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Posted on Jul 22, 2016 in Articles

Equestrian Superstitions: Do you have any of these???

Equestrian Superstitions: Do you have any of these???


Many superstitions originated long ago when humans were attempting to understand nature.  Superstition was fear based and it relied on luck or magic to explain the in-explainable. Moreover, these superstitions were passed from generation to generation. Among the superstitions were some associated with horses.


Superstitions are in abundance in the horse world, and often differ from discipline to disciplines (the racing world in particular has a fascinating list of superstitions). I myself have fallen into the superstition trap – I have a pair of lucky socks! More recently I was told that if you see a feather in your path then pick it up and stick it in the ground this will give you good luck  ( feathers in your path are commonly  thought to relate to the angels)




Below are a few more common superstitions!

  • It’s unlucky to rename your horse.

name plate








  • Never wear anything new out competing.
  • should always be an even number of plaits, including the forelock, to avoid bad luck.
  • A white horse appearing in a dream for three successive nights indicated an elderly person would die, but if three white colts appeared, it meant a young person would die.
  • Green is an unlucky colour for equestrians
  • Saluting magpies on the way to events – One for sorrow, two for joy (three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told) (one for sorrow, two for mirth, three for a wedding, four for a birth, five for heaven, six for hell and seven you’ll see the devil himself)
  • There were also numerous superstitions related to white-legged horses. Some of these superstitions were good and others bad. For instance, it was considered lucky to own a horse with fore-legs that were equally “white-stockinged,” but if one fore and hind-leg on the same side were white, it was unlucky. In the neighborhood of Stokeinteignhead the following rhyme about horses with white legs was popular in the 1800s:

If you have a horse with four white legs, Keep him not a day;

If you have a horse with three white legs, Send him far away;

If you have a horse with two white legs, Send him to a friend;

If you have a horse with one white leg, Keep him to his end.

  • Some people also mistakenly thought that white-footed horses had weaker hooves than horses with darker ones. Similarly to white-legged horses, white-footed horses also had superstitions associated with them and it indicated bad or good luck, as demonstrated in the following rhyme:

    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.

  • Bad things happen in three’s
  • A horse found in its field all sweaty with a tangled and twisted mane and tail has spent the night being ridden by pixies.
  • Some people believed that dreaming about a black horse was the foretelling of an approaching wedding whereas other people believed it was “a sure sign of death.”
  • listening to a certain song on the way to shows or avoiding certain songs
  • Horse brasses, worn traditionally by heavy horses, ward off evil. This superstition is a little harder to trace. Some sources state that there is no superstition at all associated with horse brasses, while other sources state that the brightly polished decorations on workhorse harnesses were originally intended to protect the horse from evil. A more practical explanation traces its roots back to the ancient Romans, who hung pieces of armor off of horses’ tack to protect vital organs, such as the forehead, chest or kidneys. These are all the same areas where horse brasses are hung on a decorated harness — ­­the “kidney drop” that’s found on most show harnesses serves no other purpose for pulling a load. So in some respects, dating back to when the horse brass was used as armor, wearing one could indeed protect the horse from harm.









  • Seeing one white horse is bad luck (unless you are with your lover), but seeing two together brings good luck.
  • The shoe of a two-year-old filly placed in your butter churn will stop witches stealing your butter.
  • A bridegroom must carry a horseshoe in his pocket to ensure a happy marriage.
  •  One interesting horse superstition was related to the kelpie, or water kelpie, a malignant and otherworldly spirit that inhabited Scotland’s lochs and pools. It was claimed that the kelpie would assume the form of a horse to lure hapless, innocent travelers to ruin. Using his supernatural abilities, the kelpie would plunge through a flooded river and make it to the other side safely. This would convince unsuspecting travelers that the way was safe and they would follow, only to be swept away in the churning waters as the kelpie’s triumphant laughter rang in their ears at having seduced and deluded the traveler with his fiendish trick








  • Sometimes unusual or grey colored horses were said to matter. For instance, pie balds horses were popular with the London wayfarer. Where the idea came from is hard to say although one newspaper noted that “possibly the notion is akin to that which is so old…at home and abroad as to the magpies, whose foretelling vary according to the number in which they are seen, and the pied markings of horse and bird are very similar.” It was unclear if skewbald horses offered the same sort of luck, but unquestionably to some people the piebald did.
  • marrying couples often used grey horses to whirl them away from the chapel, possibly due to the belief that they offered protection against the evil influences of witches.
  •  A horseshoe is lucky if hung outside your home — the iron wards off evil spirits — but be careful to hang it the right way up, otherwise all your family’s good luck will drain out of it. For instance, Lancashire residents claimed horse shoes had the “power of destroying, or preventing, witchcraft,” and, in Scotland, the horse shoe was supposed to be thrown over the left shoulder if you wanted to secure good luck during the approaching month. At one time it was also considered lucky to take a horseshoe to sea. Hanging a horse shoe on a wall or door frame is said to bring good luck. Most cultural traditions agree that the shoe should be used,not new, and should be found rather than purchased ­­but different cultures disagree on the manner of which the shoe should be hung on the wall. Some traditions state that the shoe should be hung points up in order to fill up with good luck; other traditions state that the shoe should be hung points-­down so the luck can be poured down upon the owner. One origin story of this tradition stems from the legend of Saint Dunstan and the Devil. The Devil brought a horse to Dunstan to be shod; Dunstan, recognizing the Devil, nailed the shoe to the Devil’s foot instead of the horse’s, causing the Devil great pain. Before he would remove the shoe, Dunstan made the Devil promise that he would never enter a house upon which a horse shoe is hung.lucky horse shoe

Other horse cultures carry their own superstitions and beliefs: Native American tribes painted their horses with symbols and colors meant to protect them from harm or grant them certain powers; horses wear wool ropes in Turkmenistan believed to protect them (travelers also carry a similar rope with them in that country); horsemen in the Altai region of Russia believe that untangling a horse’s mane with your fingers rather than a comb brings good luck.


Happy Riding guys!! comment if you have or know of any other superstitions that is related to horses or that us equestrians do!!

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