Horse Symbolism and Meaning

Throughout history horses have symbolized power, pride, vitality and speed. Horses also symbolize freedom, ambition, spirituality and strength in working together in a team.

The horse represents victory. This is especially great for anyone involved in some kind of competition. This could be sports, business or education.

Horses symbolism meaning

Horse statues or paintings of horses may help attract lasting success into your life. Make sure the horses are facing inward towards your home or office.

You do not want to make it so that the horses are running away from your home or workplace. That would be devastating as it symbolizes success leaving your office.

Equally you do not want to display horses shown in a threatening posture. They need to seem happy, relaxed or running free.

According to Feng Shui paintings or sculptures of eight or nine horses are especially auspicious. Eight is the number representing prosperity. Nine ensures a successful completion of a project and that the success is long-lasting.

Horses – Ghost Superstition

Should a horse suddenly stop it was told that the horse detected a spirit or ghost lurking about. Many believed that horses could see what humans could not.

Horses needed protection against evil spirits, witches and fairies when in the stable. It was very common to hang protective charm objects in the stables. This could be a holed stone, a horseshoe or any other object the owners believed would keep witches and what have you not out of the stables.

The Horse in the Chinese Zodiac

horse year Chinese zodiac

The horse was the seventh animal to reach the Jade Emperor in time for the great banquet, thereby securing a year in the Chinese zodiac. An overview of all the twelve animals can be found on the page Chinese New Year.

Horse people are known to be very popular, social and attractive. They are outspoken and probably not the ones you want to share your most private secrets with. Many love to shop which could or could not get them in trouble depending on their income.

For people born in the year of the horse their lucky season is the summer.  The horse is a yang energy connected to the sun.

Their positive attitude ensures lots of friends at all times.

Flowers especially favorable to horse people are Jasmine, Marigold and Sunflowers.

In Chinese astrology two hours of each day are dedicated to one of the twelve animals.

If you were born between the hours of 11.00 and 13:00 (11:00 AM – 1:00 PM), you were born in the hours of the horse.

This indicates that you will have some of the horse’s qualities in addition to the qualities of the animal year of your birth.

It is rumored that Buddha himself was born in the year of the horse.

Some famous people born in the year of the horse includes Chopin (1810), Rembrandt (1606), Theodore Roosevelt (1858), Barbara Streisand (1942), Cindy Crawford (1966), Harrison Ford (1942), Jackie Chan (1954), Jerry Seinfeld (1954), John Travolta (1954), Oprah Winfrey (1954), Paul McCartney(1942), Ashton Kutcher (1978),  and Emma Watson (1990).

Metal horse:January 30,1930 – February 16,1931

Water horse:February 15, 1942 – February 4, 1943

Wood horse:February 3, 1954 – January 23, 1955

Fire horse:January 21, 1966 – February 8, 1967

Earth horse:February 7, 1978 -January 27, 1979

Metal horse:January 27, 1990 – February 13, 1991

Water horse:February 12,2002 – January 31, 2003

Wood horse:January 31, 2014 – February 18, 2015

Fire horse:February 17, 2026 – February 5, 2027

Earth horse:February 4, 2038 – January 23, 2039

Epona – Celtic Horse Goddess

Epona was the Celtic horse goddess among the Ancient Continental Celts. Her popularity and worship later spread to Britain. At one time she was worshipped as a mare, later a beautiful goddess riding a white mare.

Epona was the goddess of all horses and their riders. She was also a protective goddess of horse whispers, horse traders and breeders, horse doctors and the cavalry.

The horse goddess was adopted by the Ancient Romans. Epona is the only Celtic deity ever quoted in the Roman pantheon.

In Ancient Rome Epona was celebrated on December 18th. The fact that she had an official feast day went to show that she was accepted as a part of the Roman State religion.

Horses and Poseidon in Greek Mythology

Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea is responsible for creating and giving the horse to mankind. It is believed that Poseidon once was worshiped in the form of a horse.

He was the brother of Zeus and Hades. The three brothers ended up dividing the world among them. Zeus ruled the sky, Poseidon the sea and Hades ruled the Underworld.

In Roman mythology Poseidon goes by the name Neptune, Zeus is called Jupiter and Hades is called Pluto.

Poseidon himself owned water horses. These allowed the sea god to travel through the waves of the oceans at an extremely high speed.

Pegasus – The Winged Horse in Greek Mythology

The most famous horse in Greek mythology is probably the winged horse named Pegasus. Pegasus is closely connected to Poseidon.

