Hi Ginny (and everyone
else at the Honey Hollow Pony Club)!
Thanks for your question!
Some people think the horse's frog is named that because it resembles,
in shape and texture, the amphibian. They are both roughly triangular
and slightly squishy.
However, there's also a story -- true or not-- that relates the
In the 1800's in Scotland there was a club called Society of the
Horseman's Word. Horse trainers, blacksmiths, and other horseman
would join to learn horsemanship skills. Elder members of this
masonic-like society were reputed to have supernormal abilities
to understand and control horses. Apparently this Scottish club
was only one of several such societies during this time (for horsemen
and people with other interests).
Supposedly the society
passed down from horseman to horseman a secret word or phrase
that would control horses... a word that, when spoken to a horse,
would instantly make him follow every comand or wish. There was
a demand for those that knew the Word. Such an individual could
make a wild horse calm and manageable, or a stubborn horse agreable.
These "horse whisperers"
as they were called practiced both horsemanship and witchcraft.
Initiation ceremonies included reading passages from the Bible
backwards in order to summon the devil. Passwords, handshakes,
and salutes were used to keep their rituals and practices secret.
They carried talismans and charms for good luck, and used oils
and scents to influence horses. They would use a strong scent
to 'jade' a horse, or make it refuse to move. Other oils and herbs
would do the opposite, and restore the horse back to normal or
have a calming influence on the horse. For this reason, they were
also called 'horse-witches'.
One of the most important charms that they carried was a bone
of a frog or toad. Part of the initiation ceremony required novices
to kill a toad, and leave it on a whitethorn bush for 24 hours
to dry. Then, the toad was put in an anthill and left for a month,
so the ants would eat everything off but the bones. It was removed
from the anthill and tossed into a running stream during a full
moon. The horseman would watch the bones come apart in the water
until the pelvis bone floated free (it's said to have floated
upstream against the current). This bone is very similar in shape
to the horse's frog. It was kept by the horseman and supposedly
used to bewitch or control horses.
This, then, could be the reason that part of the horse's hoof
is named after a frog; this almost forgotten society with its
bizarre rituals is the only link I can find that relates the two.
The Society of the Horseman's Word was at its peak in 1870's and
lasted up until the 1930's. The Society may still exist in remote
parts of Scotland.