This fascinating advert appears in the Bath Directory of 1846 :

Advert for Victorian Riding School

It reads :

CARTER’S Riding School, Livery & Commission Stables,
Top of Russell Street, Bath

Ladies & Gentlemen taught the Polite Art of Riding by an Experienced Master

Horses & Carriages of every description let for hire

Horses Broke & Trained for every purpose

Job and Post Master

Capital Boxes for Hunters

Families Supplied with Hay & Corn – at the Market Price”

And (thanks to Andrew Swift’s “On Foot in Bath” ) I found its original entrance.

Russell Street old site of Riding School

To give some idea of what the school may have looked like this is an image of the slightly later Hollandsche Manege in Amsterdam

Hollandsche Manege in Amsterdam

Intriguingly it was also used as a bicycle riding school at one point. Early bicycles or velocipedes were difficult to learn to ride, in a publication of 1869 the author “Velox” wrote :
“the velocipedes are positively to be found in our streets by hundreds, and our gymnasiums and riding-schools are thronged by anxious learners and expectant possessors of the new iron horse and carriage combined. “
There is also an excellent blog about the earlier “Dandy Horse” here

I thought I had found another image when I read about a “Portrait of Lizard, the pillar horse, in Capt. Carter’s riding-school” by William Sawrey Gilpin RA, but it dates from 1763, so not the same riding school. Good name for a horse though. One of the dictionary definitions of pillar is “The centre of the volta, ring, or manege ground, around which a horse turns”, or it could refer to the posts between which the horse stands in some forms of classical dressage training.

There were other riding schools in Bath. In “The Strangers’ Assistant & Guide to Bath” of 1773 R. Cruttwell wrote

“In rainy weather thofe who chufe to take exercife or learn to ride, may do it very conveniently in a large, commodious Riding-fchool, kept by Mr. Scrace, in Montpelier Row. The days for Gentlemen are Mondays, Wednefdays, and Fridays; and for Ladies, Tuefdays, Thurfdays, and Saturdays. The terms for thofe that learn to ride and ride the managed horfes, are three guineas per month or 5s. 3d. a leffon. Gentlemen whofe horfes are kept at the Riding-houfe, are allowed to ride them in the fchool gratis.” (sorry, I can’t resist a long S)

Riding Scool Montpelier Row BathThe riding school in Montpelier, Bath from Bath In Time

In the 1841 Bath Directory John Stevenson is listed as the proprietor

Old Riding School in BathThe riding school in 1890 from Bath In Time

There was a neighbouring pub on Julian Road called “The Manege Horse” – it was sometimes known as “The Managed Horse”. The riding school was demolished in 1973.

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This blog entry is about lawn boots. Partly because they are interesting but largely because they contain no letter “D”.

kitten damage to laptop

Note the missing key

This isn’t an intellectual exercise, I’m no Georges Perec (he wrote “La Disparation”, a novel without the letter “e”) – an entire work omitting a given letter is beyond me (note the “d” in beyond). It is simply that one of my kittens removed the relevant key from my laptop & it now requires a special poking action to use it.

Back to lawn boots… these are leather boots that would be strapped onto a pony’s (or horse’s, or donkey’s) hooves.

Lawn boots for a pony

Why were they used? Well, if you have ever stamped down divots on a polo field (or accidentally let a horse stray onto a golf course – which has never happened to me, really…), you will know what hooves can do to a lawn.
Before motorised vehicles were common, horse (or pony, or donkey) drawn lawnmowers and grass rollers were used on any large expanses of grass. Obviously, there’s no point in carefully mowing and rolling a lawn if at the same time it is being churned up by hooves.

Lawn boots for a pony

They are made of thick leather and have a strap that would fasten around the pastern, and a lower strap that fastened behind the heel. The soles are generally leather, they are sometimes sewn on & sometimes riveted. The soles often have small studs – wet grass can be pretty slippery. I have seen a set with large studs on the sole, I was told that they were “ice shoes”, but I am not sure how accurate that description was.

Lawn boots for a pony

Most that turn up are probably Victorian. They do show up in old gardener’s catalogues (Ruth Brennan uses the title “Lawn Boots for Donkeys” in her 1991 paper on nurserymen’s catalogues. Ultimately I think they are a fascinating bit of equestrian history & an ingenious piece of problem solving.

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