It all started with a very beautiful woman named Medusa. Poseidon craved her and ended up raping Medusa.

The mistake he made was raping her on the holy grounds of a shrine devoted to the goddess Athena.

Some versions of this myth tell the story of a love affair and dismisses that it was rape.

When Athena discovered what had happened she went into a fit. The goddess was so furious she transformed Medusa to the ugliest woman alive. Medusa lost her gorgeous hair which was transformed to hideous hissing snakes.

As if that was not enough, Medusa also got pregnant by Poseidon. Later on Perseus was on a mission to secure Medusa’s head.

He succeeded in beheading her. As she fell down dead, a winged horse emerged from her body. The winged horse was Pegasus, her child by Poseidon.

Hesiod and the Muses
Hesiod and the Muses by GustaveMoreau 1860

Pegasus became quite loved among the Ancient Greeks. The Nine Muses are strongly associated with Pegasus. They loved this horse dearly.

The sacred well called Hippocrene on Mount Helicon, meaning the “Horse’s Well” is said to be created by Pegasus.

This particular well is shaped like a horseshoe and is sacred to the Nine Muses. Writers and poets who drank from this well would receive the gift of inspiration.

Pegasus was not immortal. When his time had come, Zeus placed Pegasus as a star constellation in the northern sky.

Helios and his Horses

horses of Helios
Horses of Helios – Piccadilly Circus, London

Helios was the sun god in Greek mythology. His equivalent in Roman mythology was called Sol.

Helios rode across the sky every day from east to west. He rode in a golden chariot drawn by four fire-spitting horses.

The names of the four horses belonging to Helios were Pyrois, Eos, Æthon and Phlegon.

Helios saw and heard everything that went on in the world. In Ancient Greece it was not uncommon to swear the truth by Helios when taking an oath.

Horses of Night and Day in Norse Mythology

Similar to Greek mythology, Norse myth also has the gods of the sky linked to horses. Nótt was the goddess of the night, she was dark as night. She was married to Delling in her third marriage. Delling was the handsome god of dawn.

Nótt and Delling had a son named Dagr. He was even more handsome than his father. He was the god of daylight.

Dagr Norse mythology

Nótt and her son ended up travelling across the sky continuously. They each had their own horse.

Nótt rode first and was followed by her son Dagr. Night always came first and was followed by day.

The name of the horse belong to Nótt (Night) was Hrímfaxi.

The name of the horse belonging to Dagr (Day) was Skinfaxi.

The sun goddess named Sol also travelled through the sky with a chariot and horses. As did the Moon god named Máni.

In Norse myth the Moon is male and the Sun is female.

Sleipnir – The Eight-Legged Horse

Sleipnir is the most famous horse in Norse mythology. This horse belonged to Odin, the one-eye principle god.

odin sleipnir

The horse is grey and has eight legs. Sleipnir is magical and could gallop just as easily through air as over land.

The name “Sleipnir” means “Glider”.

Loki was the father/mother of Sleipnir.

Loki was a trickster god who constantly got the other gods in trouble. He had the ability to change forms.

On one occasion Loki transformed himself into a mare and mated with the great stallion named Svadilfari.

The result of this union was Sleipnir. Loki gave Sleipnir to Odin.

Gulltopp – The horse belonging to Heimdall

Heimdall was the watchman god in Norse Mythology. He guarded the bridge (rainbow) which separated Midgard (the human world) from Aasgard (home of the gods). The bridge was called Bifrost.

He needed less sleep than a bird and could hear grass growing. Heimdall could see more than a hundred miles night or day.

Heidall was responsible for blowing his horn warning all the nine worlds that Ragnarok (end of the world) was approaching.

He had a horse named Gulltopp (Gold-Top). The name of his horse refers to the horse’s mane made of gold. Heimdall himself had gold teeth and was sometimes called “Gullintanni”. This horse was swifter than the wind.

The Valkyries and their Horses

Valkyrie and a Dying Hero - Hans Makart
Valkyrie and a Dying Hero – Hans Makart

The Valkyries were female chooses over the slain. They rode threw the sky on their horses. The horses were extremely strong and fast and flew and dived in the skies.

They would circle over the battlefield. It was in their power to decide who had died a brave and heroic death. Those who were found worthy would be transported to Valhalla.

Odin ruled in Valhalla and this was where brave slain Vikings would spend their afterlife. In Valhalla they could continue partying and fighting for all eternity.

