Horses Running

It’s time to say goodbye to the Year of the Snake and welcome the 2014 Chinese New Year. With this New Year comes a new animal from the dozen in the Chinese Zodiac: the horse! The Year of the Horse begins today and continues until February 18, 2015.

What It Means to Be Born in This Zodiac

Each Chinese zodiac animal has certain characteristics that those born during the year are said to share.

Just as horses display an intuitive nature, people born in the Year of the Horse often follow their instincts and have good judgment, which helps them make the right decisions and act quickly in situations. They also share the social nature of horses (who prefer to live in herds), as many people born during this time enjoy crowds, parties and having lots of friends. Their natural charm means they tend to attract people easily. Like horses, these people are often clever and intelligent. They're inclined to be carefree by nature, loving freedom and rebelling against constraint. Often they are also good communicators — just like horses, who use a unique combination of vocalizations and body language.

Specifically, this year is that of the wooden horse. Each year is often tied to one of the five elements: wood, water, earth, fire and metal. Wood is associated with the color green and springtime, so some refer to this year as that of the green wooden horse. A wood year means that many of the above mentioned traits would be intensified.

How do you know if you’re a Horse? This is your zodiac animal if you were born during the following time periods:

  • February 11, 1918 – January 31, 1919
  • January 30, 1930 – February 16, 1931
  • February 15, 1942 – February 4, 1943
  • February 3, 1954 – January 23, 1955
  • January 21, 1966 – February 8, 1967
  • February 7, 1978 – January 27, 1979
  • January 27, 1990 – February 14, 1991
  • February 12, 2002 – January 31, 2003
  • January 31, 2014 – February 18, 2015

Horses in Mythology

It’s no surprise that the horse found its way onto the rather exclusive list of Chinese zodiac animals, as it appears in many mythologies of cultures around the world.

Beyond the zodiac, the horse is still a prominent figure in Chinese mythology. The Horse-Headed Lady sometimes plays a role in folklore about the origin of silk farming and is its patroness. The Horse King Ma-wang, the Celestial Charger, is considered the ancestor of all horses; while the white Cosmic Cloud Horse is an avatar of the goddess of compassion, Kwan-yin (known as Kwannon in Japan.) Winged horses, dragon-horses and horse-faced guardians also appear in Chinese legends.

White horses draw the chariots of many of the sun gods in mythology, including Apollo and Mithra. Four horses also pull the chariot of the Iranian goddess of water, Ardvi Sura Anahita, and represent wind, rain, clouds and sleet. In Norse mythology, the horse is sacred to the god Odin, who rides an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir. The female figures known as Valkyrie also ride horses.

Perhaps the most well-known horse in mythology, though, is the winged-horse Pegasus. Pegasus is the son of Medusa and Poseidon (the god of horses and the sea). Pegasus plays a role in tales of the creation of a fountain whose waters bring forth poetic inspiration, and as the steed of the hero Perseus on many adventures.

New Year Expectations

The wood and horse combination means it should be a lucky time for everyone, so consider making the changes you’ve been waiting to make in your life. While the Year of the Snake may have been a year for caution and planning, the wild nature of the horse means it’s time to take chances! But those born as a Horse should beware of moving too fast. Use your intelligence and instincts to pick the right times to act!