Thursday, June 02, 2022

Question from Jane - Learning horse riding

What age were teenagers when they learned how to ride a horse/horse-drawn carriage? Did they learn when they were 16? (Because its the equivalent of learning how to drive cars nowadays, since horses to them were their main source of transportation). Or were they younger or older?


  1. I am hesitant to say this yet again for fear of being accused of "beating a dead horse" (pun intended), but this is yet another question that is based in one or more false premises. In this instance, the question seems to assume that a person might somehow have been prevented from learning to ride because they had not reached a particular birthday, or it assumes that there was some specific age qualification for learning to ride a horse. There was no Department or Ministry of Transportation to regulate the age at which a person was allowed to learn to ride a horse, and a rider was not issued a license to ride. Just as today, people learned to ride a horse at almost any age, so long as they had access to a horse, were physically able to remain on the horse, and able to use the reins, etc. We commonly see children of quite young age riding ponies today, and the same would have been true in Tudor England. The question also seems to assume that horses for transportation (and apparently carriages as well) were as common in Tudor England as automobiles are today, i.e., that every family had one. That is a false assumption. It cost money to own a horse then just as it does today. Horses require feeding and care, and that costs money. The vast majority of families in the Tudor era were *not* wealthy. If they owned a horse at all, it was for working a farm, not for mere transportation. Only persons of wealth (a very small percentage of the population) could afford to keep horses that were used solely for transportation. As for carriages, where would one ride them? There was no Department of Public Works to maintain roads in Tudor England. Instead, roads were rough dirt tracks full of ruts, and they turned into muddy quagmires when it rained. The very wealthy might have a box on four wheels with a canvas cover (a “tilt”), but they lacked springs and offered a very uncomfortable ride. Carriages in the modern sense, with doors and steps and upholstered seats, did not come into existence until the second half of the 1500s, and even then only for the very wealthy.

  2. Thanks for teaching me something new! I wondered ‘cause my 15 year old son just got his learners permit, I can’t wait to see his dad teach him a new skill, and become more independent!

  3. Learning to ride a horse and learning to drive a car (even today) are similar, but they are NOT the same. I’ve done both, and I’ve obviously watched someone behind the wheel, vs. someone riding a horse, or controlling a horse-drawn carriage, or horse-n’-buggy. The horse(s) can sometimes still decide to go somewhere you don’t want them to go, whereas with a car, more up to a point, you can “control” how/where the car is going/needs to turn, (unless, of course, something’s gone wrong with the car, in which case you should try not to panic, and just turn on your hazard signal, try to slow down, and if you can, just stop the car completely after pulling over, by parking, and call/ask for help).
    However, horses can get into a dangerous territory, as well. It’s not just “jumping yourself onto the horse” and whipping it to make it go, like you may see in 1800s set western stories, that’s more Hollywood! If you treat a horse like that, in real life, you could get yourself, and/or the horse injured or even killed! The one piece of advice that should be the same is NEVER ride/try to control a horse(s), or drive a car/vehicle, when upset or angry, because if you do, either way, the consequences would be deadly! If you do get/feel angry, resentful, upset, or any kind of negative emotion, you need to stop handling/riding the horse, or if driving a car, then stop, pull over, and either try to calm down, or call it quits for a while, or for the day!


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