Horses have been around for, well, donkey’s years. They’re inextricably woven into the fabric and folklore of Britain — and many countries round the world, too. As it’s Friday 13th, what better time to round up a few horsey superstitions...
1. Never wear anything new out hunting or competing.
2. It’s unlucky to rename your horse.
3. Green is an unlucky colour for equestrians — and even a green handkerchief in the betting ring is considered to bring bad luck.
4. Seeing one white horse is bad luck (unless you are with your lover), but seeing two together brings good luck.
5. 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.
6. A bridegroom must carry a horseshoe in his pocket to ensure a happy marriage.
7. The shoe of a two-year-old filly placed in your butterchurn will stop witches stealing your butter. (A problem I’m sure many of us share…)
8. A horse neighing outside your door means your family will get sick. (This could be a problem if you keep your horses at home…)
9. Piebalds are lucky, skewbalds are unlucky.
10. You should do 13 plaits for geldings and 12 for mares…
11. …Although others believe it should always be an even number of plaits, including the forelock, to avoid bad luck.
12. A white horse appearing in a dream for three successive nights means an elderly person will die…
13. …Unless they’re three white colts, in which case a young person will die.
14. A horse found in its field all sweaty with a tangled and twisted mane and tail has spent the night being ridden by pixies.
15. Dun or buckskin horses are regarded as unlucky by the Bedoin, and also in Romania.
When you watch riders take part in disciplines other than yours, do you sometimes wonder quietly to yourself how they…
16. The Hungarians and Spanish think black horses are lucky – the French and Bedoin believe the reverse.
17. One white leg, buy him/Two white legs, try him/Three white legs, send him far away. (Sell him to your foes)/Four white legs, keep him not a day. (Feed him to the crows)
18. In some ancient cultures, vows taken on horseback had special sanctity and could never be broken.