The truth about statues of horses?

Apparently, if a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

Someone told me this once. Any of you folks know whether this is true, and where is it true (only in some countries or is it universal?)

If you go to the home page for the Straight Dope at and select the hypertext called Archive you will find a search facility (actually 2 search functions–the one farther down the page has more options). If you enter “equestrian statues” into the search key, the engine will return the following column from the Master: In statues, does the number of feet the horse has off the ground indicate the fate of the rider?

(Unca Cece has answered a lot of the questions that run through out minds in the last 25+ years.)

Another good source for proof/disproof/discussion of potential urban legends like this one is snopes (bookmarking this site is recommended). Running “horse statues” through their search engine produces this page as the first hit.