Somehow when I think of Moss Bros I don’t think of horse hobbles. Nervous young men in hired morning suits, yes, but horse hobbles ? Not so much.
I suppose it just shows how much has changed over time. According to Moss Bros’ website the firm was started in Covent Garden by Moses Moses, a dealer in quality second hand clothes. Moses died in 1894, leaving the business to his sons, at which point the shop became known as Moss Bros. The company’s interests expanded into clothes hire and ready to wear clothing. A military department started in 1910 and the company produced uniforms for many officers at the outbreak of World War One in 1914. During the 1920s a dedicated saddlery department opened in the basement of the King Street shop. The saddlery department thrived during the 1950s & 1960s, I am not sure when it closed.
Over the years I have dealt with some good quality Moss Bros hunting whips and spurs.
Back to the hobbles.
They are in their original box, with a postage date of 29 July 1947. The straps are made of thick tan leather – very similar to the leather used in some military pieces of saddlery (pack saddles, horseshoe cases etc), but there are no ordnance marks and this appears to have been a private sale.
The straps are lined with thick green felt. They do not appear to have been used.
The buckles and the chain joining the straps are steel which has been japanned or covered in black lacquer, presumably to protect from rusting.
I haven’t had any experience of hobbling horses, and found myself looking for a quick release mechanism on the hobbles. There isn’t one. I had visions of hysterical horses getting themselves into dreadful states. I know they are used, particularly in countries with more open spaces than the UK, so thought I’d look into hobbling a little more. A quick google search came up with many references, which made fascinating reading. (Although I would advise putting the word “horse” in the search….)
There was much advice about training a horse to accept hobbles, and the interesting point that a hobble-trained horse was less likely to panic if it did get its legs caught up in something. There’s a good piece about tethering and hobbling on trails at http://www.eclipsepress.com/mediaroom/pdf/happy_trails_ex.pdf. Obviously it’s a technique that can be abused, and time & patience are needed to use it properly.
While I’m on the subject of hobbles and tethering – what do you make of this ? Presumably a hobble or tethering ring, but what for? The central gap is about 3 inches or 8cm in diameter.
It’s made of iron or steel with a spring clip opening, I somehow doubt that it was for a horse, and I don’t know how thick camel pasterns are, but it seems quite small. Too big for a goat. Someone suggested a handcuff, but you’d have to be a fairly useless escapologist to be unable to undo a spring clip…