phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|

He was made to ride the wooden horse

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on December 20, 2005

In Reply to: He was made to ride the wooden horse posted by Mathieu on December 20, 2005

: I would like to know what this expression mean : he was made to ride the wooden horse.

: Tank you

By Googling on "to ride the wooden horse" I got a number of hits. It seems to have been a military punishment in olden times by the English army and perhaps some others.

This is from one of the websites I found, which is reprinted from an 1896 book called "Curious Punishments of Bygone Days":

"Another common punishment for soldiers (usually for rioting or drinking) was the riding the wooden horse. In New Amsterdam the wooden horse stood between Paerel street and the Fort, and was a straight, narrow, horizontal pole, standing twelve feet high. Sometimes the upper edge of the board or pole was acutely sharpened to intensify the cruelty. The soldier was set astride this board, with his hands tied behind his back. Often a heavy weight was tied to each foot, as was jocularly said, "to keep his horse from throwing him." Garret Segersen, a Dutch soldier, for stealing chickens, rode the wooden horse for three days, from two o'cjock to close of parade, with a fifty-pound weight tied to each foot, which was a severe punishment. In other cases in New Amsterdam a musket was tied to each foot of the disgraced man. One culprit rode with an empty scabbard in one hand and a pitcher in the other to show his inordinate love for John Barleycorn. Jan Alleman, a Dutch officer, valorously challenged Jan de Fries, who was bedridden; for this cruel and meaningless insult he, too, was sentenced to ride the wooden horse, and was cashiered.