Do Equestrian Statues “Tell” How Riders Died?

The pose of Andrew Jacksons horse would indicate that he died in battle.
The pose of Andrew Jackson's horse would indicate that he died in battle.

There is a rumor of a secret code that exists amongst the designers of equestrian statues. Depending on the position of the hooves, believers say you can tell how the rider died.

  • All four hooves on the ground means a peaceful death
  • One hoof off the ground and the rider was injured in battle (but did not necessarily die from his injuries)
  • Two hooves off the ground means the the rider died in battle.

So how does this play out amongst statuary?

A review of equestrian statues in Washington, D.C. show that only about one-third of the statutes follow this “rule” so it appears to more of a case of trying to find a pattern where none exits. Case in point: Major General Andrew Jackson died in peace, despite the fact that his horse is depicted rearing.

Another rumored statue code is said to exist in on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia where the statues of civil war heros are said to face North if they died in the war and South if they survived. Alas, this too applies only to a small number of the statues. Nice theory, but not accurate.

3 thoughts on “Do Equestrian Statues “Tell” How Riders Died?

  1. Good greeeeeef!
    We have so many mounted statues here in VA and around Washington DC. It’s not surprising, but it is rather silly, that people might come up with some way to codify a message from various placements of these statues.
    They’re just statues, people!
    And some of em are really nice.

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