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What is the meaning of the Horse leg position in a statue of a hero?

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It is a common misconception that the position of the horse's legs in a military hero's statue signifies how the rider died; i.e. both legs raised means that the rider was killed in battle, one leg raised means the rider died later of wounds caused in battle, all four legs on the ground means the rider died of natural causes.


This is not correct, however. There are two prime examples which refute this explanation. The well-known statue of Andrew Jackson in New Orleans (duplicated in Nashville and Washington, D.C.) in which the horse has two legs raised, yet Jackson died of old age in 1845, and the statue of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard (who commanded the forces which fired on Ft. Sumter to start the Civil War), also in New Orleans, in which the horse has one leg raised, yet General Beauregard also died of old age in 1893. In these statues, both Jackson and Beauregard are dressed in full military uniform.


Undoubtedly there are instances where the position of the horses legs might seem to confirm such significance, but these are merely coincidental, not a rule.
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