What Is the Meaning of a Horse Statue With Its Legs Raised?

Thomas Quine/CC-BY 2.0

A horse statue with legs raised in the air is said to signify that the rider was killed in battle. Although this is a common belief among some equestrians and artisans alike, this designation is not universally applied. At some historic sites across the United States and in other countries, horses with both legs raised are found with riders who were not killed in battle.

Some views maintain that a horse statue with one leg raised is associated with a rider who was injured but did not die in battle. Others views contend that this is symbolic of a rider who was not only injured in battle but died at a later time from those injuries. A horse with all four feet on the ground is said to represent a rider that was neither killed nor injured in battle but who died away from the battlefield of something unrelated to war or battle.

A significant number of horse statues in Washington, D.C. and in London, England, do not follow these alleged protocols regarding leg location on a horse statue. The U.S. and the U.K. are the two countries in which the contentions about horse leg statue positions are most prevalent.