned from the heel to the toe avoiding the frog (‘v’ part of the hoof).


Associate Attorney, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority

Ms. Becker has dedicated her career to the Navajo Nation and its natural resources.  She is currently serving as an Associate Attorney for the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.  Prior to this position, she had the honor of serving as the Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources from May 2013 to January 2019, as an appointee of President Begaye and Vice-President Nez, after serving eleven (11) years as an attorney for the Navajo Nation focusing on water rights and natural resources issues.  Continuing her deep interest and passion for water, she serves on the Leadership Team for the Water and Tribes Initiative in the Colorado River Basin, as a Commissioner on the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, as an appointee of Governor Lujan Grisham, and on the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission, as an appointee of Speaker Damon.  Ms. Becker is equally passionate about supporting artists and serves as a Trustee for the Institute of American Indian Arts and Culture (IAIA), as an appointee of President Obama.  Ms. Becker is a member of the Nation and lives on the Navajo Nation in Fort Defiance with her husband and two school age children.

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