What Does A Horse Symbolize?

Last Updated on January 26, 2022

Horses can be found all throughout history, literature, and culture and can mean a variety of different things to different people. What does a horse symbolize?

What Do Horses Represent?

Horses have always been a huge part of history. They became a major part of early human lives. People used them to travel, to assist with heavy work, and to go into battle with.

Stories of horses have been passed down for generations, finding their way into fables, mythology, and literature.

Since horses are intertwined so much with human history, many people wonder- what does the horse symbolize?

The first thing that people associate with horses is Freedom. Horses originally were creatures who roamed free. Before humans started to capture and train them, herds of wild horses were untouched. Many people associate wanting to break free from the confines of their daily obligations with a horse wanting to break free and run wild.

What Do Horses Represent

Horseback riding is also associated with a feeling of freedom. Riding gives people a chance to set their minds free, forget their cares, and focus on the animal. The image of riding a horse off into the sunset is a popular ending to stories in film. Who hasn’t longed for the freedom that would bring?

Another idea the horse symbolizes is Nobility. When horses became domesticated around 6,000 years ago, they were seen as a sign of luxury. It was common for poor farmers to have workhorses, but the rich and powerful loved to collect the finest horses in great numbers.

Many historical figures had horses who are still famous to this day. Alexander the Great had Bucephalus, a favorite stallion of his that he rode into battle with after retraining him himself. Napoleon Bonaparte rode Marengo, a small but courageous horse that was named after the battle in which he carried Napoleon to safety.

These famous horses are still known today, representing nobility throughout history. Even today horseback riding is seen as a sport that the upper-class participates in.

Horse Symbols In Different Cultures

Horses can also symbolize different things depending on the culture of different locations.

The Celtic people have had a long history with the meanings of horses. Horses were so important to them that they were often associated with several gods, including the sun god. They valued horses as used for work, transportation, and helped them make huge advances in hunting and war. Thus the horse became their symbol for victory and longevity.

In the Hindu culture, horses are viewed as gifts from God. This gives horses a “divine” status in the Hindu religion.  Many horses are present in the stories of Hindu mythology. A white horse is even believed to be the final reincarnation of Vishnu. In this culture, horses symbolize light, loyalty, and power.

Horses are also rich in Chinese culture. There are many types of horses in their mythology as well, and horses are viewed as symbols of love, endurance, and stability.

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Horse Symbols In Literature – What Does A Horse Symbolize

Horses are often a common theme in literature. They often play supporting characters to humans. At times they are the main character- such as in Black Beauty.

So what does a horse symbolize in literature? Authors use horses in many different ways to symbolize emotions, relationships, and history.

In different time periods, it was common for people to have horses. The horses they owned may give clues to the reader on their social status, or the employment they had. Horses were also used in war times play a big part in battle stories.

Connections to their horses were also a way that a reader could humanize their main character. The natural connection between man and animals is a theme that is commonly used in literature and art, as horses can mirror the emotions that man has. In this way, stories often use horses to symbolize sensitivity, strength, bravery, and stubbornness.

The Horse, the Wheel, and Language

A protagonist who is strong and brave may have a similar horse- one who is ready to run into battle. Another shy character likely has a timid horse. Since the horse can be an extension of the character, authors often use these descriptions to teach us more about the human side of their stories.

Children can easily relate to animals. Authors will use horses to connect with young readers, often teaching life lessons through their eyes. Many beloved children’s books have horses as main characters, including Misty of Chincoteague and The Black Stallion.

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What Do Different Colors of Horses Symbolize?

Different colors of horses can also mean different things. We have all heard of the hero riding on a white horse. Why is this so common? White symbolizes light, sun, and power. Often heroes are bringing hope and justice, something that white represents well.

On the other side of things, the villain is often seen on a black horse. Black represents power and strength, but can also symbolize fear, mystery, and death.

The Bible even talks about the four horsemen of the apocalypse, whose colors are described in detail and symbolize different things.

The first horse is white and is ridden by Jesus, who is acting as a warrior to bring justice to the earth. The color of the horse symbolizes fair judgment, as the Bible often used white to symbolize righteousness.

The next horse is described as “firey-colored.” This red-colored horse symbolizes warfare, as its rider takes peace away from the world.

What Do Different Colors of Horses Symbolize

Next comes a back horse, which represents famine. The Bible talks about how people will be facing famines and food shortages in the times of the end.

Finally comes a “pale” looking horse. This horse represents the loss of life through plagues and other means. It is said that the grave closely follows this horse.

Many scholars have studied these four horsemen, and their colors have been used throughout history to symbolize similar events.

What Does A Horse Symbolize?

What does a horse mean? The answer to this question was not a simple one, as horses have had a huge influence on many cultures. Each has its own take on what horses mean to them. Although broad, the meanings of horses are an interesting study and the answer ends up being very personal to each individual.