“Don’t put the cart before the horse”

“Don’t put the cart before the horse.”

The informant was born in Atchinson, Kansas, but moved to California when she was seven, where she has lived ever since.

While the informant cannot remember a specific instance where she heard this saying, she explained that this was something that people would say over and over again. Essentially, part of her vocabulary growing up. She considers her generation to have been homebodies and that their sayings simply reflected the way people were living. To her, these sayings came from people who were doing more manual work, like farming and housekeeping, rather than office work. She herself never had a job, but fulfilled her goal of becoming a mother and homemaker.

In regards to this particular saying, it means to her that everything has to be in its proper sequence because you can’t go if the cart is in front of the horse. She has found this to be true throughout her entire life and that things do always need to be orderly to work properly. Basically, that everything does have a proper place to start with.

The informant relayed her folklore to me at my dining room table. I have known her my entire life as she is a close relative. I had already asked her about her folklore weeks before, but upon meeting on this day, she brought a list that she had written of all she could think of so that she would not forget when she told me. While she read the specific folklore off the sheet, the other details I got from her were not pre-determined.

In regards to her take on the meaning of the saying, she has lived her life very much so in line with it. While I do think that there is a time and place to be orderly, I do think that everything does not necessarily have a proper place at all times. An example of this would be art pieces, where they take something used for a specific task or purpose and show it in a new light. In some cases, this becomes a new proper place, but it still started out as being in the “wrong spot.”