nostril-flapping gallop


Senior Member
Russian - Belarus
The book is "Educated" by Tara Westover

Of all Shawn’s [Tara's brother] horses, there was only one—a seven-year-old buckskin named Apollo—who might have been old enough, and calm enough, to do it: to explode in furious speed, a nostril-flapping gallop
Does nose-flapping mean moving alae of nose up and down? Can it be a synonym for flare?
Thanks a lot :)
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It specifically refers to the horse’s nostrils, not his nose. The concept of flared nostrils is quite common and is often applied to horses. This example is from the British National Corpus:

    … signs of tension and fear are a tight mouth, stiff neck, and flared nostrils. Horses are very sensitive to signs of tension in humans, too.

    However, in this case nostril-flapping implies the effects of high speed rather than fear.


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    A horse can flare its nostrils voluntarily. The use of "flapping" here (which is a word you might use to describe a flag flapping in a strong wind) suggests involuntary movement of the nostrils caused by the speed of the galloping, both as a result of the wind in the horse's face, and the jolting motion each time the horse's hoof strike the ground.
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