History of HORSE basketball game

I have no idea where this question goes – should it be here, IMHO, or the games forum? I decided here because it’s sort of a history question, but of course the Mods should move if appropriate.

With the coronavirus effectively stopping most sporting events, ESPN is running a HORSE championship for charity. AIUI, one player makes a fancy shot, and the other player tries to replicate it. If that player fails he/she gets a letter of the word “horse.” Letters are assigned in order and the first player who spells “horse” loses.

My question: Why is the word “horse” used? Mr. Middon says he’s seen the game using the word “smack” but of course there are thousands of five-letter words that would work.

Moderator Action

Moving thread from GQ to the Game Room.

I don’t know the answer, but I can add that PIG is common for a shorter game. I have also seen HORSES used for a slightly longer game. I personally have never seen anyone use SMACK or anything else. For me it has always been either HORSE or PIG.

Why farm animals? No idea.

I was lousy at the game as I was at most sports. As a joke I suggested we play Mississippi instead. I was astounded when the others agreed, and as I had originally thought once you got into the s’s people began to lose track.

We played other versions as kids. It was well known as HORSE, but sometimes we’d play PIG or SHIT for a short game, or use the name of someone we didn’t like.

I can tell you the game was invented no earlier than 1891. At least not the basketball version.

Horse was more popular than pig as a kid because you could call the miss-er a ‘ho’ and a ‘hor’(sic).

Heh, so we weren’t the only kids delighted to call each other “ho” when playing.

Actually it was like this…

“H” is just “H”.

“HO” was “ho”.

“HOR” we pronounced “whore”.

“HORS” was “whores”.

And then of course “HORSE”.

I also remember “HORSES” a few times, I don’t remember playing “PIG” or anything else as a kid. (This was in the mid 80s to mid 90s in my case.)

Once, when the kids were little, we played AUSTRALOPITHECUS/PIG to give me a proper handicap. It’s been long enough ago that I don’t remember who won, but I remember that they thought it was hilarious.

Is the game ever played by players actually, y’know, on horseback? Sounds like a sort of event one might see at a gymkhana. :slight_smile:

(How many readers here have ever seen the sport known as “horse vaulting”? Yes, people (mostly little kids, and mostly female) doing gymnastics, not on a side-horse or a long-horse, but on the back of a real live horse, with the horse moving at the canter!)