Colt (horse)

A colt is a male horse, usually below the age of four years.[1][2]


The term "colt" only describes young male horses and is not to be confused with foal, which is a horse of either sex less than one year of age. Similarly, a yearling is a horse of either sex between the ages of one and two. A young female horse is called a filly, and a mare once she is an adult animal. In horse racing, particularly for Thoroughbreds in the United Kingdom, a colt is defined as an uncastrated male from the age of two up to and including the age of four.[3]

An adult male horse, if left intact, is called either a "stallion" or a "horse" (sometimes full horse); if castrated, it is called a gelding. In some cases, particularly informal nomenclature, a gelding under four years is still called a colt. A rig or ridgling is a male equine with a retained testicle or one which has been incompletely castrated.[4]

In the wild, colts are driven from their herds by the herd stallion somewhere between the age of one and two. This may be, in part, an instinct to prevent inbreeding. When driven out, they usually join with other young stallions in a bachelor herd. They stay with this band until they are mature enough to form their own herd of mares. The terms "rag" or "rake" have been historically used to refer to a group of colts, but they have fallen out of modern usage.[5][6]

Colts of different ages
A weanling colt
A weanling colt
A yearling colt
A yearling colt
A two year old colt
A two-year-old colt
A three-year-old colt at a racetrack
A three-year-old colt


  1. ^ This definition is preferred by OED, Merriam Webster, Saunders Veterinary dictionary, Websters (with narrow exceptions) and Collins
  2. ^ "Colt | Define Colt at". Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  3. ^ Waterman, Jack (1999). The Punter's Friend. Harpenden, Herts, UK: Queen Anne Press. ISBN 1852916001. 
  4. ^ Summerhayes, RS, Encyclopaedia for Horsemen, Warne & Co, London & New York, 1966
  5. ^ Barrows, Edward M. Animal Behavior Desk Reference. CRC Press, 2001. p. 296.
  6. ^ Oxford English Dictionary 1933: Rag

External links


See also: Colt and colț


Wikipedia has articles on:
A mare and colt.


From Middle English colt, from Old English colt (young donkey, young camel), from Proto-Germanic *kultaz (plump; stump; thick shape, bulb), from Proto-Indo-European *gelt- (something round, pregnant belly, child in the womb), from *gel- (to ball up, amass). Cognate with Norwegian kult (treestump), Swedish kult (young boar, boy, lad). Related to child.



colt (plural colts)

  1. A young male horse.
  2. A youthful or inexperienced person; a novice.
    • 1594, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, I. ii. 38:
      Ay, that's a colt indeed, for he doth nothing but / talk of his horse, and he makes it a great appropriation to / his own good parts that he can shoe him himself.
  3. (nautical) A short piece of rope once used by petty officers as an instrument of punishment.

Derived terms



colt (third-person singular simple present colts, present participle colting, simple past and past participle colted)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To horse; to get with young.
  2. (obsolete, transitive) To befool.
  3. To frisk or frolic like a colt; to act licentiously or wantonly.
    • Spenser
      They shook off their bridles and began to colt.

See also



Definitions by
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