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Three-Legged Horses

Updated on November 10, 2016

Three legged horses may be born with this malformation or suffer from an amputation. in both cases a prosthetic limb may be able to help them live a normal life. Three legged horses also occur in mythology ans symbolism where they generally have a negative meaning.

Congenital Conditions

Horses generally cope very poorly with being born missing all or part of a leg. Horse born with this condition or this seriously injured generally die or are euthanized, very few pictures of them exist. One example being the vintage postcard shown below.

Sadly many foals born with partial or missing limbs are not able to survive, such as this three legged foal (2010), also pictured here.


However they can be fitted with a prosthetic leg. There are several example of horses who performed very well with equine fake legs. Some examples are given below.

Midnite (2011): Midnite is a miniature horse was rescued from a neglecture owner and fitted with a prosthetic at a rescue ranch.

Molly (2010): Appaloosa Molly was injured during hurricane Katrina (see video below). She is also the subject of a children's book called Molly the Pony.

Cheyenne (2009): Cheyenne is a Tennessee Walking Horse who lost a leg after being tangled in barbed wire.

Riley (2008): Riley's leg had to be amputated to save her life, but a prosthetic leg allowed her to live is like any other horse!

Peggy (1963): Peggy was a Shetland Pony who lost a forelimb on a wire fence and was fitted with a false leg.


These horses are not only symbols of perseverance and will to go on, but also the lengths their owners are willing to go to in caring for their animals.

In Mythology

Three Footed Horse

In Jamaica there is a mythical 'three footed horse'. This is a 'duppy' or supernatural creature whose breath is deadly poison. The three footed horse is sometimes ridden by another duppy called the whooping boy. they travel on moonlit nights and are death to any who meet them on the road.


Helhest means "hell horse" in Danish. It is said to have three legs and seeing it is a bad omen, often meaning someone would die.

18th century print (public domain)
18th century print (public domain)

Symbolic of:

Lack of Attention: a print called "how to ride a three legged horse" (see right) mocks a Reverned who perhaps indulged in too much drink and did not notice for some time that his horse was walking three-legged.


It seems that in myth and legend a three legged horse is always seen as a bad omen or dangerous aberration. Perhaps because in a more utilitarian age, no real three-legged horse would survive.


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    • peachpurple profile image


      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Why did three legs horS lifespan is short?


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