Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ten horse idioms

From Queen Boudicca to the races in Ascot, the horse has always been part of life in Britain. The Celts, who arrived in Britain around 500 BC, worshiped horses and carved them on chalk hills in southern England. It is not known how many of them have been lost through the years but it is believed that there were hundreds of them.

The white horse and the horseshoe are said to bring good luck. It is still common for the bride and groom to receive a lucky horseshoe at weddings.

Being so important culturally, it is not strange that many English words and phrases derive from the horse. Today we will be having a look at ten idioms that use the word horse. In brackets, a translation to Spanish. But I'd be delighted if you could suggest better translations!
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink = you can give someone the opportunity to do something but you cannot force him or her to do it if they do not want to.
  • To bet on the wrong horse = to support someone or something that cannot  win or succeed. 
  • To change horses in midstream = to make new plans  in an activity that has already begun. (no cambiar de caballo a mitad del río).
  • To hold one's horses = to be patient. (Tranquilo, ve con calma)
  • To lock the barn door after the horse is gone = it's too late now. (A buenas horas mangas verdes)
  • To eat like a horse = to eat a lot. (Comer como una vaca)
  • Straight from the horse's mouth = directly from a dependable source. (de fuente fidedigna)
  • To flog a dead horse = It's useless now. (hacer un esfuerzo inutil)
  • To look a gift horse in the mouth = to complain if a gift is not perfect. (A caballo regalado no le mires el diente)
  • To put the cart before the horse = to do things in the wrong order. (Empezar la casa por el tejado)
In this video you can get further explanations about some of the idioms above. After watching it you can do the exercises to check how much you have learnt.

Now you can try this exercise to check what you have learned.
In this exercise there are mixed animals idioms.

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