What is the meaning behind these horse sayings?

Por Horse TV
NEWS | Lifestyle

Humans have been living with horses for thousands of years. From the time they were first domesticated to the modern day, we have altered our speech and found a way of including them in our idioms, colloquialisms and euphemisms. 

Let’s find out what these horse idioms mean and how they are used!

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Meaning: When someone gives you a gift, don’t be ungrateful and not thank them for it. 

Example: “I know you did not like the dress your aunt gave you, but you should not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Where does it come from: It was common for horse’s age to be determined by checking its teeth. This soon became a way of assessing its value, however if a horse was given as a gift, it was considered rude to check its mouth, hence the expression. 

Hold your horses

Meaning: Slow down, wait

Example: “Take it easy, hold your horses, son. If you go too fast, you might cause an accident.”

Where does it come from: In The Illiad by Homer, Antilochus is told to “hold his horses” when driving a chariot too fast. 

A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse

Meaning: It is unnecessary to explain something because one already understands or knows enough about it.

Example: No need to tell me what you were up to last night - a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse. 

Eat like a horse

Meaning: Eat a surprising amount; eat a great deal. 

Example: “I’ve got three boys at home and they eat like a horse, so my grocery bill is very high these days.”

Get off your high horse

Meaning: Be more humble; stop behaving in a superior manner. 

Example: John used to tell his classmates that he was a genius, but after a few bad marks, he had to come off his high horse and study as everyone else. 

Wild horses wouldn’t drag me away

Meaning: Nothing could persuade me to take a different course. 

Example: “Despite my feet hurt a bit, I was determined to finish the race. Wild horses couldn’t have dragged me away.” 

Where does it come from: This saying could come from the medieval torture method of using horses to stretch prisoners and attempt to force confessions.

Horse Sense

Meaning: practical wisdom; common sense from practical experience instead of education. 

Example: My grandpa cannot use Google Maps to get somewhere, but once he’s been in a place, he doesn’t forget the way. He’s got a horse sense.

Where does it come from: In Westward Ho!, written by James Paulding there is a mention to horse sense: “I’m for Dangerfield, though he hasn’t got a white pocket-handkerchief, and though he can’t play the piano. He’s a man of good strong horse sense.”

Dark horse

Meaning: underdog; someone who unexpectedly wins a race or competition; someone with unknown talent who surprises everyone with the outcome.

Example: “What a performance from Nathan! He stopped the clock on 32.12, ahead of the world number one. He became the dark horse in the event.”

Where does it come from: The phrase comes from gambling and it refers to an unknown horse that can be hard to bet on based on lack of information about it. 

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink

Meaning: No matter how much you try to persuade someone or try to help someone, it will not work unless they put the effort in. 

Example: A: I don’t understand, we’ve given him the best education, but he won’t pursue a meaningful career. B: Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride

Meaning: if wishing worked, everyone would have what they want; if you could achieve your aims simply by wishing them, life would be very easy. 

Example: She told me she wanted to become Miss Universe and I said “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” 

The BBC has prepared this video with horse colloquialisms that are used as expressions:

Which of these horse expressions have you heard before and which ones do you use? Let us know on our social media, we are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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