Horse Poems

Best Horse Poems For Poetry Lovers

Horses have long inspired poets and storytellers because of their intricate alliance with humans. It’s no wonder that there are a multitude of horse poems for readers to enjoy. Some are used as song lyrics, while others remain classic verses that warm our hearts.

For millennia, horses have been alongside humans, whether they’re galloping into battle, or hauling logs, carts, and carriages.

The written word is the perfect way to immortalise the relationship between humans and their horses. From old classic poems to quirky modern verses, we’ve made a collection of some of the cutest, strangest, and best horse poems for your enjoyment.

Odes To Horses With Horse Poems

Many horse poems evoke strong emotions; from awe and respect to love and grief. Many explore the trust and connection between humans and horses, the freedom of riding on horseback, and the joy we find in our equine companions.

In ancient times, horses were often mentioned in poems and stories about battles. In mediaeval times, some of the best poems weaved tales about knights and their noble steeds who ventured out to conquer cities and hearts.

It is quite easy to understand why there is such praise for horses, simply because they are magnificent, graceful, powerful, and heroic. So let’s take a closer look at some of the best poems about horses.

Symbolism Of Horses In Poems About Horses

Often, horses are used to symbolise freedom thanks to their free spirits and wild independence. The sight of a horse and its rider can conjure a sense of power, as we think of them entering battlefields or thundering across open fields.

Some cultures view the horse as a spiritual animal and believe that they can take us on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. Perhaps it is the wind blowing in your hair as you ride on your horse or the journey that you take together that adds to this imagery and brings these beliefs alive in poetry.

The Horses by Edwin Muir

This is an excerpt from Edwin Muir’s “The Horses,” in which he describes a post-war world. What is stunning here is his description of the sound of horses’ hooves in a silent, fear-filled world.

The poem:

Barely a twelvemonth after
The seven days war that put the world to sleep,
Late in the evening the strange horses came.
By then we had made our covenant with silence,
But in the first few days it was so still
We listened to our breathing and were afraid.
On the second day
The radios failed; we turned the knobs; no answer.
On the third day a warship passed us, heading north,
Dead bodies piled on the deck. On the sixth day
A plane plunged over us into the sea. Thereafter
Nothing. The radios dumb;

And then, that evening
Late in the summer the strange horses came.
We heard a distant tapping on the road,
A deepening drumming; it stopped, went on again
And at the corner changed to hollow thunder.

Who Would Hurt a Horse or Tree by Annette Wynne

Who Would Hurt a Horse or Tree succinctly tells us that anyone who hurts animals or nature is unworthy of respect. It might only consist of four lines, but they pack a punch!

The poem:

Who would hurt a horse or tree
Does not deserve good company.
Who would hurt a bird that sings
Is meanest of all earthly things.

Horse by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

In this poem, Elizabeth Madox Roberts invites us to listen to what the horse tells us, because – even without words – he speaks.

The poem:

His bridle hung around the post.
The sun and the leaves made spots come down;
I looked close at him through the fence;
The post was drab and he was brown.

His nose was long and hard and still,
And on his lip were specks like chalk.
But once he opened up his eyes,
And he began to talk.

He didn’t talk out with his mouth;
He didn’t talk with words or noise.
The talk was there along his nose;
It seemed and then it was.

He said the day was hot and slow,
And he said he didn’t like the flies;
They made him have to shake his skin,
And they got drowned in his eyes.

He said that drab was just about
The same as brown, but he was not
A post, he said, to hold a fence.
“I’m horse,” he said, “that’s what!”

And then he shut his eyes again.
As still as they had been before.
He said for me to run along
And not to bother him any more.

The Horseman by Walter De La Mare

This short poem may give you chills, but we’re sure you will want to read it a second time.

The poem:

I heard a horseman
Ride over the hill;
The moon shone clear,
The night was still;
His helm was silver,
And pale was he;
And the horse he rode
Was of ivory.

Wild Horse of the Prairies by Isaac McLellan

Wild Horse of the Prairies is a poem about the Wild West, where “Cowboys and Indians” was not just a game for children. This poem beautifully describes wild horses in the 1800s.

The poem:

For other scenes their lights expand,
Out in the savage western land,
Where wildernesses lone and grand,
Their awful glooms extend;
Far where the Rocky Mounts upthrow
Their pinnacles of rock and snow,
White cones, whereon the sunset’s glow,
Its roseate hues doth blend.

Around them, woods primeval press,
Around them, pastures measureless,
Waved by the idle wind’s caress,
Reach th’ horizon’s edge.
In dark ravine and gulch the bear
And tiger-cat have made their lair,
The bison range the meadows there,
To browse the bending sedge.

