blind men on galloping horses

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blind men on galloping horses

Post by Tony Farg » Tue Jun 12, 2007 5:40 pm

When my dad was making something, or painting something, or wallpapering etc, if the perfection of the finish were less than perfect (i.e. he had messed it up in some way, but not too badly) he would often say "well, a blind man on a galloping horse wouldn't see it".
The obviousness of this is beyond all doubt, but it was said in such a way as to really indicate that even a sighted person standing still would not see it.
Does anyone have any idea where this saying came from?
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blind men on galloping horses

Post by gdwdwrkr » Tue Jun 12, 2007 6:04 pm

Tony, appreciating "if the perfection of the finish were
less than perfect"...the motto on my business card is
"Specializing in imperfection."

We always said, "A blind man would love to see it."
Or
"It'll look good from Route 81."
Origins have to be prehistoric.
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blind men on galloping horses

Post by Shelley » Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:49 pm

Along these lines: "Well, it may not be perfect but at least it won't be rusty."
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blind men on galloping horses

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:15 am

I have never heard the expression before Tony, but I know that my friends and relations will, shortly and quite often I should think!

@ @
.0.
\_/
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blind men on galloping horses

Post by spud » Sat Jun 23, 2007 7:34 pm

What a pleasure to meet that saying again! I've heard it only from my father (1904-1992). From time to time I use it, with relish. In fact his version (and thus my own) is rather longer: 'A blind man on a galloping horse on a dark night wouldn't see too much wrong with *that*.'

He was born and bred in Hampshire, by the way.

Sorry I can't offer a direct answer to your question, Tony.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:22 am

Tony, I couldn’t find any precise origin for what appears to be this folk or proverbial expression A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE WOULDN’T SEE IT, but I can discuss some of its possible roots. These types of expressions are often recorded in early books of proverbs and folk sayings without much in the way of specific dates or explanation. So it is often difficult to impossible to say very much about their origins

The concept of a ‘blind man seeing’ is probably as old as humanity. In the King James Version of the Bible (Mathew 9:27-31, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43) Jesus makes blind men see. The proverb A BLIND MAN WOULD BE GLAD TO SEE IT (which James mentioned above), appeared in Jonathan Swift’s Polite Conversations, Dialogue 1, 1738, as listed in the Wordsworth Dictionary of Proverbs by Apperson.

The earliest example I found which combined ‘blind man’ and ‘galloping horse’ was from 1894 in Folk Phrases of Four Countries by G. F. Northall: A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE WOULD BE GLAD TO SEE IT. And the next example, IT’LL NEVER BE SEEN ON A GALLOPING HORSE, was from 1951 (see quote below), which was apparently popular among mid-20th century quilters. But the first quote I found using the exact wording A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE WOULDN’T SEE IT was from 2005 (see quote below) and the second was from 2006. However, although these quotes do refer to statements made by the writer’s parents, that doesn’t get us very far back in history at all. So the latest forms may be fairly modern expressions or perhaps they are somewhat older, but have not been recorded, or at least recorded in places that I have access to.

And then there is the reversed expression, which probably came into existence, in the spoken word at least, after the above expressions did, says that something is so obvious that even A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE COULD SEE it (see 2000, 2003, 2003 quotes below).
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The following is a discussion on the subject of expressions related to IT’LL NEVER BE SEEN ON A GALLOPING HORSE, but unfortunately it doesn’t provide much in the way of etymology (origins and dates), but does include the exact expression A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE WOULDN’T SEE IT, which was provided by a chap in Ireland, which is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from where Alan’s (a.k.a. Spud) father (see his quote above) was born.

From Blog by Martha Barnette co-host of NPR’s A Way With Words, February 07, 2006

It'll Never Be Seen on a Galloping Horse
The other day a caller reminded us of one of the most wonderfully liberating expressions in all of the English language: It'll never be seen on a galloping horse.

This caller told us that her mother used to say this whenever she was talking about something that "wasn't perfect, but was good enough." It seems this phrase is popular among quilters in particular. (As in, "Maybe my stitches don't match up perfectly, but doggone it, they're good enough!")

It's a great expression, isn't it? There's the wonderful, galloping rhythm of it -- and then there's the delicious hyperbole. Of course you wouldn't see whatever it is on a galloping horse! A nice lesson in keeping one's perspective, no?

Several listeners have since called and emailed us with variations of this phrase. Kelly from San Diego had heard it as you can't see dust on a galloping filly. Patrick called from Madison, Wisconsin to report that in his native Ireland, the expression is: A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE WOULDN’T SEE IT. (Another vivid version I've seen: A blind man running for his life wouldn't see it)

In any case, the next time I'm tempted to overwork something I'm writing, I'm going to make myself think of galloping horses and move on. Which is why I'm hitting the "post" button right now.
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<1951 “When she held up one of her uneven seams for inspection, she consoled herself by saying, ‘IT’LL NEVER BEEN SEEN ON A GALLOPING HORSE.’”—‘The Witch Diggers’ by Jessamyn West, page 217>

