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The public-house sign.

(1) The White Horse. The standard of the Saxons, and therefore impressed on hop pockets and bags as the ensign of Kent. On Uffington Hill, Berks, there is formed in the chalk an enormous white horse, supposed to have been cut there after the battle in which Ethelred and Alfred defeated the Danes (871). This rude ensign is about 374 feet long, and 1,000 feet above the sea-level. It may be seen twelve miles off.

(2) The galloping white horse is the device of the house of Hanover.

(3) The rampant white horse. The device of the house of Savoy, descended from the Saxons.

Horsfs Famous in History and Fable:

Abakur (Celtic). One of the horses of Sunna. The word means the “hot one.” (Scandinavian mythology.)

Abasʹter (Greek). One of the horses of Pluto. The word means “away from the stars” or “deprived of the light of day.”

Abʹatos (Greek). One of the horses of Pluto. The word means “inaccessible,” and refers to the infernal realm.

Abraxas (Greek). One of the horses of Auroʹra. The letters of this word in Greek make up 365, the number of days in the year.

Actæon (Greek, “effulgence”). One of the horses of the Sun.

Æthon (Greek, “fiery red”). One of the horses of the Sun.

Aʹeton. One of the horses of Pluto. Greek, “swift as an eagle.”

Agnes. (See below, Black Agnes.)

Alborak. (See Borak.)

Alfaʹna. Gradasso’s horse. The word means “a mare.” (Orlando Furioso.)

Aligeʹro Clavileʹno. The “wooden-pin wing-horse” which Don Quixote and his squire mounted to achieve the deliverance of Doloriʹda and her companions.

Alsviʹdur. One of the horses of Sunna. The word means “all scorching.” (Scandinavian mythology.)

Ametheʹa (Greek). One of the horses of the Sun. The word means “no loiterer.”

Aqʹuiline (3 syl.). Raymond’s steed, bred on the banks of the Tagus. The word means “like an eagle.” (Tasso: Jerusalem Delivered.)

Ariʹon (Greek). Herculesʹ horse, given to Adrasʹtos. The horse of Neptune, brought out of the earth by striking it with his trident; its right feet were those of a human creature, it spoke with a human voice, and ran with incredible swiftness. The word means “martial,” i.e. “war-horse.”

Arʹundel. The horse of Bevis of Southampton. The word means “swift as a swallow.” (French, hirondelle, “a swallow.”)

Arvaʹkur. One of the horses of Sunna. The word means “splendid.” (Scandinavian mythology.)

Aslo. One of the horses of Sunna. (Scandinavian mythology.)

Babieʹca (Spanish, “a simpleton”). The Cid’s horse. He survived his master two years and a half, during which time no one was allowed to mount him; and when he died he was buried before the gate of the monastery at Valencia, and two elms were planted to mark the site. The horse was so called because, when Rodrigo in his youth was given the choice of a horse, he passed by the most esteemed ones and selected a rough colt; whereupon his godfather called the lad babiéca (a dolt), and Rodrigo transferred the appellation to his horse.

Bajarʹdo. Rinaldo’s horse, of a bright bay colour, once the property of Amʹadis of Gaul. It was found by Malagiʹgi, the wizard, in a cave guarded by a dragon, which the wizard slew. According to tradition, it is still alive, but flees at the approach of man, so that no one can ever hope to catch him. The word means of a “bay colour.” (Orlando Furioso.)

Balʹios (Greek, “swift”). One of the horses given by Neptune to Peleus. It afterwards belonged to Achilles. Like Xanthos, its sire was the West-wind, and its dam Swift-foot the harpy.

Bayard. The horse of the four sons of Aymon, which grew larger or smaller as one or more of the four sons mounted it. According to tradition, one of the foot-prints may still be seen in the forest of Soignes, and another on a rock near Dinant. The word means “bright bay colour.”

Also the horse of FitzJames.

