Horses have hoofs. Chuang Tzu

Wild Equus

“I think one who knows how to govern the empire should not do so”

– Chuang Tzu, c. 369-286 BC –



An excerpt from the Mâ Thî, or the ‘Horses’ Hoofs’ parable by the philosopher Chuang Tzu and translated by Herbert Giles (1926), warning against those who excessively brag about knowing. Interestingly, the parable uses horses as an example of how ‘know-how’ often clashes with nature.

Horses have hoofs to carry them over frost and snow; hair, to protect them from wind and cold. They eat grass and drink water, and fling up their heels over the prairies. Such is the real nature of horses. Palatial dwellings are of no use to them.

One day Poh Loh appeared saying, “I understand the management of horses.”

So he branded them, and clipped them, and paired their hoofs, and put halters on them, tying up their heads and…

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