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Horse trading advice

Posted by ESC on August 30, 2002

In Reply to: Advice on choosing a horse! posted by Woodchuck on August 30, 2002

: : : : I am trying to trace the roots of the following traditional advice on choosing a horse and would be glad of any clues - thanks.

: : : : One white foot, buy him;
: : : : Two white feet, try him;
: : : : Three white feet, look well about him;
: : : : Four white feet, do without him.

: : : I will check my references. But I'll bet you'd have better luck contacting the staff at Bloodhorse magazine. At the bottom of the magazine home page is a link to staff names and addresses. If you do ask and they have an answer, please let us know.

: : Your posting is an old English/Irish proverb going way back but the link below is to a report by someone from the Department of Animal Science from the U of Colorado who states that there just might be some scientific evidence supporting the proverb.

: Very interesting! A secondary reason to be wary of a piebald patch is it may betray an old injury. I had a chestnut mare with a piebald patch at the site of an old laceration.

Sometimes the most wonderful coincidences occur. I was returning some tapes to the state library today. While I was taking a short cut through the stacks, my gaze fell on a folklore reference. And guess what. The verse was in the book.

From "Popular Beliefs and Superstitions: A Compendium of American Folklore from the Ohio Collection of Newbell Niles Puckett, edited by Wayland D. Hand, Anna Casetta and Sondra B. Thiederman," Volume 2, 18944-36209, G.K. Hall and Co., Boston, Mass., 1981:

31573. The informant's menfolks used to say that a horse with white feet was no good (Mrs. A.R., F, 81, farmw., Eng., Brunswick, 1956)

31574. "When your husband goes to buy a horse, he must buy one that has one white sock, for they are the sturdiest and work the best" (Mrs. L.S., F, 56, clerk, Bohem., Cleveland, 1958).

31575. A horse with a white leg is the sign of a weak horse (Mrs. L. S., F, 58, h.wife, Leban., Cleveland, 1956).

31576. When a horse has three white stockings, buy it (Mrs. P.M., F, 46, nurse, Ger.-Ir.-Fr., Wapakoneta, 1958).

31577. A four-stockinged horse is for a fool; a one-stockinged horse is for a king (J.T., F, 17, student, Finn., Cleveland, 1960).

31578. If a horse has/ One white foot, buy him;/ Two white feet, try him;/ Three white feet, shy him. (do not buy) (K.S., M, 50, farmer, Eng.-Penn.-Germ., Fredericksburg, 957);.there's something for the number of white feet which each horse has. Three's the best. Four was bad. Two and one were something, but I don't remember what they were (Mrs. D.S., F, 28, h.wife, Du.-Scot.-Ir., Jefferson, 1956)

31579. In buying a horse,/ If he has one white foot,/buy him;/ If two, try him;/ Four white feet and a white nose,/ Take off his hide,/And throw it to the crows (C.T., M, 65, coll. prof., Ir.-Eng., Lorain, 1956).

31580. When a horse has one white hoof,/ buy it;/ When a horse has two white hooves, try it;/ When a horse has three white hooves, be wary of it;/ When a horse has four white hooves, forget it. (C.S., F, 19, beautician, Germ., Cleveland, 1960)

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