Ahhhh, words.

I love them and since I love them so much, I’m going to explore a few that we use in our day-to-day and some that we don’t.

I’ll start with the one that I’ve always wondered about but until now never bothered to look into. I present you with…

The Ol’ Coggins Test

“Did you get the Coggins tests?”

“Well, where are they then?”

“They aren’t there. We kinda need them to cross the border.”  

A classic argument in the horse world.

Coggins. Why that name rather than EIA since they’re testing for Equine Infectious Anemia? The answer is embarrassingly simple.

Dr. Leroy Coggins, a virologist, created the “Coggins Test” in 1973 at Cornell University.

Mystery solved.

Though the virus has yet to be eradicated, thanks to the test many vets in North America have yet to come across a single case, which is great news since there is no vaccine or cure.

Why didn’t I look that up 20 years ago?


“Oh lordy, Betsy is cast again. All squished up against the wall. She seems happy enough though. Hand me that lunge line will ya, let’s get her back on her feet.”

Another conversation that we’ve all had, though probably a little more anxiety-fueled and perplexing upon discovery. Some horses have a knack for rolling too close to a wall in their stall only to find they no longer have the legroom to roll back over to get their legs underneath themselves. 

The question I want answered is why the word cast?

There are a million definitions for the word but not really one that would suggest a horse has rolled over and gotten its legs stuck against a stall wall.

A horse can cast a shoe and a shadow. I can cast a fishing line and a glance. A director of play may assemble a cast or cast his mind back to Shakespearian days. Bob may cast a vote or cast a spell or perhaps he is wearing a cast because he broke his arm while casting a mould.

You get the point.

For the most part, it seems the word, whether a noun or a verb, involves throwing things, a group of things or a mould for things. What I don’t understand is why we, as a collective group, say a horse is cast, rather than stuck or squished up against something. We all just say cast like we know what it means. But nowhere I have read or found the meaning of the word as we use it.  

Am I reading things incorrectly or looking at this from the wrong angle? If you know the answer, I’d sure like to hear it.


To cavort means to “bustle nimbly,” “leap about,” or “prance around,” which I often find myself doing.

I cannot recall what made me think to look into this word, but I’m glad I did.  

It is thought that cavort comes from the word cauvaut, which is thought to be a variation of the French word curvet, which is “a leap taken by a horse.”

For some reason the word curvet made me think about the courbette, an Airs Above the Ground movement the Lipizzaners do. Turns out courbette or curvet are the same thing, which, in itself is a bit of a leap, but who am I to disagree with those in the know?

Curvet, as stated above, is a variant of cauvaut, which is where we derive our word cavort. I somehow managed to reverse-engineer that entire thing. 

The one hitch in this is that courbette means to “bow or kowtow,” which is rather the opposite of what we know a courbette to be, which is a low leaping rear. We can’t win them all.


I admit I’ve never looked at this word and thought horses, which is silly given stable takes up the vast majority of it. 

Constable comes to us from the Late Latin words comes stabuli, meaning “count of the stable.” There is the slightly different meaning of “chief groom” that was established by the Theodosian Code from 438 AD, a compilation of some 2500 laws of the Roman Empire.

Historically speaking a constable was the highest-ranking official in a royal household. Today, however, a constable seems to have been demoted to a low-ranking peace office with limited policing authority. Such is life.

Now we know

And there we have it. A strange grouping of words that, as always, lead directly back to horses.