Surya – The Sun God in Hinduism

Surya Sun god

Surya is the name of the Sun god in Hinduism. He is associated with horses. He rides a chariot drawn by seven horses. Some say that the number seven is linked to the colors of the rainbow.

The Sun god is often seen with a lotus flower in his hand. His symbol is the swastika.

Surya was married to Sanjna (cloud goddess). She found his heat unbearable and fled to a forest. Sanjna transformed herself into a mare.

She had her maid take her place as the wife of Surya. That did not work as she had planned.

Surya was married to Sanjna (cloud goddess). She found his heat unbearable and fled to a forest. Sanjna transformed herself into a mare.

She had her maid take her place as the wife of Surya. That did not work as she had planned.

Surya wanted his real wife back and went looking for her. He eventually found her in the form of a mare. The Sun god transformed himself into a horse and mated with his wife.

Birth of the Ashvin twins - the horse drivers

They produced the Ashvin twins, the horse drivers.  They make way for the sunrise and sunset. Their individual names are Nasatya and Dasra.

The Ashvin twins represent strength and energy. They drive a three-wheeled chariot drawn by horses.

The Ashvin twins also became the doctors for the gods.  They are the gods of healing and also rejuvenate the old.

The union between Surya and Sanjna also produced Revanta. He was to become the guardian god of warriors and hunters.

Revanta is presented riding a horse. He is one of the few deities shown with boots. Most deities are shown barefooted.

Revanta is also the divine god of horses. Some claim that by worshipping Revanta, he will show his gratitude by keeping ghosts away from the horses.

White Horses Symbolism and Meaning

white horses

White horses have a strong position in superstition, mythology and history. These horses were believed to have special powers.

They could warn against dangers and predict the future. The white horses are strongly associated with heroes and would come to the rescue in troubles times. They were associated with the sun and with fertility.

Many of them were claimed to have supernatural powers. The white horses were magical. White horses have special favorable qualities in myth and belief all over the world.

The White Uffington Horse

Uffington white horse

On White Horse Hill in Oxfordshire, England we find the absolutely oldest figure of a white horse. It is more than 3000 years old. This is a huge figure measuring 360 feet (110 meters). The color white was intentional because the deep ditches which forms this figure were filled with crushed white chalk.

It is a still a mystery why this figure was created. We absolutely think it is grand and a wonderful tribute to the white horse.

“Before the gods that made gods had seen their sunrise pass, The White Horse of White Horse Vale was cut out in grass.” Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Prince Siddhartha’s White Horse

Prince Siddhartha who was to become Buddha and the founder of Buddhism owned a white horse named Kanthaka. The Prince loved his horse dearly.

It was Kanthaka who pulled the carriage when Siddhartha saw the four sights which in turn led him to flee the palace and his luxurious lifestyle.

The four sights were a very old man, a person who was extremely ill, a corpse and an ascetic. These four sights made a tremendous impression on the prince who had been shielded from all pain in the world.

He was determined to escape the palace and seek the truth about the cause of pain and suffering and he himself become an ascetic.

He rode Kanthaka the last time he left the palace. In safe distance from the palace he sent Kanthaka back with his faithful servant Channa.

Kanthaka, the white horse was later reincarnated as a brahmin and received enlightenment after attending talks with Gautama Buddha, his master in an earlier life.

The White Horse Temple in Luoyang, China

The White Horse Temple was the very first Buddhist temple to be built by officials in China. It was built in year 68.

This was during the Han Dynasty and Ming Di was Emperor of China. Luoyang was at that time the capital.

The Emperor was curious to find out more about Buddhism and sent a trusted member of staff to India in order that he might bring back more information.

The Chinese diplomat returned from India with two Buddhist monks and a white horse. The white horse carried the teachings of Buddha.

Ming Di, the Emperor was so awe-struck he built the first Buddhist temple. Naturally the temple was dedicated to the white horse who brought the gifts of Buddhism to China.

To this day there is a statue of the white horse on the temple grounds.

The White Horse Temple in Vietnam

The White Horse Temple called Bach Ma in Hanoi; Vietnam is claimed to be the oldest temple in Hanoi. It was originally built around the year 1010.

The king had ordered a temple to be built. Problems arose as the walls of the temple kept collapsing. The ground was too swampy and could not hold up the walls.

A legend tells the story that a white horse appeared before the king and with its hoofs marked the ground where the temple should be built. This temple was dedicated to the White Horse which showed the safe location to build a solid temple.

Kalki Will Arrive on a White Horse

Kalki on White Horse

Vishnu is one of the Hindu “Trinity”. He is the preserver of the universe. The other two are Shiva, the destroyer and Brahma, the creator.

