In June 2022, the internet was introduced to a new “anti-work hero,” Sugar the horse, when a photograph went viral attached to a caption claiming that this animal would lie down and pretend to sleep in order to avoid work.
The Twitter account for the Jim Rose Circus wrote: “Meet Sugar, she doesn’t like to be ridden. If Sugar is approached with a saddle she lyes down and pretends to be asleep. Sugar refuses to open her eyes until the riders leave.”
While this tweet racked up hundreds of thousands of likes, and while many claimed that they had found their “spirit animal,” there doesn’t appear to be any truth to this claim. This photograph is several years old and it was not originally shared with any claims about an anti-work horse named Sugar.
The picture has been online since at least 2017. It appears to have been taken by a person named “Karen Arnold” and is currently available on the stock photography website publicdomainpictures.net, where it is simply titled “horse sleeping.”
When this photograph first started circulating circa 2017, it was shared as if it simply showed a contented horse sleeping on the grass. When we reached out to the Jim Rose Circus for comment, they acknowledged that this caption wasn’t meant as a literal description of the pictured horse. However, they said that this wasn’t a “joke,” and that the caption described a “life hack from a horse’s perspective”:
Not my horse. Not a joke. It was meant to be a bigger message about a life hack from a horses perspective that humans can relate to. The tweet was for my followers who know me differently than the viral universe.
This photograph does not show a horse named Sugar who would pretend to sleep in order to avoid work. This caption was added to a years-old photograph of a sleeping horse in order to illustrate a “life hack.”