(covers information from several alternate timelines)
The horse (Equus caballus) was a large herbivorous terrestrial mammal native to Earth. For centuries, these animals were used for transportation by Humans, though horseback riding became primarily a recreational activity. This type of animal could also be referred to as a "mount" or a "steed". (TNG: "Pen Pals", "The Loss") The term "stallion" was used to describe a male horse. (Star Trek; DS9: "Tears of the Prophets") A young horse was referred to as a "foal", and a young female was known as a "filly". (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets")
People who trained these animals were called horse trainers. One breed of Earth horse was "Arabian". (TNG: "Pen Pals") The speed at which a trained horse ran could be controlled with reins or a whip. (ENT: "North Star"; TNG: "Time's Arrow, Part II") Horses might be startled by loud noises, such as a gunshot, and heat exhaustion could prove lethal to them. The quality of a horse lay in what age it was and whether it was from good or bad stock. A horse that was four years old was considered relatively young but could nonetheless bear the weight of two adult humanoids. (ENT: "North Star")
The nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty included a reference to "all the king's horses." (TNG: "The Masterpiece Society"; ENT: "Vanishing Point") Meanwhile, "horseplay" was a feature of slapstick comedy. (TNG: "Suddenly Human") There was also a metaphor about not looking a gift horse in the mouth. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"; ENT: "Cold Front")
Historical uses and references
Primitive Humans created artistic depictions of horses. One such painting was visible in the time stream as it reset at the end of the Temporal War. (ENT: "Storm Front, Part II") As history proceeded, horses were used extensively in Human history. Both the Guardian of Forever and the aforementioned resetting time stream showed multiple historic images of horses being used by Humans, such as pulling ancient Roman chariots, as well as being used by riders near pyramids in Egypt, knights, and cavalrymen of later eras. (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever"; ENT: "Storm Front, Part II") As regards warfare on Earth, horses were used by soldiers in cavalry raids. (DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach")
The Bedouin people developed extremely close bonds with their horses. As Picard once stated, "A fine warhorse would sleep in a Bedouin's tent, carry him into battle, feed his children with her milk." (TNG: "Pen Pals")
Horses were depicted in the painting Foreigners Riding Along the Coast at Takanawa in the Eastern Capital. (PIC: "Maps and Legends", et al.)
Horses were also used by Humans in the Ancient West. (TOS: "Spectre of the Gun"; ENT: "North Star") As such, horses were included in many Western films. Some of the horses in this era hauled carriages driven by Humans. (ENT: "North Star")
In the mid-19th century, a number of horses were taken from Earth, along with several thousand Humans, by the Skagarans and resettled on a planet in the Delphic Expanse. After the overthrow of the Skagarans, horses continued to be used as transportation by Humans. (ENT: "North Star")
Horses continued to occasionally be used to pull carriages and wagons on Earth. Many horses, mostly pulling carriages but also alone, could be found on the streets of San Francisco in 1893, and Data saw several of these horses when he was accidentally sent there in that time period. (TNG: "Time's Arrow", "Time's Arrow, Part II") Similarly, just after Kirk and Spock arrived in the year 1930 by way of the Guardian of Forever, a white horse was hauling a Victor Ice Company wagon in order to make deliveries in New York City. (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever") By the time automobiles were introduced as the next step ahead of the horsedrawn carriage, horses were no longer necessary for personal transportation. (VOY: "The 37's", "Spirit Folk") However, horsedrawn carriages were still occasionally used. (DS9: "Homefront")
After the USS Enterprise became trapped in the year 1969 and beamed United States Air Force Captain John Christopher aboard, he attempted to escape from the starship, but Captain James T. Kirk knocked him unconscious. Afterwards, Doctor Leonard McCoy reported to Kirk that, aside from a few minor injuries, Captain Christopher was "as healthy as a proverbial horse." (TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday")
A horse race was televised in 1996 and picked up along numerous channels monitored by Neelix and Kes when the USS Voyager was stranded in that year. Horses were also visible in a black-and-white Western which was amongst the many channels. (VOY: "Future's End")
By the mid-22nd century, the horses which the Skagarans had resettled on a planet in the Delphic Expanse were still being used as transportation by the Humans there. In a few cases, two of these horses were used to pull one carriage. This was true in the town of North Star, where a schoolteacher named Bethany had such a carriage. Horses were typically used to travel between North Star and the nearest town, as the distance between these two locations was extremely far.
