Humans and horses have lived together since about 4000BC, when man began to domesticate the horse. This animal has carried warriors into war, dragged ploughs for farmers, won fortunes for lucky gamblers and provided companionship for horse enthusiasts. For people who love horses, a tattoo of a horse is a great way to honor these special animals.
Horse Tattoos reveal a Relationship between Man and Beast
Horses were once multi-toed creatures, but have evolved over time to have only one toe. The hoof is essentially one large toe nail, a hard mass that protects the softer flesh of the horse’s foot. When human beings began to domesticate horses, they did not shoe the horse. As human roads developed, horse owners saw the need to protect the horse’s hooves from rough terrain and thus the horse shoe was born. Tattoos of horse shoes are related to luck. Legend has it that when the points of a horse shoe point upwards, the cup of the shoe is filled with luck. U-shaped horse shoes are sometimes hung above doorways as a way to bring good luck to the residents of a house. An “upside-down” horse shoe is a symbol of bad luck because all of the luck has been allowed to run out from the cup of the shoe. Tattoos of upside down horses are rare because they have a dark meaning, symbolizing hopelessness, ill luck and a bad fate.
Without horses, human civilization would not be what it is today. In the Roman empire, war horses carried generals and soldiers into battle while cart horses pulled ploughs for farmers back on the home front. Although war horses and cart horses were bred for different purposes, they were given the same task – to improve the life of human beings. The horse provides humanity with a strong servant, trained to obey and to put its might towards the betterment of mankind. While ancient Romans honored their horse companions by painting images of horses onto pottery jugs and bowls, modern people from all over the world are choosing to get horse tattoos inked into their skin.
Modern horse riders participate in a number of activities involving horses. Racing horses are pitted against each other in horses races that challenge the physical prowess of the horses and the fullness of the wallets of those who choose to bet on the races. Many campsites offer horseback rides through mountain forests as a drawcard to horse lovers. In many poorer areas of the world, horses are still used to pull ploughs and carts, but in wealthy areas, many horses are kept as companions for children, who learn, with their horse, how to perform various walks and jumps for gymkhanas. Many of these events end with an awards ceremony, in which a ribbon is awarded to the teams which performed well.
The Meaning of Horse Tattoos
Horses have often been used in art as a symbol of strength. A well-kept horse is muscular, toned and strong enough to pull more than its own body weight. A rearing horse is sometimes used in tattoo designs as a symbol of power, agility, strength and determination. Horse tattoos aren’t only a symbol of physical power, but of nobility; a form of emotional strength. The horse is the most noble of all animals that have been domesticated by man, and a tattoo of a horse posing proudly can be a symbol of the grace and beauty of nobility.
Horse tattoos can be a symbol of accomplishment, travel, wisdom and loyalty. It all depends on the relationship that the person getting the tattoo has with horses. Even those who don’t ride horses can have a relationship with this animal, through their ancestors, culture or through family and friends. Russia and China have ancient historical ties to these animals, so for Chinese or Russian people who want to honor their ancestors or country, a tattoo of a horse is an ideal way to show their allegiance or patriotism.
The meaning of a horse tattoo can be changed by the art style used in the horse tattoo design. Tattoos that use an ancient art style, taken from cave paintings, painted pottery or scrolls, can be a sign of ancestry or simply a love of the history of an area. A tattoo of the rearing horse used in the Ferrari logo would symbolize a love of sports cars more than a love of horses, while still honoring the speed and strength of this animal. Horse tattoos are among the most personal tattoo designs, so there is often more meaning within a horse tattoo than meets the eye.