Stand, Bayard, stand! The steed obeyed

With arching neck, and bended head,

And glaring eye, and quivering ear,

As if he loved his lord to hear.”

Beʹvis. The horse of Lord Marʹmion. The word is Norse, and means “swift.” (Sir W. Scott.)

Black Agnes. The palfrey of Mary Queen of Scots, given her by her brother Moray, and named after Agnes of Dunbar, a countess in her own right.

Black Bess. The famous mare ridden by the highwayman Dick Turpin, which, tradition says, carried him from London to York.

Black Saladin. Warwick’s famous horse, which was coal-black. Its sire was Malech, and, according to tradition, when the race of Malech failed, the race of Warwick would fail also. And it was so.

Borak (Al). The “horse” which conveyed Mahomet from earth to the seventh heaven. It was milk-white, had the wings of an eagle, and a human face, with horse’s cheeks. Every pace she took was equal to the farthest range of human sight. The word is Arabic for “the lightning.”

Brigʹadore (3 syl.) or Brigliadore [Bril-yar-dore]. Sir Guyon’s horse, which had a distinguishing black spot in its mouth, like a horse-shoe in shape. (Spenser: Faërie Queene, v. 2.)

Brigliadoʹro [Bril-ya-doʹro]. Orlando’s famous charger, second only to Bayardo in swiftness and wonderful powers. The word means “golden-bridle.” (Orlando Furioso, etc.)

Bronte (2 syl.). One of the horses of the Sun. The word means “thunder.”

Bronzomarte (3 syl.). The horse of Sir Launcelot Greaves. The word means “a mettlesome sorrel.”

Brown Hal. A model pacing stallion.

Bucephʹalos (Greek). The celebrated charger of Alexander the Great. Alexander was the only person who could mount him, and he always knelt down to take up his master. He was thirty years old at death, and Alexander built a city for his mausoleum, which he called Bucephʹala. The word means “ox-head.”

Capilet (Grey). The horse of Sir Andrew Aguecheek. (Shakespeare: Twelfth Night, iii. 4.) A capilet or capulet is a small wen on the horse’s hock.

Carman. The Chevalier Bayard’s horse, given him by the Duke of Lorrain. It was a Persian horse from Kerman or Carmen (Laristan).

Ceʹler. The horse of the Roman Emperor Veʹrus. It was fed on almonds and raisins, covered with royal purple, and stalled in the imperial palace. (Latin for “swift.”)

Cerus. The horse of Adrastos, swifter than the wind (Pausanias). The word means “fit.”

Cesar. A model Percheron stallion.

Clavilēno. (See Aligero.)

Comrade (2 syl.). Fortunio’s fairy horse.

Copenhaʹgen. Wellington’s charger at Waterloo. It died in 1835 at the age of twenty-seven. Napoleon’s horse was Marengo.

Curtal (Bay). The horse of Lord Lafeu. (Shakespeare: All’s Well that Ends Well, ii. 3.) The word means “cropped.”

Cut. The carrier’s horse. (Shakespeare: 1 Henry IV., act ii. 1.) A familiar name of a horse. The word may be taken to mean either “castrated” or “cropped.”

Cylʹlaros (Greek). Named from Cylla, in Troas, a celebrated horse of Castor or of Pollux.

Dapple. Sancho Panza’s ass (in the History of Don Quixote de la Mancha, by Cervantes). So called from its colour.

Diʹnos (Greek). Diomed’s horse. The word means “the marvel.”

Dhuldul. The famous horse of Ali, son-in-law of Mahomet.

Doomstead. The horse of the Norns or Fates. (Scandinavian mythology.)

Eõos (Greek, “dawn”). One of the horses of Aurora.

Erythʹreos (Greek, “red-producer”). One of the horses of the Sun.

Ethon (Greek, “fiery”) One of the horses of Hector.

Fadda. Mahomet’s white mule.

Ferrant dʹEspagne. The horse of Oliver. The word means “the Spanish traveller.”