In North Star, a group of four horses were used by Deputy Bennings, two of his subordinates, and a captive Skagaran man when, in 2153, Bennings and his pair of associates lynched the Skagaran. One of Bennings' men temporarily left his horse to secure the rope around the Skagaran's neck, then, when Bennings fired a pistol into the air, the gunshot caused the Skagaran's horse to fearfully run out from under him, leaving him hanging from a tree as his killers rode away.
Another man on a horse was riding through a street when Captain Jonathan Archer rendezvoused with Commander Trip Tucker and fellow Enterprise crewmember T'Pol, shortly after they arrived in North Star and began investigating the planet. As the trio walked down an adjoining street, the horse continued to carry its rider through the street behind them while another horserider rode his horse past the threesome, on their right side.
Thereafter assigned by Archer to journey to a Skagaran settlement ten kilometers away, T'Pol and Tucker went to acquire horses for riding there. However, a stablehand they talked to was puzzled how they had managed to come to North Star without a horse, considering the nearest town was so far away. T'Pol lied that their horses had perished from heat exhaustion, several miles to the north of North Star, so the stablehand arranged to indeed give them a horse from his stable. This animal was a four-years-old female horse, of good stock. Though the stablehand offered to sell the horse for twenty dollars, Tucker instead traded him a harmonica and left his own gun as collateral, saying they only needed the horse for a couple of hours. Once the stablehand agreed to the deal, the horse was led out of the stable by Tucker, who proceeded to mount the animal. T'Pol was initially reluctant to join him on horseback, because Tucker hadn't had any experience with horse-riding, but he then helped her onto the animal's back. Owing to Tucker's inexperience, the horse was very slow to start.
After Archer and Bethany escaped from Bennings and his cohorts by beaming to Enterprise (following a couple of instances when the pair of fugitives used Bethany's two-horse carriage), Bennings was admonished by Sheriff MacReady as having been "a horse's ass," referring to when Bennings had harassed Draysik, a Skagaran waiter.
Soon afterwards, another horse was frightened by the arrival of a shuttlepod from Enterprise, in which Archer came back to the planet, along with an away team. The scared animal, a black horse with a man sitting on its back, reared up on its hind legs, thrust its front legs in the air, and neighed as the shuttlepod landed. Another unhappily startled horse, this one colored darkbrown, was in a stable when Archer and Bennings fought each other there, even crashing into its stall and proceeding to grapple with each other right next to the irritated creature's legs.
Soon after Enterprise departed from the planet, a brown horse was ridden by a man through a street, straight past Bethany's classroom in the town, as she taught a mixed group of Human and Skagaran schoolchildren about Wilbur and Orville Wright. (ENT: "North Star")
Later the same year, Sim, a clone of Commander Tucker who had the same memories as the commander but thought they were his own, recalled how a pet dog he had once owned, Bedford, had been so large that he had been able to ride him "like a horse." (ENT: "Similitude")
In 2154, while Commander Tucker and Ensign Hoshi Sato were extremely ill with a silicon-based virus, Sato deliriously broke out of medical isolation in Enterprise's decontamination chamber, proving extremely resourceful in escaping. As a result, Doctor Phlox advised Tucker to sedate both Sato and himself with three units of sonambutril, a dosage that Tucker remarked "could drop a horse." (ENT: "Observer Effect")
Christopher Pike once owned two horses, Tango and Mary Lou, prior to his service aboard the USS Enterprise. In 2254, his first officer told Spock that horses were the only thing about which Pike was sentimental. Later that year, he mentioned the horses to his ship's doctor, Phil Boyce (TOS: "The Cage", "The Menagerie, Part I", "The Menagerie, Part II";ST: "Q&A")
In 2257 of the mirror universe, Sylvia Tilly uttered a panicked reference to this type of animal upon attempting to impersonate her counterpart in that universe, Captain "Killy". This was to tell Captain Spoeneman, the commanding officer of the ISS Cooper, to "hold your horses," as the Cooper had been preparing to fire on the starship Tilly was on, the USS Discovery, unless Spoeneman was granted access to speak with her. (DIS: "Despite Yourself")
