you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink

you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink

proverb You can give someone an advantage or provide them with an opportunity, but you can't force them to do something if they don't want to. A: "I just don't understand. We've given him the very best education and introduced him to the right people, but he just won't pursue a meaningful career." B: "Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."
See also: but, can, drink, horse, lead, make, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink

Even favorable circumstances won't force one to do something one doesn't want to, as in We've gotten all the college catalogs but he still hasn't applied-you can lead a horse to water . This metaphoric term dates from the 12th century and was in John Heywood's proverb collection of 1546. It is so well known that it is often shortened, as in the example.
See also: but, can, drink, horse, lead, make, to, water
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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