Fiddle-back. Oliver Goldsmith’s unfortunate pony.

Frontaletto. Sacripant’s charger. The word means “little head.” (Ariosto: Orlando Furioso.)

Frontiʹno or Frontin. Once called “Balisarda.” Rogeʹro’s or Rugieʹro’s horse. The word means “little head.” (Ariosto: Orlando Furioso, etc.)

Galʹathē (3 syl.). One of Hector’s horses. The word means “cream-coloured.”

Giblas. A model German coach stallion.

Granē (2 syl.). Siegfried’s horse, of marvellous swiftness. The word means “grey-coloured.”

Grey Capilet. (See Capilet.)

Grizzle. Dr. Syntax’s horse, all skin and bone. The word means “grey-coloured.”

Haïzʹum. The horse of the archangel Gabriel. (Koran.)

Harʹpagos (Greek, “one that carries off rapidly.”) One of the horses of Castor and Pollux.

Hipʹpocamʹpēs (4 syl.). One of Neptune’s horses. It had only two legs, the hinder quarter being that of a dragon’s tail or fish.

Honest Tom. A model shire stallion, 1105.

Hrimfaxi. The horse of Night, from whose bit fall the “rime-drops” which every night bedew the earth [i.e. frostmane]. (Scandinavian mythology.)

Ilderim. A model Arabian stallion.

Incitaʹtus. The horse of the Roman Emperor Caligʹula, made priest and consul. It had an ivory manager, and drank wine out of a golden pail. The word means “spurred on.”

Jenny Geddes (1 syl.). Robert Burns’s mare.

Kanʹtaka. The white horse of Prince Gautăma of India (Budda).

Kelpy or Kelpie. The water-horse of fairy mythology. The word means “of the colour of kelp or sea-weed.”

Kervela. A model French coach stallion, 1342.

Lampon (Greek, “the bright one”). One of the horses of Diomed.

Lampos (Greek, “shining like a lamp”). One of the steeds of the Sun at noon.

Lamri. King Arthur’s mare. The word means “the curveter.”

Leiston. A model Suffolk stallion, 1415.

Leonatus. A model thorough-bred stallion.

Marenʹgo. The white stallion which Napoleon rode at Waterloo. Its remains are now in the Museum of the United Services, London. It is represented in Vernet’s picture of Napoleon Crossing the Alps. Wellington’s horse was called Copenhagen.

Matchless of Londesborough. A model hackney stallion.

Malech. (See Black Saladin.)

Marocco. Banks’s famous horse. Its shoes were of silver, and one of its exploits was to mount the steeple of St. Paul’s.

Molly. Sir Charles Napier’s mare. It died at the age of 35.

Nobbs. The steed of Dr. Dove of Doncaster. (Southey.)

Nonios. One of the horses of Pluto.

Oreʹlia. The charger of Roderick, last of the Goths, noted for its speed and symmetry. (Southey.)

Pale Horse (The) on which Death rides. (Rev. vi. 8.)

Palo Alto. A model trotting stallion.

Passe Brewell. Sir Tristram’s charger. (Hist. of Prince Arthur, ii. 68.)

Pegʹasos. The winged horse of Apollo and the Muses. (Greek, “born near the pēge or source of the ocean.”) Perseus rode him when he rescued Andromeda.

Phaʹeton (Greek, “the shining one”). One of the steeds of Auroʹra.

Phallas. The horse of Heracʹlios. The word means “stallion.”

Phlegʹon (Greek, “the burning or blazing one”). One of the horses of the Noon-day Sun.

Phreʹnicos. The horse of Hiero, of Syracuse, that won the Olympic prize for single horses in the seventy-third Olympiad. It means “intelligent.”

Podarʹge (3 syl.). One of the horses of Hector. The word means “swift-foot.”

Prince Royal. A model Belgian stallion.