In the alternate reality created by Nero's temporal incursion, Leonard McCoy was familiar with figurative parlance that related to horses. For example, when criticizing Spock's ejection of James T. Kirk from the USS Enterprise in 2258, McCoy told Spock, "You know, back home we got a saying: 'If you're gonna ride in the Kentucky Derby, you don't leave your prize stallion in the stable.'" However, Spock pointed out that he found this "a curious metaphor," because it was generally accepted that a stallion had to be broken (i.e., trained) before it could reach its potential. (Star Trek) McCoy was also familiar with the term "horseshit" to refer to particular statements that, in hindsight, were completely unhelpful. (Star Trek Beyond)
Later in 2258 of the alternate reality, shortly after Kirk was forcibly dismissed from the Enterprise and thereby came to be marooned on Delta Vega, Montgomery Scott described the notion of transwarp beaming (which Kirk was about to use to return to the Enterprise, along with Scotty) as being like "trying to hit a bullet with a smaller bullet, whilst wearing a blindfold, riding a horse." (Star Trek)
In 2263 of the alternate reality, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, upon emphasizing how technologically outmatched the USS Franklin was to Krall's myriads of swarm ships, stated that the Franklin was "horse and buggy to those things." (Star Trek Beyond)
In 2267 of the prime reality, after a landing party from the USS Enterprise beamed down to the Omicron colony on planet Omicron Ceti III, Lieutenant Sulu noted that they hadn't seen any horses nor any other animals. The team later learned that this was because all the animals which the colonists had brought with them had died from exposure to Berthold rays on the planet's surface. (TOS: "This Side of Paradise")
James T. Kirk's uncle owned a farm in Idaho which contained horses. Kirk often rode his uncle's horses through the countryside and would often jump over a large chasm, an act which "scared the hell" out of him each time. It was during one of these horseback rides, on a spring day in 2282, that Kirk met Antonia. (Star Trek Generations)
In noting Scott's timing with repairing the Enterprise just as they reached Spacedock following the starship's battle with the USS Reliant, Captain Kirk remarked that he "fixed the barn door after the horse has come home." (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
Captain Picard was fond of horseback riding, and actually had a saddle aboard the USS Enterprise-D. (TNG: "Pen Pals", "Starship Mine") He also gave a statue of a horse, created in the Chinese Sung Dynasty, as a gift to the Ligonian ruler Lutan in early 2364. (TNG: "Code of Honor") Although Deanna Troi initially suspected that Picard liked horses for the romance of them, he explained that he, despite not being particularly fond of smaller animals, felt a deeper connection to horses, which led Troi to realize that he did so because he viewed them as companions rather than pets. He clarified that he didn't want to anthropomorphize horses or any other animals. Picard also found horse riding could be extremely relaxing. (TNG: "Pen Pals") On the other hand, Picard's first officer, William T. Riker, considered his own horsemanship to be notably "rusty" in 2367. (TNG: "The Loss")
In 2367, while the Enterprise-D was being pulled along with a cluster of two-dimensional beings into a cosmic string, Deanna Troi told Data, "Horses sometimes run into a burning barn." She said this as a way to verbally demonstrate to him that creatures occasionally move deliberately towards a destructive force, as she believed was happening in the case of the two-dimensional beings and the cosmic string, whereas Data had assumed the aliens were being instinctively but unintentionally drawn towards it. (TNG: "The Loss")
Captain Picard was so interested in horses that, when Commander Calvin Hutchinson mentioned horses in 2369, Picard became immediately fascinated. Though Hutchinson was dismissing the idea of taking horses to the planet Arkaria's southern promontory on account of bad weather, the thought of doing so highly appealed to Picard, so he attempted to obtain his saddle from the Enterprise. Even though he found that the saddle came in handy because he was able to throw it at Devor in self-defense, Picard ultimately regretted that he hadn't gotten a chance to use it on a horse while the Enterprise had been having a baryon sweep. (TNG: "Starship Mine")
Later in 2369, when the imaginations of the Deep Space 9 residents became reality, Julian Bashir created an illusory Jadzia Dax. She recommended to the real Jadzia Dax that she should "get down off [her] high horse," saying that, by doing so, the real Jadzia would begin to appreciate Bashir. (DS9: "If Wishes Were Horses")
