The horse was one of the first domesticated animals and it holds a privileged place in human myth and imagery. Even before they were domesticated, the ancestors of modern horses were being painted on cave walls. Over the centuries, horses were some of the most prized possessions for many different cultures, from the mounted knight to the cowboy to the Mongol hordes. As with any animal so important to so many people, the horse has found a place in body art.
The oldest symbolism that applies to horses is speed and power. The hunter gatherers of the prehistoric period were fascinated by these creatures, who were among the fastest and most difficult prey they attempted to hunt. Horses were both powerful and fast but they were also alert and clever.
As a result, the original symbolism of the horse was one of contradictions. As a result, horses had both positive and negative connotations. This older symbolism is somewhat muted in modern societies where the horse has been domesticated and people are familiar with them. In my Opinion Horse with wings of angel tattoos would be mind blowing.
The horse's role as a work and war animal forms the next chapter in the symbolism of the horse. In the ancient world, before the development of the saddle and stirrup, people only rarely rode horses for transport or battle.
Instead the horse was a living engine for construction and fighting, performing the same roles that we now use engines for. Horse drawn carriages were the tanks and planes of their day, and the chariot is a powerful symbol of the ancient methods of war.
After the fall of Rome, the development of the saddle produced a new type of symbolism for the horse: the knight. The horse was associated with armored knights and nobility in Europe, and much of the symbolism of the knight (nobility, honor, power) merged with horses.
The horse and armor of the knight were terribly expensive, however, which lead to a distinction between horse owners and the lower elements of society. This distinction can still be seen today, where equine sports like polo or horse jumping are associated with the aristocracy.
After the Middle Ages ended and the Enlightenment swept through Europe, the horse became less of a potent symbol in the Old World. It wasn't until the Wild West period when horses became a powerful image, this time one of freedom from responsibility and access to opportunity.
Horses and cowboys became inextricably combined in the popular imagination, much like the knight and horse before. Considering the lingering power of the cowboy mythos, many tattoos featuring horses are still connected with that imagery, as with American Indian tattoos.
There's a special category of horse tattoos that don't draw directly on real horses. Horses served as the inspiration for many different mythological creatures over the years, like the Pegasus and unicorn. Mythological horses are a great source of tattoo ideas, as they can represent many different things. Unicorns are connected with purity and faith, while the Pegasus connects the symbol of the horse with an even more potent symbol of freedom: flying.