The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians. (Andrew Clarke and GH) These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Tinker and Dodman

All Farm-horses on East Anglian farms had names, and one had to use a special dialect to talk to them. The names were few and seem to have been used constantly right across the region

If one wandered into a harness-room on a busy farm, which was usually kept warmer and drier than many of the farmers' own rooms, you'd see names on the wall. These would be Blossom, Bowler, Boxer, Captain, Darby, Depper, Dodman, Duke, Ginger,Gypsy, Kitty, May Prince, Punch, Rosie, Short, Smiler, Tinker, Tulip, and Violet. The names were constant because the names were engraved in brass on the harness, and painted in the stables, so outlived the animals. The names seem to have been given according to the character of the foal, Dodman to a slow steady animal, Depper to an active mare, and so on. What is odder is that the names did not seem to vary from farm to farm; the names in South Essex would be the same as in Suffolk.

The words for the harness were esoteric too, the dutfin for the bridle, pad for a saddle, backstraps, britchens, hames (plough hames and cart hames), top latches and wanty.

Horses seemed to understand a standard set of commands, common to most of the local farms. 'Cuppi-wi' meant 'turn to the left', ('wi.wi' was repeated to indicate that the horse scould continue turning to the left) and 'weurdi' or 'wodi' meant turn right. 'Gee up', or 'git on then' meant start going forward, whereas 'jis, step' and 'Back abit' were used for stepping forward and backward.


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