Later the same year, when the crew of Voyager discovered a fully functional 1936 Ford truck floating through space in the Delta Quadrant and brought the truck aboard, Captain Janeway identified horse manure on its exterior. (VOY: "The 37's")
Meanwhile, horses were still being used on Earth. In 2372, very soon after Captain Benjamin Sisko agreed to sponsor Nog to be considered for recruitment into Red Squad, a primarily light brown horse, with white nose and legs, pulled a carriage through a New Orleans street outside Sisko's Creole Kitchen, past a series of buildings whose exteriors were overflowing with flowering vegetation. At night, the horse was standing in the same area, still attached to its carriage, as Starfleet security officers began to be beamed into the street and enact martial law. (DS9: "Homefront")
The next year, after the holographic Leonardo da Vinci was stolen from Voyager by a pirate named Tau, Leonardo's workshop, in a city on an alien planet, featured the statue of a horse. (VOY: "Concerning Flight")
Later that year, the Vic Fontaine hologram likened Julian Bashir and Quark to horses, while they were disappointed to have recently learned that Jadzia Dax was considering having a baby with Worf. Said Fontaine, "You take one beautiful, happily married filly, add the possibility of her giving birth to a foal, and what's that leave you? A couple of lovesick stallions that never got out of the starting gate." The solution, in Vic's terms, was to "move on to greener pastures." (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets")
In 2375, Benjamin Sisko figuratively drew a parallel between ships that General Martok planned to deploy and horses used in cavalry raids. Sisko pointed out this similarity because Martok planned to covertly send the ships behind the Dominion's front lines, in the Dominion War, and thereafter do damage to certain key strategic targets, causing chaos for the enemy. (DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach")
When the Talosians captured Christopher Pike and trapped him in their menagerie in 2254, they recreated his horses, Mary Lou and Tango, in a telepathic illusory scenario involving a picnic on the outskirts of Mojave, Pike's hometown. (TOS: "The Cage", "The Menagerie, Part II") The pair of illusory horses also appeared in footage of this experience, which was relayed to the Enterprise in 2267. (TOS: "The Menagerie, Part II")
On the Shore Leave Planet later that year, a black horse was ridden by an armored Black Knight who, with a lance, violently charged firstly at Doctor McCoy and then at Kirk and Spock. After Kirk shot the knight off the horse, the animal came to a stop, and the visitors subsequently discovered that these things had been robotic creations. (TOS: "Shore Leave")
In a bizarre and evidently incomplete Melkotian recreation of the Ancient West town of Tombstone, Arizona from 1881, a brown horse, wearing a saddle, was standing outside the town's sheriff office when, in 2268, a landing party from the USS Enterprise arrived in the scenario. The locale also featured the picture of a black horse in a broadside that was on the side of the town's saloon. In the illustration, the horse was rearing up on its hind legs, with actress Angela Rossini, skimpily clad, pictured on its back. Additionally, a couple of references to the Clanton gang's horse-thieving were made by the illusory occupants of the artificial town (i.e., by Wyatt Earp to Ike Clanton, represented by James Kirk, and by Sylvia to William Claiborne, represented by Pavel Chekov). Later, a horse, which was mostly brown but had a white nose, was standing at the OK Corral during the battle involving the Clantons and the Earps. When the illusory Earps disappeared after losing the battle, the horse remained behind and the away team found themselves back on the Enterprise. (TOS: "Spectre of the Gun")
While Captains Kirk and Picard were together within the Nexus, Kirk prepared to ride a horse out of his uncle's barn to meet Antonia in an attempt to "do things right from day one." Watched by Picard, Kirk rode his horse out of the barn. It was only after having no fear when jumping over the familiar chasm that Kirk realized what he was experiencing was not real. His horse was followed by a horse ridden by Picard and the two met up with each other, Kirk's horse at one point circling Picard's and, moments later, sidling over to be next to it. Even though an illusory duplicate of Antonia appeared on a horse of her own, Kirk nevertheless opted to leave the Nexus with Picard. (Star Trek Generations)
