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The Horse

Ronald Duncan's sister Bunny (Bianca) with his favourite horse, Dil Fareb

Reverse of photo showing Dil Fareb's pedigree

The Horse

Where in this wide world can
man find nobility without pride,
friendship without envy or beauty
without vanity? Here, where
grace is laced with muscle, and
strength by gentleness confined.

He serves without servility; he has
fought without enmity. There is
nothing so powerful, nothing less
violent, there is nothing so quick,
nothing more patient.

England’s past has been borne on
his back. All our history is his
industry; we are his heirs; he 
our inheritance.

- Ronald Duncan

Thoroughly ingrained in British equestrian culture through being read each year to close the Horse of the Year Show, this poem is, in all probability, Duncan’s most famous piece of stand-alone writing. Often referred to as Ode to the Horse, it was written at the behest of Duncan’s friend Colonel Sir Mike Ansell who was the director of the show at the time. The poem was intended to celebrate horses and their role in England’s culture and history. Duncan himself was a keen equestrian who rode and bred Arab horses, his favourite of which was named Dil Fareb.

Reproducing The Horse

The Ronald Duncan Estate has kindly made this poem free to reproduce.  If you wish to reproduce the poem we ask that you contact the estate at with details of where it is to appear. In addition you must acknowledge Ronald Duncan as the author and use the credit line © Ronald Duncan Estate.