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One of my coworkers (from the American midwest) said, "Hold up a minute, I saw the horse flinch." We weren't talking about horses or anything nearly related, but he then proceeded to ask a question that might have been skeptical or expressing disagreement. So I suspect this is an idiom, but I've never heard of it, and Google fails me.

What does "I saw the horse flinch" mean?

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  • Wow, that's a new one on me. And google shows no results other than veterinary content. I'm inclined to say your coworker was just using a spontaneous (and somewhat baroque) personal metaphor. Oct 22, 2021 at 16:53
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    If I had to try to parse a meaning, it would be: Horses are known to be "skittish," easily startled or "spooked" by danger or sudden movement. A horse flinching could be taken as a warning sign to look closely for a source of concern like a rattlesnake or rockslide. A somewhat similar but established idiom is "a canary in a coalmine," to indicate an early warning of otherwise undetected danger. Oct 22, 2021 at 16:56
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    I’m voting to close this question because it's asking about a usage that has little (or no) currency. All we have is a single isolated example that the OP remembers encountering, but which isn't meaningfully available to us for further examination. Oct 22, 2021 at 17:14
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    Why not ask your colleague what he meant?
    – user 66974
    Oct 22, 2021 at 18:35
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    In Britain we might very well say, if a very controversial or new action were suggested, particularly one that might upset very conservative-minded people, that it might not be wise because 'we don't want to frighten the horses' Oct 23, 2021 at 11:54

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