Riding on Horses’ Wings

Reimagining Today’s Horse for Tomorrow’s World

by Janet Bubar Rich (Author)
©2016 Monographs XVII, 111 Pages


The bond between humans and horses is deep. For humans, horses provide freedom. Riding on horses and horse-drawn chariots or carts has allowed humans to go farther and faster than they could on their own. Horses (now high-horsepower cars) are our wings. As a result, their images show up in our dreams and our personal and cultural stories as symbols not only of freedom, but of power, swiftness, nobility, and beauty. Equine images empower us to ride on inner journeys, explore the mysteries of the soul, and carry the human spirit forward. In bringing to life the horse tales of many cultures throughout the ages, Riding on Horses’ Wings is as whimsical and magical as it is inspiring. From the white-winged Pegasus and part-human Centaurs in ancient Greek myths, Epona in ancient Celtic lore, the eight-legged Sleipnir in Nordic tales, and Kanthaka in Buddhist lore, to the many horses in Native American mythologies and today’s literary and fine arts, movies, YouTube videos, and beyond, horses touch our hearts and elevate our imaginations. In this book, Janet Bubar Rich taps into our love of horses and horse tales, inspiring us all to take life by the reins, make the changes needed to improve our lives, and create sustainable futures for horses, humans, and other species on earth, our home.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction
  • Book’s Roadmap
  • 2. Mythological Horses
  • Myths Nourish Imaginations
  • Emergence: New Self-Concept
  • Archetypes: C. G. Jung
  • Introducing Horse Archetypes
  • Personal Horse Archetypes
  • Collective Horse Archetypes
  • 3. Horses in Ancient Greek and Celtic Mythologies
  • Ancient Greek Mythological Horses
  • Pegasus
  • Demeter
  • Trojan Horse
  • Centaurs
  • Hippogriff
  • Ancient Celtic Mythological Horses
  • White Horses
  • Riderless Horses
  • Epona
  • Rhiannon
  • Inaugurations in Ulster
  • Macha
  • Horseman’s Word
  • Mythological Sun and Water Horses
  • Sun Horses
  • Helios
  • Apollo
  • Water Horses
  • The Death of Ferghus
  • Skyphios
  • Poseidon
  • Hippocampus
  • Splendid Mane
  • 4. Horses of Norse Mythology
  • Valkyries Take Deceased Warriors to Valhalla
  • Wondrous Horses
  • Why Sleipnir Is Gifted to Odin
  • Why Sleipnir Is Eight-Legged
  • Odin Rides Sleipnir on Yggrasil, the Ash Tree
  • Why Thor Does Not Ride a Horse
  • 5. Mythological Horse Tales from Asia
  • Hindu Mythological Horses
  • Terra-Cotta Horse
  • Horses in Hindu Mythology
  • Uchaishravas
  • Buddhist Mythological Horses
  • Full Awakening: Bodhi and Bodhisattvas
  • Kanthaka
  • White Horse Monastery
  • Cloud, or Valahaka
  • Hayagriva
  • Windhorse
  • Buddhism: Promotes Reverence for Life
  • Horse Tale from Japan
  • Chinese Horse Tale
  • Korean Horse Tale
  • Horse Tale from the Philippines
  • Vietnamese Horse Tale
  • Horses in Ancient Persia
  • Qeytas, an Iranian Colt
  • 6. Horse Mythologies in Monotheistic Cultures
  • Horses in the Arab World
  • Horses in Jewish Traditions
  • Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus
  • Horses in Christian Mythology and Iconography
  • Artwork and Imagery
  • The Horse in Byzantine Iconography
  • Horses’ Presence and Absence
  • Horses in the New Testament
  • The Horse and the Ass
  • Unicorns in Jewish and Christian Mythologies
  • Unicorns in Jewish Lore
  • Unicorns in Christian Lore
  • Horse and Human Bonds Are Deep
  • 7. Native American Horse Tales
  • Horse Myths
  • American Pawnee Old Dun Horse Tale
  • Shoshoni “Sky Dogs”
  • The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses
  • Blackfoot Tribe’s “Many Horses”
  • A Geronimo Story
  • Ghost Dance at Wounded Knee
  • Joseph Campbell and Buffalo Bill Cody
  • Black Elk’s Story
  • Oglala Sioux’s Crazy Horse Story
  • Horses Lift the Human Spirit
  • 8. Saddling Up With Horse Tales
  • Human-Horse Team
  • Horses in Books Abound
  • Horses in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels
  • Horses in Poetry
  • Sylvia Plath’s “Ariel”—A Horse Race
  • Horses in the Visual Arts
  • George Stubbs’s Whistlejacket
  • Rosa Bonheur’s The Horse Fair
  • John Maler Collier’s Lady Godiva
  • William Morris’s The Arming and Departure of the Knights
  • Franz Marc’s Blue Horses
  • Pablo Picasso’s Guernica
  • Henri Matisse’s The Horse, the Rider and the Clown
  • Marc Chagall’s Peasant Life
  • Horse Sculptures
  • Raymond Duchamp-Villon’s Horse
  • Shared History
  • 9. Contemporary Horse Tales
  • Horses in Action
  • Equus
  • Seabiscuit
  • Secretariat
  • War Horse
  • Timeless Horse Tales
  • California Chrome and American Pharoah
  • Horse Tales on YouTube Videos
  • The Path of the Horse
  • Most Beautiful Horse Film Ever
  • Musical Horse Tales
  • Horse Tales: Moving Forward
  • 10. Horsepower vs. Horse Survival
  • Horse Tales: Moving Forward
  • The Human-Horse Story
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

