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English Proverbs and Sayings About Animals - the Horse Family(Equines)

Updated on August 5, 2019
Gloriousconfusion profile image

I love the English language, it's so expressive and colourful, with its nuances of meaning, metaphors, puns, proverbs and regional slang


Quite A Lot Of Animals Have Found Their Way Into The English Language In The Form Of Proverbs And Sayings

We are a nation of animal lovers, and it's quite natural that animals should be represented in our figures of speech.

On this page you will meet horses, donkeys and ponies - they're all here (figuratively speaking, that is).

Make Sure You Match The Right Animal With The Right Phrase, Otherwise It Will Sound Ridiculous

English Expressions About Horses

A Horse Statue in the British Museum
A Horse Statue in the British Museum | Source

Proverbs And Sayings About Horses

1. A One Horse Race - Means an absolute certainty

e.g. "In some countries where corruption and bribery are rife, elections are a one horse race, because all opposition is eliminated and there is only one prospective winner."

2. Horse Faced - Means an elongated somewhat plain-looking face

e.g."She is horse faced (or has a face like a horse) and is unlikely to win a beauty competition"

3. As Hungry as a Horse - Means very hungry

e.g. "He didn't have any breakfast and by the afternoon he was as hungry as a horse."

4. Hold Your Horses - Means wait a minute

e.g. "Hold your horses, don't start arguing until I've finished what I was going to say."

5. Horseplay - Means rough, high-spirited play

e.g. "After the party some of the students got involved in horseplay, and one of them got knocked into the swimming pool."

6. To Horse About - Means to fool about

e.g. "Don't horse about - get on with your homework or you won't get good marks."

7. Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth - Means don't criticize things you get cheaply or for nothing

e.g. "He did some gardening for me for nothing, but forgot to cut the grass - still, I suppose I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth."

8. Horses for Courses - Choosing someone to do a particular job

e.g. "I wouldn't want to be a nurse, but she likes it - it's horses for courses."

9. Straight From the Horse's Mouth - Hearing from the person concerned directly

e.g. "We heard it straight from the horse's mouth that Britain would be proceeding to Brexit as soon as possible."

Here's An English Metaphor About A Pony (A Small Horse)

Girl With a Pony Tail
Girl With a Pony Tail | Source

Pony Tail - Means a hairstyle where the hair is pulled back and held in a rubber band like a tail

e.g."She wore her hair in a pony tail"

Learn More Proverbs And Sayings - Get This Book From Amazon

Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings
Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings
Brush up on your English - even a native English speaker has a lot to learn, and you'll find this book very enjoyable. If you want to write well, you need a wide range of vocabulary and this book will help you to develop that.

English Expressions About Mules And Donkeys

Donkey Rides at a Local London Fair
Donkey Rides at a Local London Fair | Source

Proverbs And Sayings About Donkeys, Mules And Even A Zebra

1. Doing the donkey work - Means doing the mundane work.

e.g. "The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) will make all the decisions in the office, and the office workers will do the donkey work."

2. As stubborn as a mule - Means very stubborn - that is, determined not to change one's attitude, even if it would be reasonable to do so.

e.g. "I asked him three times to put out his cigarette, but he refused - he was as stubborn as a mule."

3. A Zebra Crossing - this means a pedestrian street-crossing marked with broad white stripes, where pedestrians have priority and, by law, motor vehicles must stop to allow them to cross the road (remember the Beatles record cover Abbey Road, with the four of them crossing the road?).

e.g. "Don't jay-walk, use the zebra crossing, as it's a busy road"

A Zebra Crossing


Finally,The Following Expression Is One of My Grandmother's Favorite Sayings:

From a donkey what can you expect but a kick?

When I Googled it, I couldn't find a meaning, which makes me wonder whether in fact it is a translation from some other European language such as Polish or Russian, as my grandmother spoke with an accent. I always assumed it was English, as she repeated it often enough for it to remain in my mind, but clearly this is not so.

