A Horse is a Horse of Course, but a Colt is a whole ‘nother Story

“How old is your horse?” “Oh, he’s 6 years, and 11 months.” “Oh, Ok”

Some horse people are just as annoying as new parents! Why you ask?

Well, I just want you to know that there is mass confusion going on in the barrel horse world about the definition of a “colt.” I don’t know if this is because people want to make themselves feel better about their horses’ progress or they just don’t know the difference, but today I’m here to set the record straight. When I ask someone how old their horse is, its kind of a loaded question. Most of the time I’m just trying to gauge how much experience the horse has based on how it just performed. 95% of the time I get this answer, “He’s just a colt.” Now you may be thinking well that’s because I’m asking people about their horse that runs one second off. Nope, this answer is one I hear across the board. 1D to 4D.

This has caused me some anguish people, especially when the horse just ran 3 tenths off the leader at a supershow. My mind goes into hyperdrive and I automatically start trying to figure out how in the hell they got blessed with a “colt” that can outrun 300 horses. I know there are “colts” out there that can do this, but they are pretty special individuals. (See Winners, Whiners, and Barrel Horse Timers for an explanation on why I even give this thought more than 3 seconds of my time.) When I find out they are a “colt,” I automatically start re-assessing my training techniques, if I’m a good enough trainer, if God really wants me to win. It all goes through my head. Then I come to find out a couple hours later from a friend in the stands that the horse is not actually a “colt,” but an 8 year old horse that was started on the pattern at the beginning of his  3 year old year.

What? Now I’m mad. I just spent some of this lifetime comparing my 5 years old horses that didn’t actually start running the pattern until they were 4 to a horse that has 4 more years of experience. So I’m here to stop the madness of this equine aging anarchy! Here are the definitions people. For my sanity please stick to them:

 A horse that is under a year= Weanling

Yearling= This should be self explanatory

A horse that is about to turn 2= Long Yearling

2 and 3 Year Old= Again self explanatory

Once they get to three, the following question usually arises, “Are you going to run him as a 4 year old?”

Futurity Colt= 4 Year Old

5 year Old, Now this one gets tricky!

If its their first year running then they are a 5 Year Old Futurity Colt, if it is their second year running then they are just a 5 Year Old.


After this point the answer is just, 6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15, or old! Don’t call him a colt and let me find out the sucker is 7. I may just jump off my horse and go crazy white woman on you. I know, I know I take things too seriously some times. I’ve been called over-analytical and sometimes naive (I think just because I take people for their word). But dang it, say what you mean and mean what you say. It’s not that hard. I once had a horse that thought very much down the same lines. He was having problems turning his first barrel and I had worked all week setting him at the first and getting him to rate. Well he showed me come Sunday. I headed into that arena with the heart of a lion, sending him towards the first barrel as fast as he could go, I sat up and said, “Whoa” to get him to rate, and you know what? He stopped. Dead in his tracks. Laid elevens down that were about 16 feet long. Just dropped the boat anchor right there at the first barrel. I was astounished, I really meant just slow down! But that’s entirely too long of a sentence. So my “whoa” is now an “easy.” You won’t find this smart girl, making that mistake twice.

So a horse is horse of course, of course, but a colt is a whole ‘nother story! Keep it that way!

1 Comment

  1. But if I always say colt, then people will not criticize me when my horse and I make a mistake. It’s acceptable for the colts to make mistakes. Great article.

Leave a Reply