In the 24th century, programs featuring riding horses were stored on the holodeck on the USS Enterprise-D. (TNG: "Pen Pals", "The Loss", et al.) For example, an illusory horse that was seemingly hauling a carriage passed Data, Geordi La Forge, and Doctor Katherine Pulaski, when they entered the holographic depiction of an 1890s London street in Sherlock Holmes Program 3A, while it was running on the Enterprise's holodeck in 2365. (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data") Later that year, Picard, accompanied on foot by Counselor Deanna Troi, prepared to ride a holographic horse in an Equestrian Adventure holoprogram but was interrupted from doing so by a mission undertaken by the Enterprise at the Selcundi Drema sector. (TNG: "Pen Pals") Weeks later, during the same mission, Data found Picard riding a horse in the same holodeck program. (TNG: "Pen Pals"). In 2367, Picard invited Riker to another holoprogram that would have involved horses, with them traveling on an ancient trail along the Kabul River in the Himalayas. Politely declining, however, Riker responded that his horsemanship was probably too "rusty" for him to participate. Picard dismissed Riker's worries and interjected that they would "program an appropriately docile steed," but their conversation was then interrupted by momentary detection of something later determined to be a cluster of two-dimensional lifeforms. (TNG: "The Loss") Also, as depicted by the Enterprise-D's holodeck, a photograph of a horse race was on a wall in a San Francisco office belonging to fictional 1940s private investigator Dixon Hill. (TNG: "The Big Goodbye") The collection of programs available on the holodeck of the USS Enterprise-E also included Equestrian Adventure. (Star Trek: First Contact) In addition, the holoprogram Bashir 62, which was set in mid-20th century Las Vegas, included a copy of the Las Vegas Register with an article on horse racing in its sports section, featuring a horse that had remained unbeaten in twenty starts. (DS9: "It's Only a Paper Moon")
Horse racing was additionally referred to by "Texas", a fictional gambler character who was included in a recreation of a fictional hotel, the Royale, a simulation which was created on planet Theta VIII in 2044. When Commander Riker, Lieutenant Commander Data, and Lieutenant Worf became trapped in the scenario in 2365, Data attempted to acquire enough money to buy their way out of the hotel by cheating at craps using a pair of loaded dice. However, "Texas" at one point decided to bet against Data, who replied that he didn't believe doing so was a prudent choice. "Texas" replied, "Hey, that's what horse racing's about." (TNG: "The Royale")
In a Q-created reenactment of the story of Robin Hood that Picard and some of his crewmembers were unwillingly and unceremoniously placed into in 2367, a black horse carried Sir Guy of Gisbourne into the outskirts of an illusory Sherwood Forest. The horse snorted as Robin, represented by Picard, and his band of Merry Men, who were actually members of Picard's senior staff from the Enterprise, ran deeper into the greenwood, fleeing from Sir Guy and his men. Shortly thereafter, the noise of a horse approaching became audible to Picard and his officers, moments before the animal miraculously appeared; this horse was white with blue reins and carried Q, who had assumed the role of the High Sheriff of Nottingham, to confront Picard and his team. After Q spoke to them while remaining on the horse's back, the animal and its rider miraculously disappeared. (TNG: "Qpid")
While Captain Janeway was trapped in the Q Continuum during the Q Civil War in 2373 and the war was being translated into American Civil War imagery to aid her comprehension of the conflict, a horse was led through Colonel Q's encampment. This was shortly before a firing squad was to execute Janeway and Q, a plan that never came to pass, and was instead superseded by a cease fire in the Continuum. (VOY: "The Q and the Grey")
A subjective illusion of a horse's tail, among various other things, allegedly appeared to the Leonardo da Vinci hologram in early 2374. He told Captain Janeway about it while it was visible to him, whereas she instead merely saw a wall of his workshop, with candlelight reflecting on the wall. (VOY: "Scorpion")
In alien culture
Betazoids disliked riding because of their ability to feel the thoughts and passions of animals. They feared they would get too much involved in those emotions and would "lose [their] way." (TNG: "Pen Pals")
Horse-like animals native to other worlds include the Andorian Zabathu and Klingon sark. (TNG: "Pen Pals") Sometime prior to 2269, horses were also used by the Sarpeidon natives, on the planet Sarpeidon, both riding them directly and using them to pull carriages. (TOS: "All Our Yesterdays") There were also horses on the planet Arkaria. (TNG: "Starship Mine")