Anyway, it's such a good saying that I think you'll like it too, and maybe bring it into the English language by common usage. Can anyone tell us which language this idiom comes from?

From a donkey what can you expect but a kick? - Means people run true to type, so, for instance, don't expect great things from an inappropriate person.

e.g. "If you are mixing with someone of poor character, don't expect they are going to change just for you (if they are dishonest, they will be dishonest with you too) - from a donkey, what can you expect but a kick?"

Read This Humorous Book About Punctuation And Language : Eats Shoots And Leaves

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
This is a very funny book about English Language and punctuation. Very informative, and so funny that you are learning without even noticing. You wouldn't believe such a book could actually be an enjoyable read, but it is. I loved it and, after reading part of it, bought several copies as presents It would make a great present for anyone with an interest in the niceties of language - humorous, clear, and educational. Highly recommended.

A Video About Horsey Expressions

Try This Poll About Your Command Of The English Language

How Many of These Horsey Expressions Did You Know?

See results

© 2010 Diana Grant

Do Leave A Comment - Can You Think Of More Proverbs Or Sayings About Animals?

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    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      4 years ago from United Kingdom

      That means you have good skills in English!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      thanks. i could do the project easily

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Who would have thought it? Happy New Year, Paul

    • Paul Ward profile image


      5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Blind as a bat

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      @GrammieOlivia: Better than being catty or ratty!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Love the animal definitions, I'm a bit batty though!

    • JeffGilbert profile image


      7 years ago

      Yes, it's always interesting how animals become iconic representational models. Great lens!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi, I see you grew up in Africa. I too grew up in Africa, on a gold-mine in the bush in Tanganyika/Tanzania. My book about those years, 'Speak Swahili, Dammit!' has struck a very positive chord with people who lived in East Africa, & has wonderful reviews - press as well as reader-reviews on Amazon in the UK, the USA & Germany. I'd love to hear from you, & you can contact me on facebook, or on my email at Regards & best wishes, JAMES PENHALIGON

    • suepogson profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens - love the expressions and its good to know where they came from .

    • Gloriousconfusion profile imageAUTHOR

      Diana Grant 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      @OhMe: That's the main reason for doing it!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I didn't do too well on the quiz but enjoyed it anyway.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Ah, that is a funny one that I've heard and said over my lifetime. Hey, hold your horses!!!!

    • Thrinsdream profile image


      8 years ago

      Get that muddy dog out of our room . . . well it's a saying in our house! Also my daughter asks of me if I am down "why the long face aardvark" which always make me giggle. Great lens that made me smile. With thanks and appreciation. Cathi x

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 

      8 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      I did terrible on the quiz! Thanks for your lens, it is always good to learn something new:-)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great quotes! I like how a lot of them are formed on the traits of animals. Although I'll still never understand the one about the chicken and the road.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Cool lens idea ... nicely done!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very cool!

    • awakeningwellness profile image


      9 years ago

      What a fun collection of proverbs, there are even a few I haven't heard before. :)

    • jolou profile image


      9 years ago

      I love pets too. It's surprising how many sayings there are that include animals.

    • profile image

      akumar46 lm 

      9 years ago

      Nice collections of proverbs and sayings based on animals.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This was a lot of fun, you must have had a very interesting life with all those animals around you!

    • profile image

      Jhangora LM 

      9 years ago

      WoW! I wasn't aware mules can reproduce!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I'll try to fit as many as I can into conversations the next few days and see if anyone notices that I'm doing it. Fun lens and great quiz!

    • mariaamoroso profile image


      10 years ago from Sweden

      Thank you for the animal lesson! I learn as long as I live!

    • delia-delia profile image


      10 years ago

      Hello Diana, yes from a Squidoo Greeter! what an interesting lens...thanks for sharing! I'm glad you didn't include "healthy as a Horse" that is not a true statement, horses get sick very easily.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      10 years ago from Iowa

      Being a critter person this was fun to go through. :)


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