The Ancient Chinese Story of the Old Man Who Lost His Horse

chinese old man and his horse

The next time you are falling into a state of fear over something that is happening in your life that you perceive as being bad or negative, remind yourself of the ancient Chinese story of the old man and his horse.

There once was an old man named Sai Weng who lived with his son on the outskirts of the country. They both enjoyed riding horses and also raised horses for a living.

Then one day, Sai Weng lost one of his most prized horses. A servant ran in and reported to the old man:

One of your prized steeds has gone missing. It seems the horse has ran across to the neighboring country.

After hearing of the misfortune, some of the old man’s friends and neighbors felt sorry for him and came to comfort him:

We give you our sympathy, old friend, how unfortunate to lose such a fine steed! Alas, such misfortune…

However, the old man simply smiled and said:


After a while, a strange thing occurred. The lost horse returned, bringing back with it another beautiful horse from the neighboring country.

After hearing the news this time, once again the old man’s friends and neighbors came over and this time congratulated him on his good fortune:

Congratulations old friend! How fortunate to regain your lost steed plus gain another fine steed. You have doubled your money!

However, once again the old man simply smiled and said:


One day, his son went out for a ride on the fine new steed. Suddenly, he lost control and fell from the horse and broke his leg. The doctor gave his prognosis: his son would never be able to walk again.

Once more, the old man’s friends and neighbors came over to comfort him:

We are very sorry for your loss. How great a misfortune to lose your legs at such a young age…

But the old man was still unfazed and simply said:


A year later, the Emperor’s army arrived at the village to recruit all able-bodied men to fight in a war. Most young men who fought died on the battlefield.

However, because of his injury, Sai Weng’s son was not drafted to join the army, and was thus spared from certain death.

The Takeaway

Life, by its very nature, is unpredictable and complex. Our concepts and beliefs regarding luck and misfortune, good and bad, are very limited since we can never see the big picture nor predict the future.

Sometimes things may happen to you which you believe are a good and a blessing but may turn out to actually be a detrimental and akin to a curse.

On the flip side, sometimes misfortune or a seemingly bad situation occurs but later on may turn out to be fortuitous and good. A blessing in disguise.

Shift your perspective and you shift how you see everything in reality. Stay within a neutral space and you will allow what is best for you at any given time to come through and manifest.