I am not a superstitious person – in fact I revel in horrifying others by parading underneath ladders, crossing people on the stairs, and not saying my ‘white rabbits’ at the beginning of a new month. However – I seem to have somehow developed a little bit of superstition around a particular saddle cloth, a green saddle cloth.
Now, having done a little research I have learnt that green is considered some to be an unlucky colour. Prior to researching this, and the incident I’m going to refer to happening, I would have not said I would consider green to be unlucky – in fact I would have considered the opposite. Green to me is a colour that represents life, nature, general good stuff. Green is also the colour of a clover – when found with 4 little leaves/sprouts (not sure what to call them!) they are considered to be lucky.
I can’t find a definitive reason why green is considered unlucky, though have found information about it being unlucky in Celtic folklore as it was the colour associated with death and misfortune.
Anyway, I digress. When I selected my colour for Pinto’s wardrobe my instructor mentioned that my choice, bottle green, might be hard to come by as it was considered unlucky by many equestrians. Ever keen to not entertain this notion I went ahead and bought him a green saddle cloth and green lead rope, and other green accessories. Long story short, the first time he wore the green saddle cloth, I fell off him. I thought nothing of it at the time (more concerned with my sore backside) and carried on. But in the past few weeks I have noticed myself, when selecting my tack, considering the green saddle cloth, then dismissing it in favour of my well-used grey one, and then feeling guilty for not using the green one. It dawned on me that I have become superstitious about this saddle cloth, and I can’t forget that green is considered unlucky.
This then got me wondering, what else to equestrians consider unlucky, and why? After a bit of research I compiled quite a list! These are the ones I found most interesting, or could add my own experiences.
Changing a horses name
The general consensus on this is that you shouldn’t, even if you don’t like the name, it is bad luck to change a horses name. Lots of people can share experiences when they have changed a name and then that horse has caused them hefty vet bills, or has had an accident and become a field ornament, or worse PTS.
I considered changing Pinto’s name, but after some careful deliberation I decided against it, not because of the superstition (though I admit I would have wondered) but because I just couldn’t do it, though I wouldn’t have ever chosen ‘Pinto’ myself, it suits him, so Pinto it is.
Chestnuts, particularly mares
Chestnut mares are considered, on the whole, to be a handful. This seems to stem from the typical ‘hot-headed’ breeds, and their tendency to be Chestnut, in particular Arabs and TBs.
In reality I don’t think a horse can be judged by it’s colour, and though some coat colours almost certainly can be linked to undesirable traits or are particularly susceptible to certain ailments (greys & coloured horses and their increased sarcoid and general skin issues risk pops to mind), I don’t think a call can be made on a temperament purely on coat colour.
When I was younger and attending a riding school my favourite mount was a Chestnut Arab mare called Rose-Marie, and she also had 4 white stockings (shock horror! see my next point), though speedy and an excellent Gymkhana pony, she was safe and not a fruit loop.
This one was new to me, I have always been drawn to horses with white legs, I consider 4 white stockings/socks to be very attractive, especially on a Chestnut (my affection for Rose-Marie probably has something to do with this).
I came across this, and though there are regional variations on the exact wording, the message is the same:
Four white socks, keep him not a day
Three white socks, send him far away
Two white socks, give him to a friend
One white sock, keep him ’til the end
A horse in your house
I like this one, and would love to see the look on my husbands face if I did this. When you move into a new home, it is good luck to walk a horse through it. I’m not sure what he’d say to hoof prints on the cream carpets..
You can also undo the damage of breaking a mirror or spilling salt in your house by walking a horse through it.
I’ve come across this before in a book (Getting in Ttouch with your horse by Linda Tellington-Jones) about understanding horse personalities, and how certain coat patterns can give you some clue about a horse’s temperament and intelligence.
The first one I’m going to mention is a prophets thumb print, if a horse has one of these in their coat then it is considered lucky because it is considered to be a descendant of one of the Prophet Mohammed’s 5 mares. My instructors mare has one of these on her chest.
The second worth a mention are whorls – spirals in the coat pattern. These can occur anywhere, but are considered to be sign of intelligence when they are between the eyes.
That’s it, and I know I’m a little late.. but, White Rabbit, White Rabbit, White Rabbit!