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10 Business English Idioms Using Horses

Yesterday I was very busy all morning and by lunchtime I was ravenous (extremely hungry). In fact, I was so hungry that I could have eaten a horse!

I posted this idiom on my Facebook Page. This made me think of all the other horse idioms we have and this gave me the idea for today’s post.

Apart from dogs, the British love horses so it’s no surprise that there are so many idioms associated to this majestic animal.

I’ve decided to concentrate on those idioms that are also used in a business context.

1. A Dark Horse (British) - someone who doesn’t reveal their hidden talents and surprises people when they discover them

Jean is a dark horse, isn’t she? All these months we thought she was quietly working in the back office when in actual fact she was writing a bestselling novel.

2. Closing the Stable Door After the Horse Has Bolted (Escaped) - Trying to stop something bad from happening when it has already happened and cannot be changed

Introducing tighter security measures after the break in seems to me like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

3. To Drive a Coach and Horses Through Something - to expose the weak points or gaps in an argument

The CFO drove a coach and horses through the company’s plans for expansion.

4. To Beat (also to flog) a Dead Horse - to waste time doing something that has already been done

Do you think It’s worth me writing to a few more recruitment agencies, or am I just beating a dead horse?

5. To Get off Your High Horse - to stop acting as if you are better or more intelligent than other people

"If you would get off your high horse for one minute and listen to your colleagues, you would find that they have some great ideas for this project”.

6. Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse (Proverb) - Do not do things in the wrong order. It implies that someone is impatient.

There’s no point trying to write the report when you haven’t got a clear idea of what to write. You don’t want to put the cart before the horse.

7. To Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth (Usually with a negative) - to be ungrateful to someone who gives you something

"I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I would accept that promotion”.

8. Horses for Courses - something you say to mean that it is important to choose the right people with the suitable skills to do a chosen activity

"Ah well, it’s horses for courses. Just because he is an IT expert doesn’t mean that he is an expert in everything to do with computers”.

9. To Get It Straight From the Horse’s Mouth - to get information directly from the original source

Keith: “Where did you hear about the takeover?” Peter: “I got it straight from the horse’s mouth.”

10. To Back the Wrong Horse - to support someone or something that cannot win or succeed

Oh well, I guess we should have known that this marketing campaign wouldn’t work. We just backed the wrong horse this time.

There are also plenty of proverbs the English Language has associated to horses. They will be the subject of a future post.

Do you have similar idioms using the horse in your language?

If you liked this post please share it.

Ciao for now

Shanthi Streat

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