<1951 “Glamor, say those supposedly in the know, is on its way back. . . .Don Loper, one of the town’s [[Hollywood]] leading drapers of the feminine form, says he called this turn seven years ago. . . . Dietrich [[Marlene]], to Loper as well as many others, personifies the ultimate glamor. He costumed her for a recent western. She was particular about ‘the beading under the beading THAT’S NEVER SEEN ON A GALLOPING HORSE — but she felt right in it.”—‘The Progress’ (Clearfield, Pennsylvania), 10 October>

<1954 “When she held up one of her uneven seems for inspection, she consoled herself by saying, IT’LL NEVER BE SEEN ON A GALLOPING HORSE . . .”—‘Texas Folklore’ by M. C. Boatright, page 215>

<1996 “As Paul himself said recently: You would have to be A BLIND MAN GALLOPING ON A HORSE NOT TO SPOT the similarity between Oasis and the Beatles.”—‘Daily Record’ (Glasgow, Scotland), 31 December>

<2000 “. . . she can’t stop herself from continuing to push for environmental cleanups. ‘A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE COULD SEE some of these problems, but the government can’t, she said.’”—‘The Intelligencer’ (Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 3 September, page 8>

<2001 “You must have sewed that with a red hot needle and a burning thread, but IT WILL NEVER BE SEEN ON A GALLOPING HORSE . . .”—‘A Texas Folklore Odyssey’ by Abernethy and Thompson, page 82>

<2002 “To put it bluntly I [[Ternent]] am embarrassed to be the gaffer of this team. We were woeful, everything went wrong, A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE COULD SEE THAT.”—‘The Independent’ (London, England), 5 October>

<2003 “How good is Freddy Adu, the prodigy of American soccer? . . . Says D.C. United coach Ray Hudson, who watched Freddy train with his team for a week last fall, ‘A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE CAN SEE his talent.’”—‘Sports Illustrated,’ 3 March>

<2005 “Silly Things Your Mom & Dad Used to Say: Whenever I was worried about my hair being slightly out of place or something my mum would say ‘A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE WOULDN’T SEE IT!”—www.bluelight.ru/vb/archive/index.php/t-231119.html>

<2006 “When the garment was all finished, if the hem was a little crooked, or the waist a little high or low, or a buttonhole not quite aligned with the button, mother's favorite saying was ‘IT WILL NEVER BE SEEN ON A GALLOPING HORSE!’ In other words, she was saying ‘Don't worry. No one will notice.’ In the greater scheme of life, I think she was also teaching us to ‘not sweat the small stuff.’ It's a piece of advice I've tried to use in my life.”—‘ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’ (Wisconsin), 14 May>

<UndatedTHEY SAID: EVEN A BLIND MAN ON A GALLOPING HORSE COULD SEE IT. WE SAY: It's really obvious.”—(http://www.rootsweb.com/~genepool/amerispeak/senses.htm)
(from the web and various archived sources)
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Ken – June 27, 2007
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blind men on galloping horses

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:36 am

With all those hordes of blind men galloping around on horses being such an obvious menace to other road users in the past (except to each other, of course), I can't help feeling grateful that someone else had the good sense to hurry up and invent the internal combustion engine, a major contributor to road safety.

Ken, I can see that we'll have to agree that what comprises "a hop, skip, and a jump" must be in the eye of the beholder; it would help considerably if all such beholders were seated astride galloping horses, preferably in a large and deserted car park.

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blind men on galloping horses

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:37 pm

Erik, That’s true. From my perspective (I'm not that far from Texas) a hop, skip, and a jump is less than an ocean but could be something out U.K. way as large as a country (or over here, as big as a very small state). (&lt)
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Ken – June 28, 2007
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Re: blind men on galloping horses

Post by Georgie10 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:01 pm

I Googled "Blind man on a galloping horse..." because I recently used the phrase and no one knew what I was talking about.

My Grandmother (1904 - 1992) was born in Australia and moved to the UK to live with us when I was 7 (1978). She had some unusual sayings and references at her disposal!

She had been a professional seamstress and taught my sisters and me to sew. She would use the expression "A blind man on a galloping horse would be pleased to see it" when we were worried about mistakes etc.

I was interested to find a couple references to the use of the phrase and needlework and quilting.

I enjoy using her phrases etc because it reminds me of her. She was a wonderful woman!!
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Re: blind men on galloping horses

Post by JerrySmile » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:30 pm

beautiful saying
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Re: blind men on galloping horses

Post by mdpilter » Wed Aug 26, 2015 11:50 am

Approx 60 years ago, when I was 8, on a visit to the city of Durham, my Father used the expression. We were standing next to a statue of a man on a galloping horse. My Father told me the one person who could find fault with the statue was a blind man. He discovered by feel that the horse had no tongue in its partially opened mouth,
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Re: blind men on galloping horses

Post by mariarose » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:07 am

My grandma passed it down to my mom when they were sewing together, thusly: "On a galloping horse at night, no one will ever know." My mom in turn passed it on to me when she was teaching me to sew. Now in my mind, I remember it as "On a galloping horse at midnight, no one will ever know", but mom swears it was just "night". I still say midnight, and now that I see so many variations, I feel better about that. I have been looking for some thread like this, it is also nice to see it is so endearing to other people too!
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Re: blind men on galloping horses

Post by Bobinwales » Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:40 pm

All the variations are lovely, thank you for them Mariarose.
Some names from the past on this thread.
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