Hindus are awaiting the arrival of Klaki. It is predicted that Kalki will arrive riding on a white horse called Devadatta.

When he does arrive, he will eliminate all sinners. He will then go on to reestablish dharma. The new golden age (Satya-yuga) will begin.

Prediction has it that this will happen at the end of the Kali-yuga. This is probably no time soon. Calculations have it that the Kali-yuga era will most probably end in 3102 BCE. By that time the world will be in a frightful state.

The previous avatars of Vishnu are:

  1. Matsya, The Fish 2. Kurma, The Turtle 3. Varaha, The Boar 4. Narashimha, The Half-man, half-lion 5. Vamana, The Dwarf 6. Parashurama, The Avenger 7. Rama, The Monarch 8. Krishna, The Cowherd 9. Buddha, The Teacher

And so, Hinduists can in the future expect the tenth avatar of Vishnu as Kalki, the Exterminator of all evil people and reinstating a good and harmonious world.

Jesus Arrives on a White Horse

In Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible you can read the vision describing how Jesus will return riding on a white horse. This is from chapter 19.

11. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. Revelation Chapter 19

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Also, in the book of Revelation in the Bible the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in chapter 6, verses 1-8.

The first horseman rides a white horse, he is the conqueror. It is not clear whether this horseman is Christ or Antichrist.

He is followed by a horseman riding a red horse symbolizing war.

Next in line is the third horseman riding a black horse, symbolizing famine.

Finally, the fourth horseman riding a black horse symbolizing death.

The Angel Gabriel and His White Horse

According to Islamic tradition God was extremely pleased with the Archangel Gabriel. To show His appreciation God gifted Gabriel a stunning white horse.

The name of Archangel Gabriel’s horse is Haizum. Haizum has wings and can fly from one world to the next in just seconds. This white horse is spectacular indeed.

Saint Eligus – Patron Saint of Horses

Saint Eligus

Saint Eligus, also known as Saint Eloi was born June 11, 588 and died December 1, 660. Eligus was appointed bishop of Noyon (a small town North-East of Paris) in the year 641.  

Not only was he a bishop, he was also a blacksmith and became a very talented goldsmith. He created masterpieces like two breathtaking thrones for the king.

Naturally he crafted loads of jewelry. Obviously, this work made the man tremendously wealthy.

Saint Eligus is connected to horses because of the famous legend of how he managed to shoe an extremely uncooperative horse.

The horse was restless and refused to stand still. Eligus became impatient with the horse. He wanted to get the work done.

Frustration got the better of him and without hesitation he cut off a leg of the horse. Now he could work in peace.

In the mean time the shocked horse stood quietly balancing on three legs.

When he finished shoeing the fourth hoof of the horse, he brought the loose leg over and held it up where it belonged on the horse.

Shocked spectators witnessed that the leg healed immediately. The horse trotted happily on its way on four healthy and strong legs. The work was completed.

Saint Eligus’s principal emblems is naturally the horseshoe. His feast day is December 1.

As he had great talent for making breathtaking jewelry and became wealthy, he is also patron saint of jewelers and coin collectors.

Alexander the Great and his Horse

Alexander the Great (356 BC –323 BC) owned probably the most famous horse of his time. His horse was named Bucephalus.

Pliny the Elder writes about Bucephalus in his works about Natural History. He describes the love Alexander had for his fierce and beautiful horse.

When Bucephalus wore Alexander’s saddle, he would allow no one else to ride him.

In battle the horse was fearless. Pliny the Elder describes one incident in the attack on Thebes. The horse was wounded, but even so Bucephalus carried on and would not permit Alexander to change horses.

Pliny the Elder writes that Alexander had purchased the horse for 16 talents. The horse’s name means “ox head”.

When Bucephalus died in the year 326 B.C. in the Battle of the Hydaspes, Alexander was grief stricken. Alexander himself led the funeral procession for Bucephalus.

He then went on founded a town and named it after his beloved horse. The name of the town was Alexandria Bucephalous. Scholars believe this town was located by Jhelum River in Northern India or Pakistan.

In front of Edinburgh’s City of Chambers, you will find a statue of Alexander taming his horse Bucephalus. A great statue is located on the Square of Alexander the Great in Pella, Greece. It shows Alexander riding Bucephalus and holding a statue of the goddess Nike in his hand.

In front of Edinburgh’s City of Chambers is another great statue of Alexander taming his horse Bucephalus

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