One white foot...

Are four white feet bad? Or good? There are two different versions of 'white feet' rhymes, with different suggestions. The horse superstition page outlines other horse myths.

The two poems are:

One white foot, buy him.
Two white feet, try him.
Three white feet, be on the sly.
Four white feet, pass him by.

The other says just the opposite:

One white foot, keep him not a day,
Two white feet, send him far away,
Three white feet, sell him to a friend,
Four white feet, keep him to the end.


In reality, a horse's color or markings does not determine its temperament or ability. However, some horse people do believe that black feet tend to be harder than light feet, or more brittle than light feet. Is this really true? To date, we know of no research that indicates there is any proof either way. If this was true, you would expect to see a noticeable difference in health and lameness of different colored horses.

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

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).


The following are Arabian superstitions surrounding horse foot colors.

Four stockings were said to be evil. However, two hind and one fore was good. One hind and one fore on opposite sites were excellent. Both forefeet white was very bad, while both hinds white was good.

There is also a tale about an Arab who had bred his fine mare for the first time, and everyone gathered to watch the birth. All were vying to purchase the foal. As the foal's head appeared a star was evident, and its master rejoiced; his horse was very lucky. Then came the near-fore leg, and the proud owner asked a hundred duros for the foal. Next came the off-fore, with a white sock; The price dropped to fifty duros. Then came the near-hind; it was white, and the Arab was joyous and vowed not to sell his foal for anything in the world. But then came the fourth leg-- pure white! And the owner ordered the foal to be destroyed, for it was worthless.

---Source: Horses of the Sahara, by General E. Daumas (first published in 1850)

"Personally, our three horses with the best feet have mixed hoof colors; One has four white hooves and tall white socks, the other has all four black hooves, and the third has two black hooves, two white hooves. Our two ponies, with extremely tough hooves, have mixed colors too, with one having all black, and the other having all white."

So, which is best, white hooves or dark hooves? Some people may have a preference, but to many it doesn't matter, as good horses come in any and every color.



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