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 ...view middle of the document...
" 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. "Geld," is a Scandinavian term meaning barren. Therefore, the castrated horse is barren and referred to as a gelding.
Interestingly enough a horse with a pedigree is called a "thoroughbred." In years past these horses were simply known as "bred-horse" and contrasted with a cocktail. "Cocktail," meaning a horse with a docked tail that stood up like the tail of a young rooster or "cockerel." Equines having their tails docked in this fashion were less likely to have a pedigree. Hence the connection between cock-tails and non thoroughbreds. This term has given rise to the name of our modern day name for a mixed drink. Given the reason of a mixed parentage and a drink with mixed ingredients we have named our drink after the "cock-tailed," horse.
Through the years the names have meant the same but changed only in pronunciation. From the Scottish, Scandinavians and the Anglo-Saxons, we have used these words to refer to our beloved equine friends. From the time they are born, "foal," till they become adults, "mare," "stallion," or "gelding," these words will be universal. So toast a drink to their faithful service by having a cocktail while paying homage to a mongrel horse with a tail like a cock.