Aisling is the author of "Dog Funeral Evangelism." Her articles on dream interpretation and Jungian psychology have over 2.1 million views.
Horses are perennial favorites throughout our cultures. We write about them. We sing songs about them. We employ them in both recreation and in service. Seeing the wild horses of the Camargue region of France is an activity on more than a few folks' bucket lists.
In dreams, the top things that horses may symbolize are:
- Freedom and independence
- Hard work
- Fun and play
We'll have a look at all of those ideas, but we'll also cover typical dream horse actions, such as what it means to dream about:
- Talking horses
- Falling off a horse
- Betting on a horse
- Taming a horse
- Riding a horse
But wait, there's even more!
We'll also cover an aspect of horses in dreams you might find surprising—horses as death symbols.
Finally, we'll take a brief look at the most famous of all horses, the legendary unicorn who, as it turns out, isn't as fantastical as we once thought.
So saddle up and let's look at the ways horses gallop through the wilds of our dreaming minds.
1. Horses as Symbols of Power
In dreams, horses can symbolize how we feel about power—how we connect to it, how we harness it. The stronger and healthier the horses in our dreams, the stronger and healthier our connection to our own power.
When we dream of sick horses, horses unable to bear their burdens, or horses that are collapsing, we can take the dream as a sign that the we are also feeling under the weather or unable to cope with the demands of our lives.
Never discount a sick horse in a dream as that symbol can point to health issues that need addressing. The issue need not be physical. An ailing horse can symbolize depression or even psychosomatic illness.
Psychosomatic illnesses are often mistaken as illnesses that are "in our heads." Nothing could be more wrong. A psychosomatic illness means that the stress and strain that we are under is so severe it is expressing itself in physical form.
Dreams of sick horses mean our power is draining. Finding the drain's location helps us recover our power and our health.
2. Horses in Dreams as Symbols of Freedom and Independence
Dreaming of wild horses running through the plains or on a beach is quite positive. Dreams of wild horses can symbolize our own desire for independence or can be confirmation that we have achieved a level of such that we did not think possible.
Sometimes when we feel trapped in our life circumstances, dreams of wild horses can be dreams known as "wish fulfillment." Wish fulfillment dreams occur when we desperately want something, but feel we can't obtain it in our waking lives.
Sometimes the conviction that we can't achieve our goals is factual, but other times, the only thing standing between us and our desires is ourselves. Self-honesty is imperative. We have to ask ourselves if what we want is really unobtainable or if we're simply limiting ourselves out of fear or lack of commitment.
3. Horses in Dreams as Symbols of Hard Work
In dreams, horses can stand for our own hard work, such as the energy and efforts we're putting into our careers, our relationships, or creative endeavors.
It is helpful to make sure our dream horses are working diligently, but we also want to make sure they aren't overworked. Why? The meaning of the phrase "rode hard and put up wet" might give us some clues.
Rode hard and put up wet refers to the fact that horses, like humans, need to cool down after engaging in longs runs. Overworking a horse, that is, riding it hard, causing it to sweat and not giving it time to walk off the run, take a little water, and then giving it a rub down before returning it to its stall is a recipe for disaster.
Improper care can make good horses go bad—just like their humans. It's important to balance hard work with rest and play.
Which bring us to our next horse dream interpretation: horses as symbols of fun.
4. Horses as Symbols of Fun and Play
The origin of the phrase "horsing around" is obscure at best. It's thought the phrase comes to us as an extension of "horseplay" which itself came from the usage of the word "horse" as a verb which meant "to play tricks on."
Whatever, its origin, horseplay and horsing around could not be more apt for horses. Do a quick Internet search and you'll find all manner of videos of horses playing around, engaging in activities guaranteed to make us laugh like the one below of the horse playing with a rubber chicken.
Not all dreams have heavy, serious symbolism. Horses in dreams may simply symbolize that we need to take some time off from hard work and engage in some simple, fun horse-play. We may need to laugh out loud, throw off our harnesses and saddles, kick up our heels and let ourselves run wild!
