Playing Horsey: Country Trends

Figure 1.--This snapshot shows German children plasying horsey. A boy and a girl are dressed in what looks like smocks and pinafores and perhaps a coat. They hold a real horse carriage harness acting as if they where horses while a third child, a boy, keep the reins in his hands. The scene seems to be taken in a village street, notice the cobblestones. It is undated, but looks to us like the early 1920s.

As far as we can tell, playing horsey was a game popular throughout Europe and North America, if not the world. We think, however, that playing horsey was a popular game in many different countries. The horse was a main form of transport throughout the 19th century. The train became important in the mid-19th century, but the horse was the most important form of family transport for most children throughout the century. This was true both in cities and rural areas. Thus children in all countries had experienes with horses. Our archive has large collections for the main countries, thus we do not have confirmation for the smaller countries. We have found several images from the larger countries. We can thus confirm that playing horsey was popular in the 19th century and even in the early-20th century. Most of our information is about America. We note children pklaying horsey in many different countries, including Germany. Readers report that children in Asia also played horsey.


Most of our information is about America. We see drawings from the early-19th century of American children playing horsey.


Ww note images of English children playing horsey in the 19th century. QA goodcexample is an unidentified engraving, we think from the 1880s.



A popular game in the 19th century was horsey. Childrem would pretend to be horse and driver. This might be played with stick horses. Or children might fashion reigns and one or more children would pretend to be the horses and another child would be the driver. Tpy stores even sold play reins. This could be played with a wagon of some kind, but often children played it as a running game without a wagon. After the turn-of-the 20th century, horsey declined in popularity as trucks began to replace horses for transport. A German reader writes, "In 1944 when I lived in the countryside, after being evacuated from Stuttgart, we played 'horsey'", 5 to 10 year old children. I don't remember playing it in the city though."



A reader tells us, "I saw Tajik children playing horsey even in the 1990s. You might have three or four boys being the horse. It was more like charioteer racing in a Ben Hur setting."


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Created: 2:13 AM 4/20/2010
Last updated: 2:13 AM 4/20/2010