Posted by Victoria S Dennis on October 16, 2006
In Reply to: Put through your paces posted by Smokey Stover on October 16, 2006
: : : : whrere did the phrase "to be put through your paces"(I.E He really put me through my paces) come form?
: : : From horse training.
: : : SS
: : By the way, here's some information on pacers and trotters from the Kentucky Horse Park site.
: : The Difference Between a Trotter and Pacer
: : A trotter moves its legs diagonally, right front and left hind, then left front and right hind striking the ground simutaneously. A pacer moves its legs laterally, right front and right hind, then left front and left hind striking the ground simultaneously.
: Quite so. The natural or riding gaits of horses include the trot, the walk, the canter and the gallop. Other gaits in which some horses are trained are the pace, the rack and the fox trot. The Encyclopedia Britannica Online is very good on horses, and one article has an animated graphic in which the motion of horses in six gaits is interestingly demonstrated. (See the article on "horsemanship." For more gaits, see "Dressage.")
To be nit-picking (and where can we nitpick if not on this forum?) it's not so much from horse training as horse buying. If you are thinking of
buying a horse, you want to put it through its paces first - that is, to ride it at the walk, trot, canter and gallop (and the rack and the
pace, if it is being advertised as a fancy-gaited horse) to check that it moves easily at all these gaits and is comfortable to ride at all of them. If not, you don't buy it. This is the origin of the figurative use of the phrase: if you "put someone through their paces", you make them demonstrate their competence, or show you what they can do.