cheval ferré à l'envers


Senior Member
English AE/Ireland
Dear Friends, I'm wondering if anyone has ever heard the above expression and if it's a common one.

I've come across it in the following context: a man named Robert is staying in a hotel run by a woman and her daughter-in-law, and he often talks to the two of them,

". . .ce qui lui permet de découvrir plein d'histoires sur la famille, un passé peu glorieux durant la guerre, trafic de bétail, chevaux ferrés à l'envers, le petit monnayage des déarrois, une ferme proche de la frontière. . .ça facilitait la contrebande en tout genre. . ."

The narrator of the story, Robert's friend, isn't sure that the stories the two women are telling him are true:

". . .Agnès a peut-être tendance à parfois exagérer, ai-je objecté à Robert, et des chevaux ferrés à l'envers, il y en a eu beaucoup à l'époque, qui partaient dans les deux sens, c'est un pays de braconniers, et de passeurs. . ."

It appears to me that "un cheval ferré à l'envers" is simply a horse smuggled into a country, brought in illegally. Can anyone confirm this, or does it mean something else? Many thanks for your help.
  • Cold_Sweat

    Senior Member
    Français - France
    Actually the horses were really shoed backwards by poachers, smugglers, etc., in order to trump the police or cover an escape. Obviously it wasn't very practical to ride a horse with reverse shoes.

    Punky Zoé

    Senior Member
    France - français

    I don't think they were smuggling horses but their loads. "les chevaux ferrés à l'envers" are used to try to cover one's track.


    Senior Member
    English AE/Ireland
    Many thanks to all of you for your replies. I hadn't considered the idea that the horses were being used to transport contraband goods rather than themselves being smuggled in. Nor had I considered that "ferré à l'envers" should be interpreted literally. I thought that it would only have some figurative meaning. So thanks for clearing that up.

    (By the way, I believe the past participle of "shoe" is "shod" (rhymes with "god".)
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