← xii | xiii →


When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk;
he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it.
—William Shakespeare (Henry V, Act III)1

Sitting amidst a herd of cars in the hot afternoon on our way into West L.A., I scratch my head in wonder: How did we get here? I know we arrived at this location by driving a short distance from our neighborhood. I mean: How did our civilization get to this point in which we each buy a car, gas it up, and drive (often one person per vehicle) straight into a traffic jam?

Suddenly it occurs to me: It all started with a horse and a human’s passion to ride. The distance from that moment in history to this did not take long. It simply required humankind’s imaginative technological advancements. Although traffic jams in urban environments across the world are getting worse, increasing the time consumed in getting to our destinations, we each continue to mount our high-horsepower vehicles with the same passion our forebears honored and rode their horses. ← xiii | xiv →

The human and horse (now car, with its engine’s performance measured in “horsepower”) relationship is deep. For humans, horses provide freedom. Horses (now high-horsepower cars) are our wings. They empower us to ride on journeys, going farther and faster than we can on our own. As a result, their image shows up in our dreams, waking lives, and, hence, our personal and cultural stories, as symbols not only of freedom, but of power, swiftness, and beauty, empowering us to ride on inner journeys, explore the mysteries of the soul, and carry the human spirit forward. In delving into the horse tales of many cultures throughout the ages and weaving them together into this book, inspired by my hopping into high-horsepower cars and sitting in the traffic jams that yield time to ponder, my hope is to shed light on the depth of humankind’s fascination with horses—now horsepower.

← xiv | xvi →


I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious
neigh it was. My very heart leapt with the sound.
—Nathaniel Hawthorne

To the horses romping in the fields near my home, thank you for bringing me back to the natural world. Your beauty ever-majestic and your frolicking ever-engaging give this work meaning. In humility, I thank you.

To the storytellers, mythmakers, artists, poets, authors, playwrights, filmmakers, composers, and others across time and place who bring us transcendental blue horses, winged horses, and prisms and glasses through which to see horses and ourselves from many angles as we befriend horses and ride them to the sandcastles of our dreams, thank you for expanding our vision, sensibilities, and soulful journeys.

With appreciation, I would like to acknowledge and extend my thanks to the following for their contributions: ← xv | xvi →

Finally, I would like to acknowledge Pegasus and all the wondrous mythological horses for inspiring many of us to reach for the stars.


XVII, 111
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (August)
Horse tales Horse Mythological Horses Horses in Ancient Greek Asia horse tales
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2016. XVII, 111 pp.

Biographical notes

Janet Bubar Rich (Author)

Janet Bubar Rich is the recipient of a BA in English from UC Berkeley and a PhD in mythology, with an emphasis in depth psychology, from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Dr. Rich’s research explores mythic figures with a focus on the contemporary concerns of our world. She is the author of Exploring Guinevere’s Search for Authenticity in the Arthurian Romances (2012) and Hestia – The Goddess of the Hearth (2014).


Title: Riding on Horses’ Wings
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131 pages