Old Wives Tales about Horses

By Dr. Kelly Hudspeth, DVM.

There are tons of sayings about horses and owning horses. Although we do not know the reason a saying gets started, it is fun to see what has been passed down through the generations. Almost everyone has heard at least one of these sayings. Although most are totally unfounded medically and otherwise, some people still firmly believe in a few of them.

  • One white foot, buy a horse; two white feet, try a horse; three white feet, look well about him; four white feet, do without him.
  • A red mare will either be crazy or mean.
  • A horse with two whorls on its forehead will be more difficult.
  • Changing a horse’s name is bad luck.
  • The deeper a stud dips his nostrils into the water he is drinking, the better the sire he will be.
  • When you cut a horse, throw one testicle to the east and one to the west, and don’t look where they fall, or he will be proud cut.
  • It is bad luck to place a cowboy hat on a bed.
  • A horse is only worth as much as how many times he can roll over in a row.
  • Curly ears means a hot horse.
  • A horse with a Roman nose is stubborn.
  • If you can see the white of a horses eye, it is skittish or temperamental (or crazy).
  • Stepping in a pile of manure is good luck.
  • If a horse steps in a wolf print, it will be crippled.
  • Inhaling a horses breath is cure for whooping cough.
  • You take a hair from the mare’s tail, and tie a nail to it. Then you hold it above the mare’s hips… and if it doesn’t swing, she’s not pregnant. If it swings in a circle, she’s carrying a filly; if it swings straight, a colt.
  • Eating a hair from a horse’s forelock is cure for worms.
  • Horses standing with their backs to a hedge mean it’s going to rain.
  • If you break a mirror the misfortune can be averted if you lead a horse through the house. Same applies if you spill salt in the kitchen.
  • Seeing a grey horse on the way to a church is considered lucky for the bride and groom.
  • In England and Germany dreaming of a white horse is considered a death omen.
  • Gray horses and horses with four white feet are considered unlucky in racing.
  • Copper pennies in a tank will prevent moody behavior in mares
  • If you lead a white horse through your house it will banish all evil.
  • A horseshoe, hung above the doorway, will bring good luck to a home. In most of Europe protective horseshoes are placed in a downward facing position, but in some parts of Ireland and Britain people believe that the shoes must be turned upward or “the luck will run out.”
  • A horseshoe hung in the bedroom will keep nightmares away.
  • Cure for Founder — Pour turpentine into a saucer, and hold it against the horse’s navel. It’ll suck it right up, and the founder will be gone.  (I heard this from my daddy and grandfather – daddy said he witnessed it!)
  • It was thought that warts could be cured by circling them in horse hair.
  • Tradition, they say, can teach us a lot,
    So here is what horsemen, on color, have thought.
    A bay is hardy, a chestnut is fast
    And you can’t kill a buckskin: he’ll last and last
    A grey is gentle, a sorrel is hot
    A dun is a horse you’ll be happy you bought.
    White eyes are flighty, white feet may crack
    While some won’t rely on the feet of a black.
    Some pintos are lucky, like the medicine hat,
    But all horsemen agree the best color is fat.

    – Anonymous

  • Four white feet, keep him not a day
    three white feet, send him far away
    two white feet, give him to a friend,
    one white foot, keep him till the end.


“Horse Related Superstitions and Wives Tales”  The Dedicated Horseman February 2, 2014, http://dedicatedhorseman.blogspot.com/2014/02/horse-related-superstitions-and-wives.html accessed  September  22, 2016

“Horse Superstitions and Old Wives Tales” Ablackhorse.com  Sep 03 2006  http://www.ablackhorse.com/board/index.php?/topic/11572-horse-superstitions-and-old-wives-tales/   accessed  September  22, 2016

My Horse Forum Myths / Old Wive’s Tale Feb 20, 2013.  http://myhorseforum.com/threads/myths-old-wives-tales.501285/ accessed  September  22, 2016


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