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The folk story of the animals "....a galloping sound was heard, and the Horse appeared. Hidden on the Horse's hoof was the Snake, whose sudden appearance gave the Horse a fright, thus making it fall back and giving the Snake the 6th spot, while the Horse placed 7th...."
The 12 animals for the Chinese zodiac must have been developed in the early stage of Chinese civilization for hundreds of years until it become the current edition; and it’s very hard to investigate the real origin.
The Shēngxiào (Chinese: 生肖), better known in English as the Chinese Zodiac, is a scheme, a systematic plan of future action, that relates each year to animal and its reputed attributes, according to a 12-year mathematical cycle. It has wide currency in several East Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan.