Horses: Past and Present, Symbols of Power and Freedom

Horses: Past and Present, Symbols of Power and Freedom

Published On: 03-25-2012 07:23pm

Comments: 7 - Hits: 0

Category: History of . . .

Ever since I took my first horseback ride at the age of 4, I have had a deep love of all things horse.  As a young kid, I probably read every horse book published, collected horse knick knacks and tried to convince my parents that stabling a horse in our car port was a great idea!  As I got older, I was always plotting a way to get my next horseback ride, which usually involved hopping on my bike and pedaling out a few miles to Henry Allen and Annie's ranch to ride their very tame horse, Brownie.  When my parents bought a small ranch in the Texas Hill Country, I was in heaven because I now could have a horse.  Golden Angel, a palomino colored quarter horse, was a constant companion for several years until college loomed.  It broke my heart to sell her to help pay for tuition but she went to a very loving home.  To get my horse "fix", I ran horseback programs at several summer camps for 10+ years, sometimes being in charge of 30 head, each with their very own personalities.  What a glorious time it was!  Unfortunately these days, my time around horses is very limited - but they are still a great love.

This pencil drawing of a horse head by Lara Mogensen captures the beauty of a horse exquisitely!  It can be found in Dottie's studio, LarkStudios

Just like in my own life, horses have been an important part of human history for at least 35,000 years.  Due to the horse's close companionship with man, in transportation, war and agriculture, the horse has long been a symbol of power to most cultures, an emblem of a strong life force and freedom.  Horse symbols, painted in caves and carved on hillsides (White Horse of Uffington) date back to prehistory.  The first written record of a horse was found on slate tablets in Elam (in present day Irag and Iran) from the third millenium BC.  Many historians say that no other animal has contributed more to the spread of civilization than the horse.

Gorgeous solid copper ring with a horse head and two running horses, handmade by WesternStarGifts.

Horses have played an important role in the beliefs of most cultures world wide.  The horse is seen as extending the physical abilities of its rider and playing an important part of the hero's quest.  I found these pats and present beliefs very interesting and wanted to share:

***  The Celts believed the horse was born of noble blood and viewed the horse as belonging to the sun god; the horse was also associated with war, victory and longevity.  The Celtic goddess Epona was the protector of horses, donkeys and other animals and was a goddess of fertility, re-birth and abundance.  She is often depicted with a horse on each side of her.  

***  Greco-Roman myths also associated the horse with war and its spoils, to power, victory, honor and virility.  Believed to be a symbol of the continuity of life, every October the Romans would sacrifice a horse to the god of war, Mars.  The sacrificed horse's tail would be kept through the winter as a sign of fertility and rebirth.  Although originally a Celtic goddess. Epona was also accepted by the Romans who saw her as a protector of their cavalry.   

Creator, a regal red Thoroughbred stallion, is the subject of this beautiful photograph by LibertyImages.

***  Buddhists believe that Buddha left Earth riding a white horse.  A winged horse is also often shown as carrying the Book of Law.

***  In the Hindu "Brihadaranyaka", the horse is linked to Varuna, the lord of heaven and earth.  In addition, a white horse is believed to be the last incarnation of Vishnu. 

***  In Egyptian, Greek, Armenian, Norse and Hindu mythologies, horses pull the sun, and sometimes the moon, across the sky.

Stunning "Horse of the Wind" running in a starry night, sterling and brass brooch by SacredSparks.

***  Al Borak, a horse with the head of a woman and the wings of an eagle, is said to have taken Mohammed to Seventh Heaven.  It is believed that when the time comes, Mohammed will return to Earth on a white horse. 

***  Native Americans believed the horse combines the grounded power of the Earth with the wisdom found in the spirit winds.  Considered wild and an emblem of freedom, horses were honored as helpers and messengers.  Native Americans also realized that only with mutual respect could the wild freedom of the horse be harnessed and used to benefit of the tribe.  Plains Indians often referred to their horses as "Sky Dogs" because of their extreme cultural importance.  

Magnificent Man O'War counted cross stitch digital download pattern by Julie of bluemorningexpressions.

*** The Chinese zodiac states that the characteristics of a person born in the Year of the Horse are: adaptable, loyal, courageous, ambitious, intelligent, adventurous and strong.
***  The New Testament's Book of Revelations foretells that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will usher in the end of the world, the second coming of the Christ and the vanquishing of all evil.  Jesus  is prophesied to return on a white horse.

