Horses have been mentioned or the subject of songs and poems for thousands of years. Mentions of horses in popular songs can either be literal or a metaphor, but either way, there are a lot of them. Here is a list of famous songs that involve horses to some degree.
1. Horse with No Name – America
This is a quintessential horse-related song by the US band America. The song is about an unknown traveler riding on a horse (with no name) through the desert while observing the environment around him. The band America was formed in 1970 in London, England by three sons of US Airforce personnel who were stationed there during the 60s and 70s.
The song has an arc of sorts with starts with the protagonist first contemplating the land around him, then feeling hopelessness, then triumph as he lets his horse loose as it has started to rain and life is returning to the barren land.
2. Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones
This song is about traveling on the road where the famous idiom ‘Wild horses couldn’t drag me away’ is the chorus. The song was recorded in 1969 and released in 1971 on the album Sticky Fingers. The song is listed as 193 of ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 2021 update.
3. Tennessee Stud – Johnny Cash
This iconic country singer tells this story about a character’s adventures on his “sun-colored, green-eyed” horse around America including escaping outlaws and racing horses with the Spaniards. One wonders how the horses would have fared with Golden Slipper odds in today’s races.
The protagonist and his stud eventually travel back to Tennessee where he finds his sweetheart who rides a Tennessee Mare and they live happily ever after. The song was originally written and performed by American folk singer Jimmy Driftwood in 1959 and has been covered by many other artists over the years.
4. The Horses – Daryl Braithwaite
Braithwaite covered this song that was originally written and performed by Ricki Lee Jones in 1989 on her album, Flying Cowboys. Braithwaite’s version was released in 1991 and was met with critical acclaim reaching number 1 on the Australia ARIA charts.
The lyrics of the song have an almost dream-like quality to them describing if someone is feeling low, they can be “riding on the horses” across the sky with someone to support them. An enduring song, it has been popular for over 30 years.
5. Chestnut Mare – The Byrds
This song, released in 1970, is quite literally about tracking a chestnut-colored mare in an attempt to capture and tame the animal. The horse is aloof, however, with the protagonist of the song making several unsuccessful attempts to capture the horse. He gets close but the horse bolts with the rider in pursuit when they both eventually fall into a crevice with the horse escaping yet again.
The song invokes a sense of wonder with the majestic creature and the protagonist has no malice towards the animals, he just wants to have the horse as a companion as he respects its beauty and tenacity. Some other interpretations of the story are that the horse represents untamed nature, with the protagonist representing the control man wants to have over nature, but that is up for conjecture.