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (Nimbus III horses)
- Star Trek Generations (illusory in Nexus)
- DS9: "Homefront"
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
- Star Trek
- Star Trek Beyond
- Centaur, an Earth mythological creature based on a horse
- Donkey, a related animal
- Gift horse, a figurative horse that, traditionally, was given as a gift
- Horse trainer, a person who teaches horses
- Pony, a specific classification of horse
- Rocking horse, a toy
- Sark, a similar type of animal
- Trojan Horse Project, a research project concerning the use of holograms
- Unicorn, an Earth mythological creature based on a horse
- USS Crazy Horse, a Starfleet ship active in the 24th century
- Zabathu, a similar animal
Kirk actor William Shatner is well known as a horse enthusiast and even breeds horses. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (3rd ed., p. 319); Star Trek Generations audio commentary, Star Trek Generations (Blu-ray) special features) McCoy actor DeForest Kelley cited Shatner's enthusiasm for horse riding as one way that he was like James T. Kirk. (The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years) Horses appear in the documentary The Captains, in which Shatner not only hosts the documentary but also teaches Scott Bakula how to horse-ride. However, the reference book Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (3rd ed., p. 319) pointed out that, whereas Kirk's horsemanship wasn't revealed until the film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Picard's equine hobby was established as early as the second season installment "Pen Pals".
Horses were written into the script of Star Trek Generations at the behest of William Shatner. "The introduction of the horses into the movie [...] was a flat-out appeal to Bill to do the movie," explained Ronald D. Moore, "'cause we knew Bill had horses and loved horses. We said, 'We've gotta put horses in this film, so he can ride some horses, because that will get him to do it' [....] And then I think he not only was wise to that, like I remember him giving us the high sign in the script meeting, like he knew that that's why we were doing it." Shatner also got his own back by renting, not loaning, to the production the pair of horses that were ultimately used in the film. (Star Trek Generations audio commentary, Star Trek Generations (Blu-ray) special features)
Riding horses in a Western was one of three very long-held ambitions in acting that actress Jaime Hubbard had, another of which was to be beamed up or down in a Star Trek production. (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 9, p. 24)
Chekov actor Walter Koenig once commented about Star Trek: The Motion Picture, "This was not simply a story that we pulled from a horse opera and made into a science-fiction movie." However, there are parallels between the use of horses in Westerns and vessels in Star Trek. For instance, DS9 writer Bradley Thompson remarked, "By the decisions you make in the show, whether or not it's by space or horses, that is how you define yourself as a human being." (The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years)
After directing Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and shortly prior to the film's release, Leonard Nimoy likened himself to a horse, stating, "I feel kind of like a horse that has been put into the stall before a race. I'm in great shape. I'm ready. I feel good, and I feel well trained. When the gate opens and the horse comes out – this picture comes out – we'll see what happens." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 14, No. 3, p. 11)
Ronald D. Moore commented that TNG: "Force of Nature" was one episode that the TNG writing staff "got on [their] high horses" about, highly eager to do that installment. (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years)
Burton Armus once described Maurice Hurley as "a workhorse." (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years) The reference book Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (3rd ed., p. 216) characterizes the USS Grissom as a "workhorse". The reference book Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 characterizes both the Type 15 shuttlepod and an Angosian police shuttle in TNG: "The Hunted" as a "workhorse".
Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 (p. 36) also describes the notion that the United States of America's financial sector was full of amoral, greed-driven barbaric people as "just the straw horse" Herbert J. Wright had been searching for upon trying to invent a new villainous species for Star Trek: The Next Generation, which eventually became the Ferengi.