Fascinating piece, a beautiful hand painted horse on canvas pony tail holder by Connie of HosslassArt.

Not all horses, however, have been portrayed as noble and good:

***  Scottish and Irish tales tell of the Each Uisqe, a supernatural water horse that feeds on human flesh.

***  In the Phillipines, the Tikbalang, usually with the head and feet of a horse, is said to lead travelers astray, getting them utterly lost in the remote forests of the mountains.  To counteract the power of a Tikbalang, a person about to embark on a trip must wear his/her shirt turned inside out.  

*** The Mares of Diomedes (a king of Thrace) were four wild, uncontrollable man-eating horses.  Alexander the Great's much loved war horse, Bucephalus, was said to have descended from these mares. 

Exotic horse fabric turned into a zippered coin purse by HandmadebyMomNMe.

These fabulous handmade horse art pieces were taken from my newest collection, called "Horses: Symbols of Power and Freedom".  Here are other wonderful items from the collection:

Look at the amazing detail in this original hand-tooled leather purse bylovejoycreations!

The love of a girl for their horse (and vice versa).  This fabulous photo is by CardstockEquine.

Add a wild and free look to you next cake with the fun horse cake toppers by LulusCupcakeBoutique.

Beautiful hand crafted horse belt buckle in white bronze, copper or sterling silver by Paxton of PaxtonJewelry.

Rustic, Celtic-inspired "Epona" pendant necklace by Catherine of ShadowDogDesigns.  

I hope you enjoyed this post highlighting some interesting beliefs about horses through the ages and jewelry from my recent horse collection.  I could have gone on and on, so much fascinating material out there, but will leave it at this :)  Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.  Thank you for stopping by. 

My contact information:
Artfire studio:  ShadowDogDesigns
Supadupa shop:  Shadow Dog Designs
Twitter:  ShadowDogDesign
Pinterest:  Shadow Dog Designs

Reader's Comments

By LibertyImages on 03/27/2012 @ 09:50pm

Wow, this was a terrific post! I really enjoyed reading it, being a horse lover myself. Thank you again for featuring my portrait of Creator. Off to mention this wonderful piece in my blogs!

By Guest on 03/26/2012 @ 03:32pm

What a wonderful way to highlight artists. Thank you. So glad you mentioned my nephew Paxton's sterling silver buckles. :-)

By HosslassArt on 03/26/2012 @ 11:57am

Wow, what an amazing blog post, I am blown away! I loved the heartfelt way you have expressed yourself about the kindred love us "horse crazy girls" share and as artisans create with passion! Thank you so much, I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I am very touched for including my art as a reference for your blog! In fact, I wrote a blog post in my studio about this blog post as well, God I just had to share it! :) ..... Connie

By ShadowDogDesigns on 03/25/2012 @ 11:24pm

Thank you so much, Linda! I got a huge smile on my face when I read about you galloping through the yard with a yarn tail, pretending to be a horse. Sssshhhh . . .don't tell anyone, but I did the same thing :) Have a feeling all of us horse lovers did that at one point! Many thanks for stopping by and sharing your story! Peace and joy . . . Catherine

By Sacred_Sparks on 03/25/2012 @ 10:28pm

My Goodness, Catherine! This is a wonderful Blog, so informative and loving, with that personal touch of sharing yourself. I too read every horse book I could get my hands on back in my teen years. I spent my allowance on on horses that I purchased each week at the local gift shop. I accumulated quite a collection of plastic and porcelain horses. I loved each and every one of them. I even pretended that I was a horse and galloped around the back yard with a yarn tail. I was a true fanatic horse nut. Alas, I didn't get to have my own horse or even ride one very often. But my imaginative mind kind of replaced anything I lacked. Thanks so much for this. ... Linda

By ShadowDogDesigns on 03/25/2012 @ 10:12pm

Thank you, CardstockEquine! I found the info very fascinating. Could have added a lot more, but I was getting REALLY hungry and wanted to finish! LOL! Thank you for stopping by and commenting! Peace and joy . . . Catherine

By CardstockEquine on 03/25/2012 @ 10:00pm

Oh I love this blog article! There was some neat stuff regarding horses from around the world! Thank you!

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