Puʹroeis [puʹ-rŏ-ice]. One of the horses of the Noon-day Sun. (Greek, “fiery hot.”)

Rabicaʹno or Rabʹican. Argaliʹa’s horse in Orlando Innamorato, and Astolpho’s horse in Orlando Furioso. Its dam was Fire, its sire Wind; it fed on unearthly food. The word means a horse with a “dark tail but with some white hairs.”

“Rabicano (adj.), que se applica al caballo que tiene algunas cerdas blancas in la cola.”—Salva: Spanish Dictionary.

Reksh. Rustem’s horse.

Rimfaxi. (See Hrimfaxi.)

Roan Barbary. The favourite horse of King Richard II.

“When Bolingbroke rode on Roan Barbary,

That horse that thou so often hast bestrid.”

Shakespeare: Richard II., v. 5.

Ronald. Lord Cardigan’s thoroughbred chestnut, with white stockings on the near hind and fore feet. It carried him through the Balaclava Charge.

Rosʹabelle (3 syl.). The favourite palfrey of Mary Queen of Scots.

Rosinanʹte (4 syl.). Don Quixote’s horse, all skin and bone. The word means “formerly a hack.”

Rosʹsignol. The palfrey of Madame Châtelet of Cirey, the lady with whom Voltaire resided for ten years.

Royalty. A model Cleveland bay stallion.

Saladin. (See Black Saladin.)

Savoy. The favourite black horse of Charles VIII. of France; so called from the Duke of Savoy who gave it him. It had but one eye, and “was mean in stature.”

Shibʹdiz. The Persian Bucephʹalos, fleeter than the wind. It was the charger of Chosroes II. of Persia.

Skinfaxi. The steed which draws the car of day. The word means “shining mane.” (Scandinavian mythology.)

Sleipnir (Slipeʹneer). Odin’s grey horse, which had eight legs and could traverse either land or sea. The horse typifies the wind which blows over land and water from eight principal points.

Sorrel. The horse of William III., which stumbled by catching his foot in a mole-heap. This accident ultimately caused the king’s death. Sorrel, like Savoy, was blind of one eye, and “mean of stature.”

Spumador. King Arthur’s horse. The word means “the foaming one.”

Strymon. The horse immolated by Xerxes before he invaded Greece. Named from the river Strymon, in Thrace, from which vicinity it came.

Suleiman. The favourite charger of the Earl of Essex.

Tachebrune (q.v.). The horse of Ogier the Dane.

Treʹbizond. The grey horse of Admiral Guariʹnos, one of the French knights taken at Roncesvallēs.

Vegliantiʹno [Vail-yan-teʹ-no]. The famous steed of Orlando, called in French romance Veillantif, Orlando being called Roland. The word means “the little vigilant one.”

White Surrey. The favourite horse of King Richard III.

Saddle White Surrey for the field to-morrow.”

Shakespeare: Richard III., v. 3.

Wzmakh. A model Orloff stallion.

Wooden Horse. (See Wooden.)

Xanthos. One of the horses of Achilles, who announced to the hero his approaching death when unjustly chidden by him. Its sire was Zephyros, and dam Podargē (q.v.). The word means “chestnut-coloured.”

OʹDonohue’s white horse. Those waves which come on a windy day, crested with foam. The spirit of the hero reappears every May-day, and is seen gliding, to sweet but unearthly music, over the lakes of Killarney, on his favourite white horse. It is preceded by groups of young men and maidens, who fling spring-flowers in his path. (Derrick’s Letters.)

T. Moore has a poem on the subject in his Irish Melodies, No. vi.; it is entitled OʹDonohue’s Mistress, and refers to a tradition that a young and beautiful girl became enamoured of the visionary chieftain, and threw herself into the lake that he might carry her off for his bride.


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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Horrors (The)
Hors de Combat (French)
¶ Horse
Horse (in Christian art)
¶ Horse
¶ Horse
Horse Latitudes
Horse Marines (The)