Symbolism of the Horse – Weekly Photo Challenge

“Symbols are miracles we have recorded into language.”

S.Kelley Harrell

(5 Photos)



This week Jen has asked us to illustrate something symbolic. No doubt by clicking here for the responses of some other bloggers, you will see a wide array of choices. Personally, I’ve chosen to feature an animal whose genesis goes back even further than mankind itself, the horse.



“However expressive, symbols can never be the things they stand for.”

Aldous Huxley

Beyond capturing our hearts and our imagination, horses have helped shape human history. For over 3,000 years horses were key to success in warfare until they were eventually replaced by modern weaponry.  Consider the legend of the Trojan Horse, now symbolic of a secretive approach to undermining an enemy – or even a secretive program intended to destroy your computer operating system. From there through the ages to powerful images of horse-mounted cavalry, such as the Charge of the Light Brigade and the battle at Little Big Horn. WWI was effectively the last time horses were used extensively in battle. Who can forget the heartbreak of the recent movie and Broadway show War Horse which illustrated so beautifully the strength of the bond between humans and horses, and the amazing heart a horse will show in its willingness to satisfy the demands of its human counterparts.



Horses and children, I often think, have a lot of the good sense there is in the world.”

Josephine Demott Robinson

To Native Americans the horse was a symbol of power. The more horses a tribe had, the more powerful they were deemed to be. Horses are also seen as symbolic of freedom, because riding a horse makes one feel as if any restraining bonds can be broken. In Celtic mythology, horses symbolized good luck and were harbingers of good fortune. The Chinese include the horse as one of the 12 symbols of their zodiac, and they are frequent participants in some of the most important Chinese myths and legends.



 The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.

Arab Proverb

Beyond the pleasures we derive from the many qualities of the horse, we are also developing an understanding of what an extremely effective therapeutic tool they are for those with physical or emotional disabilities. Successful programs are now in place throughout the U.S., reporting some wonderful results with both children and adults. It seems right somehow that the horse should be respected and appreciated for yet another contribution to the lives of its human companions.



“A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, beautiful – giving us escape from our mundane existence.”

Pam Brown

I captured these beautiful creatures last month as I was driving through Seabrook Island, which is the next-island neighbor to Kiawah.  As I was about to drive past their horse pasture, the early evening light combined with the peacefulness of the setting made me stop in my tracks. After I’d spent a few minutes just watching, several of the horses approached to check me out and within a moment or two were licking my proffered hand and allowing me to pat their heads and necks. From there, photographing them became a natural next step and once they had assured themselves my lens and I meant no harm they happily went about their evening graze as I shot to my heart’s content.

Throughout history horses have symbolized strength, loyalty, power, nobility, and freedom among other positive attributes. They have an important symbolic presence in all cultures and in all countries both ancient and current. Would that we all deserved such an impressive place in history!

88 thoughts on “Symbolism of the Horse – Weekly Photo Challenge

  1. Pingback: birth |100 Emotions (a sketching challenge) | Ramisa the Authoress

  2. Fantastic horse photos. When a rider has that bond with their horse, the horse will do practically anything that’s asked of them. Some of the best horsemen and horsewomen are those who could meet a horse, then ride them the next second like they’ve being riding together for a long while.

  3. Beautiful shots Tina, especially the last one. Graceful creatures, aren’t they? I’ve always felt landscape shots somehow look incomplete without the presence of a horse in the frame:)

    • I saw it in NYC on Broadway but had read the book first. Was glad I’d done so because it made the story so much more meaningful for me! Appreciate your stopping by!!

  4. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol – Maria Jansson Photography

  5. Oh, you have definitely chosen the most heart warming symbol! Your photos are superior and your research and delightful summaries add to the magical mystique of the beautiful horse.

  6. Pingback: Old Volcano | litadoolan

  7. Yes, the strength power and nobility of a horse goes far back in time. The art of your photos and words illustrate this beautiful animal, and it is the eye of a horse that often captures my attention when I am around horse (nothing quite like looking deep into their eyes), but I also like seeing them from a different perspective so much enjoyed in “the blink of an eye” photo. Wonderful and honorable post to a great animal ~

    • Thank you Randall, it was lovely to be among them as they were quite comfortable with my presence and seemed genuinely happy with their place in the world. We could definitely learn from them don’t you think?!

  8. Such astounding captures, Tina. Can’t pick a favourite, all of them are really wonderfully shot. The horses must have really welcomed you – the one in the second photo really didn’t mind staring at your lens head on. Love Pam Brown’s quote. Never thought of horses that way. But so true. Don’t we all long to stand tall like a horse, gallop free in the vast plains and basically soaking up the sun 😀

  9. What a great choice for the challenge. Lovely pics & beautiful light. I like the darkness & light shot, makes me feel I’d like to know more about those two horses’ relationship.

    • Thanks Maamej, I was wondering the same thing. It seemed to me that the black horse had a bad eye, perhaps the white one was leading him? They seemed very close with one another.

    • Thanks so much Linda – yes watching my granddaughter ride was really a joy for me too, and really took me back to when I was learning to ride at just about her age. They are amazing animals aren’t they?!

  10. Horses are the symbolic beauty of nature, I love the movie named Seabiscuit about a fantastic red hair horse looks very alike the one with white mark in forehead in your photo 🙂

  11. How amazing that you selected horses for this theme, Tina. In our Toastmaster meeting this week, one of our members talked about Sgt Reckless, a Mongolian Horse who was a true hero in the Korean War. This gave me goose bumps. Beautiful photos, just beautiful.

    • Well how’s that for a serendipitous coincidence?! I loved the story of War Horse who was also a hero in WWI. Animals are so much more than we’ve given them credit for, arent’ they?

  12. What a wonderful post. I really learned some interesting facts — might be good for a “horse category” on my favorite quiz show. 🙂

  13. I love your choice (and execution) of the horse as symbol. They are very special animals and you’ve captured many of the qualities that make them so. Have you been to Chincoteague and/or Assateague? They are magical places for horse lovers and not terribly far from you.

  14. Love the horse photos. My stereotypical view of the south is large expanse of grass, large white sections of fencing and lots of beautiful horses. Your photos are reinforcing my stereotype. 🙂

    • 😄 Definitely part of life in the south John – among other things of course! Your description sounds more like Kentucky but there are definitely such places down here as well. Thanks for popping in!

  15. You again have done a fine job of covering a big topic in a few short paragraphs (with photos!) and giving all of us food for thought. Thanks!

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