phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Kick over the traces

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 28, 2006

In Reply to: Kick over the traces posted by Bob on December 28, 2006

: : : Can you add the phrase "Kick over the traces" with its meaning please

: : A horse is harnessed to a carriage, wagon or cart with traces, which are the leather straps that run horizontally along the horse's sides. If through overexcitement or excess of energy the horse starts to buck and kick out, if it isn't quickly brought under control it may manage to kick right over the traces, i.e. get its leg over these straps. Your horse and cart are now in a horrid mess - a bit like having your dog wrap its lead round your legs and a lamp-post, but much more dangerous and harder to disentangle. (VSD)

: It this something used metaphorically? Used currently, or now archaic?

It's used metaphorically for people who are supposed to follow certain rules and protocols, but get out of line--deliberately. With horses it's sometimes hard to say what's deliberate or not. Humans who kick over the traces do it on purpose, but sometimes they are provoked. If you yank somebody's chain, he may kick over the traces. Sorry about the mixed metaphor. Sometimes kicking over the traces is a bid for freedom of a sort, frequently on the part of humans, sometimes on the part of horses. But someone else will have to supply examples.