“The Salt Horse Song”


The singer conducts a dialog with an old horse, which has been salted and sent aboard ship. He is not too thrilled about such a diet, but there is little he can do. He proves that it is horsemeat by showing a horseshoe in the meat barrel


Sailors referred to pickled beef as "salt horse," probably partly because it tasted so bad and partly because they suspected contractors of mixing in the occasional bit of horsemeat. From there it wasn't much of a stretch to this song. - RBW

Cross references


  1. Flanders/Olney, p. 226, "The Salt Horse Song"; pp. 226-227, "Old Hoss, Old Hoss" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  2. BrownIII 227, "Old Horse, Old Horse" (1 short text)
  3. Linscott, pp. 142-144, "Old Horse" (1 short text, 1 tune)
  4. Doerflinger, pp. 21-22, "Blow the Man Down (V)" (this last text combines the words of "The Salt Horse Song" with the tune & metre of "Blow the Man Down"); p. 160, "The Sailor's Grace" (2 texts, tune referenced)
  5. Hugill, pp. 556-557, "The Sailor's Grace" (3 texts, 2 tunes) [AbEd, pp. 393-394]
  6. Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 279-281, "Old Horse" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Smith/Hatt, p. 44, "Old Hoss" (1 text)
  8. Roud #3724
  9. BI, FO226


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1851 (Journal of John Gorman of the transport ship Minden)
Keywords: dialog horse ship
Found in: US(MA,NE) Canada(Mar)