Four Horses of the Apocalypse: Which is yours?

White, red, black, pale… Discover the true meaning behind your very own equine harbinger of doom.

Top photo credit: simplepasttimes

From Shara:

The third horseman of the apocalypse rode a black horse. So do I! I’m pretty sure it’s not the same one, though. In the New Testament, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse signal the coming of all sorts of unpleasantness. Each one was a different color, and symbolized a different thing.

Whether you’re horse shopping, trying to figure out the best job for your pony, or merely hoping to gain some insight into the mind of your steed, a brief look at each of The Four can’t hurt.

Vasnetisov's version

Vasnetisov’s version. Shown free of bits, the Four Horses of the Apocalypse probably did some Parelli work. Source: Wikmedia Commons.

For example, more about mine. The apocalyptic black horse signified famine, and as mine is the size of a double wide and quite shiny, “famine” is not usually the first word that comes to mind when you see him. That word is “diet.” The Apocalyptic rider on the black horse carries a balance scale. While I struggle mightily to attain balance in my horse’s back, I usually just carry sugars and a whip. According to apocalyptic lore (very cheerful reading, by the way), the black horse and rider are the only ones whose appearance is accompanied by a vocal pronunciation. Mine is usually “GIT!” uttered at the base of jumps. And while the appearance of my horse often does signal the coming of an apocalyptic dressage test, I’m pretty sure my guy’s not the one from the Book of Revelations, mostly because my horse’s name is Puppy, and that just wouldn’t work for an arbiter of the End Times.

Here’s a look at the Four Horse Colors of the Apocalypse. (No telling what sort of holy chaos a rider on an Appy would have wrought.)

The White Horse, the First Horse of the Apocalypse

white horse


Traditionally, the white horse means military conquest. Practically, it means a lot of grooming. The First Rider of the Apocalypse was no doubt very familiar with Cowboy Magic. If you feel your mission is to remove manure stains, a white horse is perfect for you. He or she will provide an opportunity to conquest dirt daily. White horses have also been quite successful conquering television audiences.

Examples: The Lone Ranger’s Silver and the “horse” Lady Gaga rode to the American Music Awards.

The Red Horse, the Second Horse of the Apocalypse

fiery horse


The fiery chestnut has traditionally represented war. But that’s an unfair stereotype. In fact, one of the most beloved and brave military horses of all time was a chestnut–and a mare at that! Over her career, Staff Sgt. Reckless hauled nearly five tons of ammunition across No Man’s Land to our troops, usually on her own, and carried wounded soldiers to safety on her way back. Red horses can be the perfect partners for triumph in a myriad of battlefields, whether they are studded with oxers or racing barrels.

Examples: Brentina, Sapphire, Staff Sgt. Reckless

The Black Horse, the Third Horse of the Apocalypse

black horse


As mentioned above, the black horse is often associated with an oncoming famine. This, however, does not necessarily mean a physical hunger. It is famous black horses who have unleashed a hunger in millions of little girls worldwide, a hunger they might not have known they had, a hunger that has led some of them to max out more than one credit card (not that I would know): the hunger for a pony of their own.

Examples: The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, Totilas, Puppy The Wonderhorse

The Pale Horse, the Fourth Horse of the Apocalypse

pale horse


Experts vary as to whether the pale horse is a palomino or a buckskin. They agree, however, that his rider is Death. Of course, today, anyone can ride a pale horse. Traditionally, the rider of the pale horse carries a scythe (think grim reaper), but a dressage whip can be just as handy if you working on downward transitions instead of the downfall of mankind. Pale horses can be quite bright–and not just their golden hue. Some of the most famous trick horses were palomino. It’s past time for the pale horse to lose the “death” link. After all, Roy Roger’s Trigger was a pale horse. and that guy was just a harbinger of “Happy Trails.”

Examples: Mr. Ed, Barbie’s Dream Horse, Trigger

Go Riding.


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