Howdy! How many expressions about horses can you name? In this post (the first of two!), we’ll explore phrases with their origins in horseback riding or horse racing.
A burr under one’s saddle - A source of irritation that won’t go away
Free rein - The freedom to do as one pleases
To get back in the saddle - To return to an activity that one previously struggled with or suffered harm while completing. This expression refers to getting back on a horse after one falls off it.
To get a leg up - To receive a boost, support, or encouragement. This expression suggests someone sticking out their hands for another person to use as a step for mounting a horse.
To keep a tight rein on - To maintain strict control over someone or something
To loosen the reins - To loosen your control over someone or something
To put someone through his or her paces - To make someone demonstrate how well he or she can perform tasks. This expression refers to a person requesting to see a horse display its different gaits before deciding to buy it.
To rein in - To start to control something, such as one’s spending, more strongly
To ride two horses at the same time - To try to do two things at the same time, even though those activities may conflict with each other
Dark horse - An individual or team that performs unexpectedly well in a competition, usually a sports competition. In the Victorian era, “dark” meant anything that was unknown, so a dark horse was an unknown horse that won a race.
One-horse race - A competition with only one participant likely to win. You also might come across the term “two-horse race,” meaning that there are two candidates who are likely to win.
Straight from the horse’s mouth - To receive information directly from its source. Members of horse racing circles like to receive information from those who have interacted most recently with a horse, like its trainer, to guess which horse will win. The ideal situation for these folks would be to receive information straight from the horse’s mouth.
To bet on the wrong horse - To support a person or effort that ends up failing
To champ at the bit - To be anxious to do something. This expression refers to the way that impatient horses tend to chew on their bit before the start of a race.
To have no horse in a race - To not care about, or be affected by, the outcome of something
To win by a nose (or whisker) - To win by only the smallest amount possible. This expression refers to a finish so close in horse racing that only part of one horse’s nose - or even its whisker - crosses the finish line before the next horse.
Do you have a favourite expression related to riding or racing? Let us know in the comments!
Hello, My name is Shelby Gatti, and I am the owner of Shelby Ranch. I love being able to share my passion for animals with you and your family. At Shelby Ranch you can expect a ton of family adventure from horseback riding to mechanical bull riding & axe throwing.