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A Steeplechase Glossary


Maiden: A horse that has never won a race. In steeplechasing, a horse that has won on the flat is still a steeplechase maiden.

National fence: A man-made fence used in all major track steeplechasing. It got its name from the National Steeplechase Association, which developed the fence. It consists of a steel frame stuffed with plastic “brush” and stands 52 inches high. 

National Steeplechase Association: The official governing body for steeplechasing in the U.S., based in Fair Hill, Md.

Novice: A horse in the early stages of its steeplechase career. Novice races, restricted by the date a horse breaks its maiden over jumps (usually Jan. 1 of that year), give horses experience with obstacles before competing against more seasoned jumpers.

Steeplechase: A horse race over jumps, which differentiates the sport from flat racing.

Steeplechase horse: All steeplechasers are thoroughbreds, and most started in flat racing before being trained to jump.

Steeplechase jockey: Professional jockeys, the human riders in horse races, have weight limits. The weight limit is traditionally higher for “jump jockeys” than for flat jockeys—about 140 pounds versus 110 pounds—though some well-known jockeys like Jacinto Vasquez and Jean Cruguet also have ridden in steeplechases

Steeplechase start: Steeplechases don’t start from a gate, as in flat races. Instead, horses are lined up and start from a standstill or a walk.

Timber fence: A wooden fence constructed of boards, logs, or posts and rails. 

Wings: The panels on either side of a steeplechase fence that are designed to guide horses toward the fence instead of running around it. 

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