to the horse

Grant Smith gsmith at EWU.EDU
Mon Jul 26 18:04:42 UTC 1999

While a youth I was involved with horse racing (training and a little
jockeying) and heard and used this phrasing.  To me it was a metaphor for
the body language of a horse and referred to its psychological as well as
physical readiness to race--especially if, on rare occasions, my older
brother was nagging me (!) about how he should wager.

>At 09:42 AM 7/26/99 -0400, bergdahl at wrote:
>>There's an anecdote about Greek phjilosophers arguing about the number of
>>teeth a horse had; all the arguments are deduced from premises.  No one looks
>>at the animal, so devalued was empiricism.  Could this be the source of both
>>expressions (though I rather like Mr. Ed)?
>I suppose I should add this probably obvious point (I left it between the
>lines when I posted last hour) --
>It seems fairly likely that the bit of jingle I more or less quoted is a
>deliberate play on the locution "to get it straight from the horse's mouth,"
>as re-applied to a putatively talking horse.
>It also occurs to me that "get it (straight) from the horse's mouth" might
>be a racetrack or turf phrase -- i.e., the hot tip I have about horse x is
>really solid, I got it straight from the horse's mouth (jocularly, as if the
>horse had actually passed along "inside information" during a
>Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing at or gd2 at

Grant W. Smith, President                       Phone:  509-359-6023
American Name Society                           Fax:    509-359-4269
Prof. English/Coord. Humanities                 Email:  gsmith at
Eastern Washington University, MS-25
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Cheney, WA  99004-2431

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