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Horse sayings


Putting the Cart Before the horse


Things need to be done in the correct order

Champing at the Bit


To be keen or eager to get on and do something. To be frustrated by delay or restraint. The origin of the expression is the tendency of horses to champ at their bit when nervous or being held back.

Dark Horse


Originally a racing term to describe a horse which wins a race despite being less well known than the other horses in the race. Also used in the sense of someone who might win a competition even though they are not the favourite. For example 'He isn't well known but I think he has a good chance of winning; he is a bit of a dark horse.'.

Work Like a Horse


To work very hard, or long hours, or both.


Eats Like a Horse


To eat a lot.


Horse Around


To engage in childish play or frivolous activity. For example 'Stop horsing around and get back to work’

From the Horse's Mouth


To hear something direct from the person concerned or responsible, rather than second-hand information. The saying originally came from horse racing, where it was believed that the best tips came from the people working with the horses, so if one hears it from the horse itself then the information is even more direct and certain.

Hold Your Horses


A request to wait. For example 'I know that you want to leave immediately, but please hold your horses.' It is often used when someone is rushing into something, without sufficient thought or preparation, in which case it is not only requesting that someone wait but also that they are more careful with a decision or action.

High Horse


An attitude of arrogant superiority. For example 'Get off your high horse, you are no better than us'. The expression comes from the time when mainly the upper class rode horses, so someone on a horse would act arrogant and superior when dealing with the average person and of course be higher than the average person both literally and socially.

Horses for Courses


One needs to use the correct tool, person or approach for the situation. The expression originates in horse racing, where there are different types of courses (e.g. short versus long, flat versus jumping) and each type of course requires a different type of horse, so a horse which does well in one type of course would not be suitable for another.

'Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.'


Meaning that one should accept a gift gratefully rather than criticizing it for being imperfect. The expression comes from the fact that one used to examine a horse's teeth to evaluate its age and health (in other words, its value). So, to look a gift horse in the mouth would be to question the value of a gift.

Ride Roughshod Over


To treat someone harshly and without concern for their welfare. A roughshod horse was one that still had nails sticking out of its shoes (perhaps to improve traction on soft ground) so being rode over by a roughshod horse would be a particularly painful and damaging experience.


You can lead a horse to water but can't make it drink


You can give someone good advice but you can't make them take it. The expression comes from the fact that horses will often not drink unfamiliar water (e.g. if they are away from home), even if they are thirsty and need to drink.

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