Horses Symbolism and Meaning in Culture and Mythology

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.

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).

Start date                          End date                         

January 30, 1930              February 16, 1931           Metal Horse

February 15, 1942           February 4, 1943              Water Horse

February 3, 1954              January 23, 1955              Wood Horse

January 21, 1966              February 8, 1967              Fire Horse

February 7, 1978              January 27, 1979              Earth Horse

January 27, 1990              February 13, 1991           Metal Horse

February 12, 2002           January 31, 2003              Water Horse

January 31, 2014              February 18, 2015           Wood Horse

February 17, 2026           February 5, 2027              Fire Horse

February 4, 2038              January 23, 2039              Earth Horse

Epona – the 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 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 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.

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 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.

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