The Folk-Lore Journal/Volume 2/Hippic Folk-Lore from the North-East of Scotland

The Folk-Lore Journal, Volume 2
Hippic Folk-lore from the North East of Scotland


THE following hippic folk-wisdom I have got from old people in the parish, and they tell me they had it from old folks, so that its age cannot be less than a century:—

"Four feet fite fell 'im;
Three feet fite sell 'im;
Twa feet fite gee 'im t' your wife;
Ae fit fite keep 'im a' his life."

Another version is:—

"Four fite feet fell 'im;
Three fite feet sell 'im;
Twa fite feet keep 'im for your wife;
Ae fite fit keep 'im a' his life." •

A third version is:—

"Four fite feet keep 'im not a day;
Three fite feet sell 'im in (if) you may;
Twa fite feet you may sell 'im t' your breether;
Ae fite fit dinna sell 'im never."

A fourth version is:—

"One fite fit buy 't;
Twa fite feet try 't;
Three fite feet look weel aboot it;
Four fite feet gang withoot it."

There are nine points in a good horse. You will find three of them in a fox, three in a hare, and three in a woman. Like the fox he must be deep-ribbit, straight-backit, and bushy-tailt; like the hare, clean-limbt, quick-eet, and prick-luggit; and like a woman, weel-hippit, weel-breastit, and easy-mountit.

With regard to the management of the horse it is said:—

"Up the hill trot me not;
Doon the hill gallop me not;
In the fair road spare me not;
In the stable forget me not."

There is another and a somewhat contradictory version:—

"Up hill drive me not;
Doon hill spare me not;
In the stable forget me not."

With regard to shoeing it is said:—

"Place a bit upo' the tae,
T' help the horse t' climb the brae;
Raise the cawker i' the heel,
T' gar the horsie trot weel."

To this may be added the following proverbs, familiar to me from boyhood, and customs told me by Mr. Duncan, blacksmith, who has shared in the festivities.

He hiz nae mehr conscience nor a cadger's horse; i.e., he is greedy, or he is unscrupulous in asking or taking.

A'll gee you yer com afore yer water; spoken as a threat of doing some injury to one who has offended you.

I widd (would) raither be a back-chain wintin grease till a cadger's cairt.

I widd raither be a back-chain till a cairt, or a donkey to the cairds (tinkers).

I widd raither be a back-chain till a cairrier's cairt though it were aye gyain doon hill; always used to express the most decided refusal amounting to disgust.

To eat like a horse; said of one who eats more than usual.

To sweat like a horse; i.e., to perspire profusely.

As hungry's a horse; spoken of one having a good appetite.

A's sicks a horse.

He (she) hiz the stamak o' a horse; spoken of one who has a strong digestion.

He's (she) a perfect horse.

He's (she) as strong's a horse.

To work like a horse.

He's nae t' ride the water on; i.e., he is not to be depended on.

It's time t' steek the stable-door fin the steed's stowen.

Like draws t' like'.

Like a scabbit horse till a fehl dyke.

Shank's mare, or marie.

Shank's naig or naigie; i.e., the legs; spoken when one walks.

Short and sweet like a donkey's gallop.

That widd pooshion a horse; spoken of any disgusting piece of food, or disgusting conduct or speech in a person.

That widd kill a horse; spoken of any hard work done by a person, j or used when one eats any indigestible kind of food.

Ticht graith; applied to one of doubtful or bad reputation.

To kick up the heels at a thing; i.e., to reject a thing.

To nicker or snicker; i.e., to giggle, to laugh in a silly fashion.

To find a mare's nest.

To ride ahin the tail; i.e., to be thrown from a horse.

Corn him weel afore Candlemas'.

Kaim (comb) weel aifter.

Ca canny; a phrase spoken to enforce caution.

It's the hinmost strae it bracks the horse's back.

The horse 'ill recreet (recover) o' the new girs (grass); spoken ironically to signify that a thing will not take place.

The smith's mare's aye warst shod.

Drive on, the beast's borrawt.

There's muckle riding in a borrawt beast.

He's ridin as gehn (if) he were gyain for the howdie (midwife).

It's a gueed horse it never snappers.

It's easy t' traivel fin ye lead the beast b' the head.

To ride and tie; spoken of two riding and walking alternately on a journey.

To ride at laisure; applied to one in apparently good circumstances, but who lives in a way not warranted by his circumstances.

It's lang t' the saidlin o' a foal.

Some of the foregoing are but variants, and it is not claimed for them that they are not known otherwhere.

When a young horse received his first set of shoes there was always a merry-making. The owner went to the smithy with his pocket lined with a bottle of whisky. When the job was accomplished, the smith, with all in the workshop at the time, received "a dram," and sometimes two.

One old farmer there was in the parish of Aberdour, Aberdeenshire, who would not allow his young horses off the farm without their shoes. When one was to be shod, the blacksmith was sent for to measure the animal's feet. He returned to the smithy, and made the shoes according to measurement. He then went to the farm, carrying the shoes and the shoeing-tools, and shod the animal. A feast was then held, when the best produce of the farm was spread, as well as a fair quantity of whisky. The practice of partaking of whisky on the occasion of the shoeing of a horse for the first time still lingers.