O’er open plain, in leafy dell,
In hollow vale, on upland swell,
The wild steeds of the prairies dwell,
Free as the mountain wind;
No iron bit or curb have they,
No galling spur, no trappings gay,
No rider to control their way,
Their untam’d limbs to bind.

Free as the eagle cleaves through space,
They curvet or they join in race,
Fleeter than wild beasts of the chase,
A vast unnumbered throng;
They crop the dewy grass at will,
In ice-cold waters drink their fill,
Scour the wild plain or sweep the hill,
Unscarr’d by whip or thong.

Yet comes at times a yelling crew,
The savage with his wild halloo,
The painted Blackfoot or Sioux,
All greedy for the spoil;
It were a thrilling sight to see
Those lawless riders fierce and free,
Each swinging with a madden’d glee,
The lariat’s twisting coil.

On, on the frantic horsemen sweep,
On, on the snorting wild steeds leap,
Down flowery slope, o’er wooded steep,
Pursuers and pursued;
Then far th’ unerring noose is thrown,
The stately bay or lusty roan
Fall captive, panting, with a groan,
All vanquish’d and subdued.

Barberry by Hilda Conkling

Barberry is a spirited horse, and Hilda Conkling perfectly portrays his wild spirit and how she would always choose Barberry to be her horse!

The poem:

I’m going to have a horse
Named Barberry,
His coat the color of barberry leaves
In autumn:
Russet red he will be
With flylng mane,
Strong and wiry,
His head slender and haughty!

Touch him . . . feel the life and joy within him
Run through you like fire!

He will be free as wind:
He will take me through forests away from people,
Past lakes, across rivers, into the mountains:
He will go galloping across corn fields by twilight
He will find me a coral beach.

His eyes will snap with joy of always being free.
People may give me their best horses . . .
Barberry for me, against them all!

White Horses by Irene F. Pawsey

In this poem, horses are used in imagery, but the comparison between horses and the ocean’s power and beauty comes alive.

The poem:

Far out at sea
There are horses to ride,
Little white horses
That race with the tide.

Their tossing manes
Are the white sea-foam,
And the lashing winds
Are driving them home-

To shadowy stables
Fast they must flee,
To the great green caverns
Down under the sea.

Song Of Myself by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman tells the story of how he would choose animals over people any day and the reason behind his choice.

The poem:

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

So they show their relations to me and I accept them,
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession.

I wonder where they get those tokens,
Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them?

Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them,
Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrances,
Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms.

A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses,
Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears,
Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly moving.

His nostrils dilate as my heels embrace him,
His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure as we race around and return.

I but use you a minute, then I resign you, stallion,
Why do I need your paces when I myself out-gallop them?

Even as I stand or sit passing faster than you.

The White Horses by Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy vividly describes the White Horses carved into the hillsides of Wiltshire.

The poem:

The earth’s heart hears hooves
under hillsides
thunder in Wiltshire;
and glistening rain, in wet hours,
all ears for the white horses, listens;
the wind, hoarse, gargles
breath and whinny and shriek.

The moon’s chalk face pines for her foals.

But the sky swears
the white horses
are dropped clouds;
the sea vows they came from a wave,
foamy, salt-maned, galloping inland;
death claims it will set them
to pulling a hearse,
and love
goes riding, all night, bareback,
hunting itself.

They dreamed them, the local dead,
ghosts of war-horses,
warriors’, heroes’,
asleep in the landscape;
woke to the white horses shining
high over woods and farms;
young ancestors working the fields,
naming them his, hers, ours.

They sensed them, pulling the county
deep into England,
harnessed, history’s;
their sweet scent on the air –
wheat, hops, hay, chalk, clay.

Then stars nailed shoes to their hooves.

The conservationist climbs the hills
away from their cars,
new leucippotomists
with implements to scour and groom,
scrub and comb.

On a clear day,
from twenty miles,
a driver sees a white horse
printing its fresh, old form, on turf
like a poem.


Why use horses in poetry and what do they symbolise?

Horses in poetry are used to symbolise freedom, strength and power. Their sheer size is awe-inspiring, and the feeling of riding a horse gives a rider a sense of control and releases everyday stresses.

Are all horse poems similar?

No. There is a huge variety of horse poetry, with poems for children and adults, from mythological horses to wild and free horses. Some sad poems are like eulogies for horses that have died.

What is a sad poem for a horse that died?

A poem that is sad, but adds a bit of hope to a horse owner is, “Do Not Stand At My Grave” by Mary Frye. The poem lets the owner know that the horse will always be with them in spirit even though they have passed from this world.

Final Thoughts

Our journey through horse poems has come to its final destination, but there are a multitude of other horse poems for you to read and enjoy. From the Old West to a ghostly rider, horses can pique our imaginations and tug at our hearts. It is no wonder that they have been the subject of poems and stories in centuries past, for surely they will continue to be just as loved and praised in the future.

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