boot jockeys or slides

boot jockeys or slides

I have seen these curved metal plates described as “jockey lifts” “boot jockeys” and “boot slides”. The 1933 Swaine & Adeney catalogue goes with “jockey lifts”, so that’s good enough for me.

They are actually a cunning dressing aid , the lip hangs over the outside of one’s boot – giving a smooth curved metal plate for the leg to pass over into the boot.

This would have been particularly important before today’s modern elasticated fabrics. The legs of heavy twill breeches were buttoned or laced up and could easily have rucked up inside close-fitting boots. This would have been horribly uncomfortable.

I have always seen the lifts sold in pairs, and assumed that they always came that way. One slide would be positioned at the front of the boot and one at the back. However, it appears that Swaine & Adeney also sold them singly in the 1930′s and I found a pretty interesting single example this week.

boot jockeys or slides
boot jockeys or slides
boot jockeys or slides

This lift comes in its original box.

The label reads “Patent Jockey-Boot-Lift
Is equally available for either right or left boot”

It then shows the old style lift compared to the new (frankly I cannot see much difference).

Reviews come from several magazines : The Field (still around today), Sporting and Dramatic News (great title eh?, it was in print between 1845 & 1943) and Land & Water (a weekly journal published between 1914 & 1920, and edited by Hillaire Belloc – he of the cautionary tales, amongst other, more serious works). Anyway, this last publication usefully dates the new lift to between 1914 & 1920.

The box also helpfully gives instructions for use : Place the “Jockey” inside the front of the boot top with the ege of the latter resting within the supporting flange of the “Jockey” and then pull on the boot in the usual manner.

Divider

How’s this for a piece of advice in a book ?

“… avoid particularly a rigid neck which means contraction of the muscles. Smoke a cigarette if one feels inclined to stiffen the neck.”

- I’m not making this up – here’s the extract

It comes from a gloriously non-PC small book called “The Rudiments of Riding” by Lt.Col. F.C.Hitchcock, which was first published in 1939 and reprinted in 1949.

It was described as a vade mecum for novice horsemen and women.

Lt.Col. Hitchcock also wrote “Saddle Up: A Guide to Equitation and Stable Management, Including Hints to Instructors “, and “To Horse” – I must find copies of these to read, who knows what vices I’ll be able to justify?

In fairness, Lt.Col Hitchcock also wrote “STAND TO – A DIARY OF THE TRENCHES 1915-1918″, and held the Military Cross. He was probably entitled to a more robust view of life than we have today.

I’ll finish with an image of the inside of the book – it obviously fell into the hands of a pony-mad young girl who favoured long flowing (purple) manes. I wonder if she’s still smoking twenty a day?

Divider

Antique riding whip with serpents

This whip has a beautiful silver handle & collar, decorated with cast coiled serpents.
Unfortunately the covering of the shaft or stock has suffered some damage. Looking on the bright side – this does let us look at the construction of an antique whip.
The body or core of the whip is made of whalebone or balleen. This material is not actual bone but comes from the fibrous plates in the whale’s mouth, used for filter feeding. Whalebone was used for many purposes before the advent of plastics & fiberglass, because it was strong and flexible. Hopefully the images at the end of this blog show its layers or lamellae.

This core was wrapped first in thin paper (sometimes newspaper was used, which can be useful in determining the age of the whip ) . A layer of braided material would cover the paper – the imprint of this can still be seen on the paper. The braided material could be catgut, linen or more whalebone.

The grip of this whip is covered in braided whalebone – I believe this whalebone was cut into strips and steamed to make it flexible enough to be braided, similar strips of whalebone were also used on violin bow lapping.
Special looms were used to create the tubular covering, unfortunately not many of these survive, so I am looking into ways to get the whip re-covered.

Antique riding whip with serpents
Detail of whip showing exposed balleen and paper
Antique riding whip with serpents
Antique riding whip with serpents
Antique riding whip with serpents
Antique riding whip with serpents
Antique riding whip with serpents
Divider