Tag Archives: horse

Polish Horse Joke

Background Information: Informant was an American of Polish descent, traveling abroad in Poland a few years ago with a school trip. At a bar, informant was making polite conversation (in mostly English) with some Polish natives. The Poles told informant their ‘Horse Joke’. The following is the joke as told by informant after traveling back to America.

The Horse Joke: So there’s this really famous race horse, right? But, after winning a bunch of races, he was tired. After… ya know, a few months, this race horse knew nothing but like excitement and retired and.. got bored and, he went to the farmer of this Retirement farm that he was on and he was like “Hey, Mr. Farmer, I’m bored. Give me something to do.” And the farmer says “You know what? I heard about this guy, in town, that can teach any animal to play any instrument in just, one week. So how ’bout I pay for that, and you can not be bored anymore?” And the horse says “alright that sounds like an idea.” One Week. One week later, the horse knows how to play the guitar, which is cool. he’s jamming out.. having a good time, when… a bunny, hops in. This bunny, like “wow I heard the strumming I wanted to check out what was going on I didn’t know there would be a horse in here. Can I, how did you learn to do that?” And the horse went, “Well there’s this guy in town who can teach any animal to play any instrument in a week.” So the bunny went into town, and learned how to play the drums, and then the two were jamming out. Got a cute little band going… a bunny on the drums, a horse on the guitar… playing away. Until one day a bear came through. And, growled and snarled, and then, he spotted them and he was like, “Wow I was gonna eat you guys, but now, I see you playing instruments and, I wanna know how to do that.” They were like, “Well, There’s a guy in town? he can teach any animal to play any instrument in a week.” And the Bear said, “Alright I’ll go check that out.” And he stumbled away and a week later he came back with a trumpet. And then they were all playing their ‘Animal… Band’. People came from all over just to check them out. Bear on the trumpet, bunny on the drums, horse on the guitar. Its quite a sight. It was nice. Till one day, uhh, a music manager came through and said “Hey, I wanna make you guys famous.” And they were all like “Yeah! Let’s Do It!” So they all went on tour to get their name out.. people coming from all over just to see one of their concerts… it was one of the coolest things to see all these animals playing instruments. And they were pretty good, too. Until… and it was all great until the day where they had to go on a plane to go overseas to continue their tour globally. The horse, being an old race horse, he didn’t feel too well. He was like, “Hey guys I don’t feel too good. I don’t think I should go on a plane, I think we should stop. Even though it’s our opportunity.” But the bear and the bunny they were going like, “no no no, this is our chance, this is our big moment, we gotta go now!” The horse, really adamant, like “I really don’t feel good you guys, I can’t.” And they’re like “But we’ll go on without you, But you’ll regret it.” And the horse, thinkin it’s whatever “Ehhhh, whatever.” So the bear and the bunny get on the plane and the horse goes back to the farm to get a checkup. Well right before he gets his checkup, the farmer comes in, saying “I’ve got terrible news, pal. That plane you were supposed to get on? The one with your friends? It crashed, and there were no survivors.” So the horse got into a deep depression that it was all his fault, that he should have saved them, should have told them not to.. get on the plane, been more firm with it- he really just blamed himself. to the point where he even started drinkin’; drinkin’ and drinkin; day in and day out. Until one day, the horse got all of the farmer’s stored up money that he earned from all his early work- playing at guitar. And he said “I’m gonna go down to the bar, and I’m just drink till I’m dead.” So the horse takes all his money, sadly clops down to the bar, opens the door, walks in, bartender looks up and says, “Why the Long Face?”

Context: The joke is a play on an older joke, which is simply “A horse walks into a bar and the bartender asks ‘Why the Long Face?'”. By adding the convoluted background, the joke is less about the punchline and more about making the audience sit through as much lore as possible before the punchline.

Thoughts: It’s interesting to see how this older joke is not only familiar to Americans, but also to Poles as well. Being of Polish heritage myself, it was nice to have a mutual understanding of humor with a people group I have never met, yet am supposed to be connected to. I was told this joke a couple years ago when Informant first came back from Poland, and I remember many differences. For example, the bunny was originally (originally to me) a chicken. I think due to the convoluted plot, the joke has a tendency to change.I have told this joke to several of my friends, and now, it has almost become a rite-of-passage within my friend group. When the joke is mentioned, anyone in the group will moan and tell me to stop, but anyone outside the groups will ask me, “What’s the Horse Joke?”. I will then torture them with 4 minutes of horse-joke ramblings until they inevitably hate me, and hate me even more when the punchline is a joke they’ve heard before. I highly recommend this joke.

For another version of this joke, see

Szathmary, Author Henrietta. “20 Best a Horse Walks into a Bar Jokes.” Horsey Hooves, 2 Nov. 2021, https://horseyhooves.com/a-horse-walks-into-a-bar-jokes/. 

Magic Horse Legend Variation

TEXT: “One day a rabbi went to visit a small stable owner. He saw one of horses and liked it very much. He asked him if he could have the horse as a gift. The owner replied that that was his favorite horse and was able to the work of three horses combined, so he said no. The rabbi left and upon his leaving the horse dropped dead right then and there.”

INFORMANT DESCRIPTION: Male, 83, Polish, Jewish

CONTEXT: This legend has many variations, some other are called The Magic Horse. But this man told me that this variation has a different purpose and message. He said he learned it from his dad who was trying to make him understand that God works in mysterious ways. He wanted him to be charitable but also loyal to his religion. The man says he never liked the legend because he doubted that it ever happened and didn’t like the message it gives. He said it made him feel like he could not say no to his rabbi or something bad would happen to him. But he understands the charitable aspect of the legend and will always remember it. He says that other variations of the legend are also interesting and have many different meanings. 

THOUGHTS: I thought this was a very interesting legend that definitely had some aspect of charity but also duty to the religion. I find it a bit exaggerated but I also think it isn’t supposed to be so literal. Really just about sharing and being able to give things up for the benefit of others.

LINKS TO OTHER VERSIONS: https://culture.pl/en/article/hasidic-tales-7-intriguing-polish-jewish-legends

Devil Sightings on Horse at Night – Mexico

KF: People have tales of like because uh Mexico is like predominantly like Catholic um…people say that like they’ve seen the devil on like their horse- on his horse…like just like galloping like if you stay up really really late at night, you’ll see him like come through like the town or something.

 

Background:

Location of story – predominantly Mexico, according to informant

Location of Performance – Interviewer’s dormitory room, Los Angeles, CA, night

 

Context: This performance took place in a group setting – about 2-3 people – in a college dormitory room. This performance was prompted by the call for stories about beliefs, ghosts, or superstitions as examples of folklore via a group message. KF approached me two days prior to this interview, but schedules did not allow for a recording until she came to ask a homework and remembered. I am good friends with KF. This story followed one of KF’s previously about La Llorona.

 

Analysis: It is interesting to note that the devil only appears late at night. In Catholic tradition, one is always at risk to sin and the Devil, but for some reason, these monsters only seem to reveal themselves at night. In Mathias Clasen’s article “Monsters Evolve: A Biocultural Approach to Horror Stories,” Paul Shepard is quoted as saying, “our fear of monsters in the night probably has its origins far back in the evolution of our primate ancestors, whose tribes were pruned by horrors whose shadows continue to elicit our monkey screams in dark theaters” (Clasen 1). In other words, tradition has conditioned us to believe that the night brings about supernatural activity. This phenomenon can possibly be explained by a communal need to feel protected from evils, such as the Devil, by having times dedicated to explore and be free and then times dedicated to retreat and hide.

 

Additional Reading:

Clasen, Mathias. “Monsters Evolve: A Biocultural Approach to Horror Stories.” Review of General Psychology, vol. 16, no. 2, June 2012, pp. 222–229, doi:10.1037/a0027918.

Shepard, Paul. The others: How animals made us human. Island Press, 1997.

The Horse Statue

The Main Piece
Folk objects have been symbols for memories, past loved ones, and important places one has been to for ages. Their value is decided not monetarily, but by the owner. For instance, the porcelain horse statue Demie owns is not worth a lot monetarily, but because of its age and its passage through generations of family members, she finds it to be irreplaceable. To be more precise, the horse is a representation of her great, great, grandfather. Her family keeps it in the living room as a reminder of their ancestry and where they came from.
Background Information
My informant is Demie Cuo, a current undergraduate student at USC and friend of my close friend, Elizabeth Kim. The statue was brought to the states from China, it being one of the few possessions he owned. She is unsure why he brought the statue of all things, but it obviously meant a lot to him. Therefore, Demie cherishes it just as he cherishes it in respect for her great, great, grandfather. Her mother told her about the horse since it stems from her side of the family. Demie enjoys having the horse there because it makes her feel connected to her culture and ancestors even if she did not have the opportunity to meet them. She would also hope to pass down a folk object that would preserve her existence.
Context
She, Elizabeth, and I were relaxing in my dormitory sharing stories of our life back home. She casually brought up that if we were to ever visit her, that we would see this odd statue in living room. She began to explain the significance of it and why it was there.
Personal Thoughts
The idea of preserving my existence truly intrigues me. I had no idea that a folk object could mean that much or do so much for a family. It brings to light what small actions such as keeping a horse statue can do. I found it interesting the she placed value in the horse simply because it meant so much to her great great grandfather, even though she had never met him. It is obvious that ancestry and culture mean a lot to Demie and her family.

La Sihuanaba

The following story  is said to have occurred in Guatemala.

EO: “My aunt told me the story of the Sihuanaba and I’m not sure if it’s the wide one because like she told it to me very specifically, as if it were her that saw her. So it was like a first hand account sort of thing…I was terrified.”

What happened to your aunt?

EO: “She says she was riding a horse, and someone was ahead of her on a horse. And the person didn’t have a head or something. So they turned around, and it turns out the person’s hair was super messy, like a horse’s mane.” 

Did they interact?

EO: “No, she just looked at her, then went away. But that’s all I know about La Sihuanaba. She just looks at people and steals horses–so you can’t go alone.”


 

La Sihuanaba is a mythological creature of Guatemala and El Salvadoran folklore. Like many mythological creatures shared from parent-to-child, the story of La Sihuanaba is told by parents to convince their children not to roam alone away from the home.