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The List


Felicity Cloake

My lovely horse, running through the field
Where are you going, with your fetlocks blowing 
in the wind?

–  Father Ted Crilly and Father Dougal, with help from The Divine Comedy
(and no thanks to Dante)


  1. ‘A fly, Sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince; but one is but an insect, and the other is a horse still.’
    – Samuel Johnson, from Boswell’s

  2. ‘Finally he said that among men there was no such communion as among horses and the notion that men can be understood at all was probably an illusion.’
    – Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

  3. ‘Take most people, they’re crazy about cars. They worry if they get a little scratch on them, and they’re always talking about how many miles they get to a gallon, and if they get a brand-new car already they start thinking about trading it in for one that’s even newer. I don’t even like old cars. I mean they don’t even interest me. I’d rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God’s sake.’ 
    – JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

  4. ‘A thousand horse and none to ride!
    With flowing tail, and flying mane,
    Wide nostrils never stretched by pain,
    Mouths bloodless to the bit or rein,
    And feet that iron never shod,
    And flanks unscarred by spur or rod,
    A thousand horse, the wild, the free,
    Like waves that follow o’er the sea,
    Came thickly thundering on’.
    – Lord Byron, Mazeppa

  5. ‘When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.’ 
    – William Shakespeare, Henry V

  6. ‘Among all the sights of the docks, the noble truck-horses are not the least striking to a stranger. They are large and powerful brutes, with such sleek and glossy coats, that they look as if brushed and put on by a valet every morning. They march with a slow and stately step, lifting their ponderous hoofs like royal Siam elephants. Thou shalt not lay stripes upon these Roman citizens; for their docility is such, they are guided without rein or lash; they go or come, halt or march on, at a whisper. So grave, dignified, gentlemanly, and courteous did these fine truck-horses look – so full of calm intelligence and sagacity, that often I endeavoured to get into conversation with them, as they stood in contemplative attitudes while their loads were preparing. But all I could get from them was the mere recognition of a friendly neigh; though I would stake much upon it that, could I have spoken in their language, I would have derived from them a good deal of valuable information touching the docks, where they passed the whole of their dignified lives.’
    – Herman Melville, Redburn

  7. ‘Other animals ran only when they had a reason, but the Horse would run for no reason whatever, as if to run out of his own skin.’
    – Rabindranath Tagore

  8. ‘Oh wasn’t it naughty of Smudges?
    Oh Mummy, I’m sick with disgust.
    She threw me in front of the judges,
    And my silly old collar-bone’s bust.’
    – John Betjeman, ‘Hunter Trials’

  9. ‘They say princes learn no art truly, but the art of horsemanship. The reason is, the brave beast is no flatterer. He will throw a prince as soon as his groom.’
    – Ben Jonson, Discoveries – Illiteratus. Princeps.

  10. ‘All in green went my love riding
    On a great horse of gold
    into the silver dawn’
    – ee cummings, ‘All in green went my love riding’

  11. ‘A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace.’ 
    – Ovid

  12. ‘There are no handles to a horse, but the 1910 model has a string to each side of its face for turning its head when there is anything you want it to see.’
    – Stephen Leacock, Literary Lapses

  13. ‘“Bitzer,” said Thomas Gradgrind. “Your definition of a horse.”
         “Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.” Thus (and much more) Bitzer.
         “Very well,” said this gentleman, briskly smiling, and folding his arms. “That’s a horse. Now, let me ask you girls and boys, Would you paper a room with representations of horses?”
         After a pause, one half of the children cried in chorus, “Yes, sir!” Upon which the other half, seeing in the gentleman’s face that Yes was wrong, cried out in chorus, “No, sir!” – as the custom is, in these examinations.
         “Of course, No. Why wouldn’t you?”
         A pause. One corpulent slow boy, with a wheezy manner of breathing, ventured the answer, Because he wouldn’t paper a room at all, but would paint it.
         “You must paper it,” said Thomas Gradgrind, “whether you like it or not. Don’t tell us you wouldn’t paper it. What do you mean, boy?”
         “I’ll explain to you, then,” said the gentleman, after another and a dismal pause, “why you wouldn’t paper a room with representations of horses. Do you ever see horses walking up and down the sides of rooms in reality – in fact? Do you?”
         “Yes, sir!” from one half. “No, sir!” from the other.
         “Of course no,” said the gentleman, with an indignant look at the wrong half.’
    – Charles Dickens, Hard Times