Meet KarmaKarma's Many BooksComing UpKarma's BlogPhoto Album
School VisitsFeatures for TeachersParents' PlaceKids CornerContact Karma

Back to Good Karma

Welcome Friends! Here is a place for teachers, parents, librarians and writers to learn what's going on in the world of book author Karma Wilson.

Gift Horses today….

Let’s have a look at language.  Did you ever stop and pause at the phrase, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth?” No?  Must just be me. Anyway, here is one phrase that is definitely past its time. The phrase goes back at least as far as 1546, the first recorded form of it in print.

Having three horses I know that proof of age and health can be found in their mouths.  It’s not uncommon when buying a horse to pry the poor creature’s jaws open and gaze at the wear on his teeth and the general “pinkness” of his gums and tongue.  (Unfortunate. I imagine the horses aren’t getting the best first impression of a possible new owner.) 

Throughout history horses have been popular gifts.  Healthy horses apparently weren’t.  But it was considered bad manners to prop open the jaws of your “gift horse” and estimate its worth or lack thereof.  A Miss Manners of 1546 might caution her readers to accept their gift horse gratefully and curtsy.  She might quip, “If life (or a cheap aquaintance)  gives you an old horse, make glue!” (Readers, I do not advocate equine adhesive.)

Our Horse Rocky

Photo I took of our horse Rocky.

I mentioned that we own three horses.  I should say the horses own us.  I love them, but horses are very expensive. Hay, oats, trailers, vet bills, saddles, blankets, shoeing, barns, wormer, shots, tack and the list goes on….  Back in the day when horses were the primary source of transportation, these expenses weren’t so bad.  And let’s face it, a lot of them weren’t even a reality. Horse trailers? Horses carried you to your destination, not vice-versa.  Now horses are a luxury. When my CPA did my taxes he browsed our expenses. “I could save you a lot of money if you used your horses for income. Do you?” Um, sadly no. 

Our horses are precious to me. They are very entertaining and very beautiful.  But if somebody were to give me a gift horse I would assuredly look it in the mouth.  Then I might proclaim, “Looks healthy. You keep him.”

You may be wondering what all of this has to do with children’s writing?  Nothing, but never look a gift post in the mouth.