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close the stable door after the horse has bolted

To try to prevent or rectify a problem after the damage has already been done. It isn't worth replacing the oil filter on the engine now—you can't close the stable door after the horse has bolted.
See also: after, bolt, close, door, horse, stable

lock the stable door after the horse has bolted

To try to prevent or rectify a problem after the damage has already been done. My father quit smoking after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, but I'm afraid he's locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.
See also: after, bolt, door, horse, lock, stable

cleanse the Augean stables

To rid a place or entity of an accumulation of something (often corruption). In Greek mythology, Hercules was tasked with cleansing the Augean stables—which had not been cleaned in 30 years. The town council is so full of corruption that I'm skeptical that any new member can cleanse the Augean stables.
See also: stable

Shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.

 and Lock the stable door after the horse is stolen.
Prov. To try to prevent something that has already happened; to act too late. When Ray heard that the bank had failed, he tried to withdraw his money, but there was no money to withdraw. He was shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted. Jenny has stopped smoking since the doctor told her that her lungs were in bad shape, but I'm afraid she's locking the stable door after the horse is stolen.
See also: after, bolt, door, horse, shut, stable

closing/shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted

trying to stop something bad happening when it has already happened and the situation cannot be changed Improving security after a major theft would seem to be a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

lock the barn door after the horse has bolted

Also, lock the stable door after the horse is stolen. Take precautions after damage has occurred. For example, After the burglary they installed an alarm system, but it's locking the barn door, or Deciding to negotiate now after they've been fired-that's a matter of locking the stable door after the horse is stolen . These expressions of action that is useless because it comes too late have long been proverbs in many languages and first appeared in English in the mid-1300s.
See also: after, barn, bolt, door, horse, lock
References in periodicals archive ?
While this may be enough exercise for the average man's lifetime, Stabler believes there is more to come from the North East's number one Iron Man.
Beckett and Aley's study of Byron and Newstead, set in comparison with Stabler, makes even more evident the problem of defining a 'Romantic' epoch.
Intercept, GC/MS method n Slope [micro]mol/L Stabler 94 1.
Stabler must attempt to lift spirits after just one win in 13 games ahead of today's home clash with second placed Altrincham Kersal.
Coun Stabler said: "In these times of high unemployment, there is no finer occupation than gardening and I wish the project every success.
The placard read: "Used in proposal of marriage to Marisa Stabler.
LSH will have to manage without the extremely lively Greg Smith at fly-half, but can call on Chris Stabler, to take his place.
Nobody has had to endure more than detective Stabler (Christopher Meloni), a veteran cop and family man who is watching his oldest daughter mature and knows too well what kinds of perverts there are.
Lou Diamond Phillips plays a sociopathic murderer/molester who abducts two children, a case that drives Detective Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) to become increasingly unstable.
These double emulsions, described in the April 22 Science, are stabler than single emulsions, which are commonly used for encapsulating flavors and other types of food additives, says lead investigator David Weitz.
But Russell Earnshaw's try just a minute later, converted by man of the match John Stabler, put West ahead and they never looked back.
Stabler, Class of 1930, a successful businessman who dedicated much of his life to leadership and service.
35pm) Stabler and Tutuola investigate an eight-year-old boy's claims that he has been abused.
With the deputy Lord Mayor to cut the ribbon are (left to right) Jean Parks (treasurer, over 60s group), Margaret Garby (committee member, over 60s group), Nancy Froggett (over 60s group), Sarah Stabler (acting secretary, Life Centre), Eileen Brown (over 60s group), Jean Marsden (chair, over 60s group), Ray Stabler (vice-chair, Life Centre), Gill Matthews (committee member, Life Centre), Kath Stabler (chair, Life Centre).
Barbara Stabler, 62, said: "They dug the grave on "Christmas Day night.