A Horse of a Different Color
White horses combine the strength of the horse with the purity of white, symbolizing both power and integrity in using it. White horses also symbolize the overcoming of obstacles and the defeat of darkness and negativity.
In dreams, black horses can symbolize the mysterious contents of the unconscious as well as appearing as symbols of the archetypal shadow.
Brown is the color of stability, comfort, and the home. Brown horses in dreams can symbolize a time of feeling safe and secure in our relationships at home and even indicate a comfort with ourselves.
Grey horses in dreams carry much of the same symbolism as a white horse and the two colors are often used interchangeably. A grey horse, however, may give a bit more wisdom to one's use of the power of the white horse.
Black and White
A black and white horse can indicate a "black and white" or "all or nothing" mindset. While seeing things in black and white terms is not necessarily a bad things, we might want to consider if such thinking is always helpful and try to be a bit more flexible from time to time.
Dapple or Multicolored
Whereas the black and white horse indicates an all or nothing mindset, the dapple horse in a dream indicates powerful creativity, a genius mind at work. We do well to remember, however, that sometimes simplifying our minds and tempering our talents with discipline yields greater results than a scattered viewpoint.
5. Horses in Dreams as Death Symbols
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of modern-day analytical psychology, believed that horses in dreams symbolize our own life energy. Therefore, dreams about horses that are unwell in some way symbolize a similar sickness in our own waking lives.
Horses in dreams that are languishing in some way like falling down, looking like that can barely put one foot in front of the other, or appear exhausted in some way can symbolize the impending death of some aspect of ourselves.
As a symbol, death is not always negative. Sometimes, we need to allow aspects of ourselves that we identify with to die. Why? Because sometime the aspects we're identifying with are not actually our own.
Unfortunately, where horses are concerned, this is usually not the case. Overall, horses are symbols of health, vitality, and energy. When horses are dying in dreams it typically means that something that gives us life is leaving us.
6. What About Talking Horses?
An animal speaking in a dream is of special interest is because the animal is actually giving a voice to our unconscious. In talking animal dreams, the unconscious is just represented in images, but also in words.
A talking horse in a dream might also symbolize our own voices. The talking horse might mean we've recovered our voices accept our knowledge as valid, useful, and worthy of respect.
Alternatively, a talking horse in a dream might be using word play to convey the exact opposite: that we feel "hoarse," that is, that we feel unable to express ourselves or our emotions.
Dwarf Pony Gets Her Running Legs!
7. What Does it Mean to Fall Off a Horse in a Dream?
There are dream guides that interpret dreams of falling off horses as bad omens indicating a similar fall will occur shortly in the waking world.
This is not one of them.
Falling off a horse in a dream symbolizes nothing more than getting used to something unfamiliar to us. No one ever learned to ride a horse without taking a fall. I know. I've ridden horses and I've fallen from horses. And every single time, I got right back up and go right back on!
In dreams, falling off a horse might actually, ironically, indicates a persevering nature or an adventurous spirit. The dream involves having the courage to take on something new, something unknown, and having the tenacity to continue tackling that new venture until it becomes second nature to us and we're able to ride it like the wind. Great job!
8. What Betting on Horses Means in Dreams
Horses are incredibly intuitive animals. As such, they can reflect our own intuitive nature.
Dreams of betting on horses can symbolize not just our intuitive selves, but the fact that we are finally getting to a place where we're trusting our intuition—trusting it so much, in fact, that we're willing to bet on it!
Betting on horses in dreams also indicates that we're on the right path with our waking life decisions. Think about it. We don't bet on losers; we bet on winners or at least that which we believe will win. Dreaming about betting on horses can mean that we finally see ourselves as winners and are willing to gamble on ourselves.
9. What Saddling a Horse Means in a Dream
In waking life, saddling a horse means we're getting ready to go for a ride and in dreams the symbolism is quite similar.
Saddling a horse in a dream means that we're prepared for life. We've done our work diligently and thoughtfully, we've learned to discipline our minds and emotions, and now, at long last, we're ready to take the reins and put all we've learned to good use.
10. What Taming a Horse Means in a Dream
Taming an animal in a dream signifies that we're taking those aspects of ourselves that might otherwise be out of control and giving them discipline and focus or conquering its negative aspect. Taming an animal means we're keeping all the best traits of that animal without losing its valuable instinctual side.
Horses, as intuitive animals, are symbols of the unconscious, so taming a horse in a dream can mean that we're making friends with the unconscious, confronting its contents and integrating them into ourselves instead of trying to distance ourselves from them.
Taming horses in dreams means we are holding the reins to our lives instead of being ridden by an unseen force.
11. What Does Riding a Horse in a Dream Mean?
Riding horses in dreams can have different meanings depending on how the ride is going.
When we dream of a wonderful ride where we and the horse are moving together, almost as one unit, this is a marvelously positive symbol. Riding a horse in this manner means that we have command over impulses, our instincts, our intuition, and are friends with our unconscious.
If, however, the horse we're riding is difficult—bucking, attempting to throw us off, out of control and taking us for a ride rather than vice versa—then this is symbolic of a similar relationship to our own psyches.
We Ride Horses, Why Not Zebras?
Fun Fact About One-Horned Horses (Unicorns)
Unicorns are legendary, but they aren't completely fantastical.
Unicorns were, in fact, real!
The remains of a one horned creature was found in Kazakhstan in 2016 and scientists believe its kind is the actual source of the mythological unicorn.
Unfortunately, the real unicorns were magical ponies capable of flight or performing any type of magic. They actually resembled something that looked like a fluffy rhinoceros weighing in at around 8,000 pounds!
Even more fascinating, unicorns and humans were together on the planet at the same time, which is likely how they made their way into our collective imaginations.
Dreams are not prophecies. Dreams are better thought of as progress reports from the psyche.
If we find out we're failing in a particular area, thinking of the dream as an evaluation, not a final grade, is helpful. Dreams are messages showing us what needs our attention, not fatalistic prophecies about what is absolutely going to happen.
- Real unicorn remains found - CNN
It turns out, unicorns were real and walked the earth with humans.
- How Horses Help With Mental Health Issues | Everyday Health
When combined with traditional psychotherapy, activities involving horses can help people suffering from a range of mental conditions, including depression and ADHD.
© 2019 Aisling Ireland
Paulina Anulyte on June 26, 2020:
What does it mean if I’m riding a dark bay horse, bareback with just a bridle and we’re galloping in an open field with my friends? I had this dream before I could canter and it felt so real.. like i was actually riding it
Lynn on June 25, 2020:
What does it mean when you sream about saving a black hourse. That you carry because it is weak from being mistreated before coming to you. The hourse also talks to you like you are life time best friends?
Samuel Kealotswe on April 13, 2020:
What does it means when you dream of people riding on running horses
Rosemary on April 04, 2020:
I keep having a dream about a dapple gray Stallion whose tail is cut flat but mane long and flowing. He rears and spooks a couple of time then looks around frantically then gallops away into the white blank area around me. I can't hear or see him after a few seconds. I have this dream every night for a week now and it's the same routine.
Coquina on March 22, 2020:
I need insight on a dream please, there were many horses with many real time native Americans, a white haired man was standing beside me then I notice extra horse with just bloody skeleton , however the bone mass was rich in blood and the bones mainly the ribs were ten times normals size , I knew he was very special to all the natives there was no fear present but I wanted to turn away from looking and the older gentleman placed his hand on my shoulder and look this was for you ,then just as I looked around to acknowledge all the natives so casual and natural about it there was a a Native American woman gracefully running a circle around everyone toward my direction with a dove that she was gently gliding on her palm towards me then awoke, any help with this would help , be well
Ashoo on February 22, 2020:
Hi I really appreciate your efforts of explaining all aspects of dreams about
elnavann from South Africa on December 18, 2019:
Hi. I enjoyed reading your article and think you were able to get almost all the meanings together in one place. I found this article after dreaming of a horse last night. I "saved" the horse from something and was nurturing it, giving it food and love. It came to some effort for me since I had to change my lifestyle to be able to do that. It feels profound and I think it might have something to do with taking back my own power.