“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”
That’s an old term quoted by many over the years, even by those far removed from horses.
However, some of this generation don’t understand the statement, which came to light recently when we offered several horses at no charge to acquaintances.
We didn’t want “just anybody” to have the horses, so select individuals who were knowledgeable of our nearly half century of horse breeding were contacted.
Instead of instantly accepting what we thought was our gratitude offering, so close to our heart, it was just the opposite.
Questions about age, color, breeding, handling, condition, on and on, like we were trying to sell or trade the horses. These certainly weren’t a ‘Trojan Horse,” as if we were trying to trick anybody.
We wanted others to have our horses because we were so proud of them. It hurt our feelings that we were questioned.
Yes, we could have sold them. We’ve merchandized more than two thousand horses in our life. We preferred not to take the time, expense, and heartache to do so, but rather give the horses to those who would nurture and appreciate them like we do.
Not the case initially, but then we called a friend who’s helped us a number of times in other horse dealings recently.
There was no hesitation: “Sure I want them. I’ll be there in about an hour. Thanks so much.”
It was the response we wanted and had originally expected.
The phrase, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” evidently can be traced back to St. Jerome who referred to it in his New Testament translation.
Obviously, horses’ gums recede as they age making the teeth appear to grow long, hence the term, “long in the tooth.”
Therefore, inspecting the teeth of a horse given as a gift would mean that the recipient is trying to see if the horse is undesirable.
One shouldn’t question a handout too closely, seeming ungrateful regardless of the gift.
Reminds us of First Corinthians 2:12: “That we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts so freely and lavishly bestowed on us.”
Likewise, James 1:17: “Every gift is from above.” Most importantly, Romans 6:23: “For the wages which sin pays is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.”