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Novelist desperately needs historical carriage info-how did a "skid" work?

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  • #21
    DNJ-2 here

    I think my worst is when they talk about driving the curricle and their pair

    and then the next day
    they drive the curricle with a single -
    often with the heroine driving

    yes there are a lot of mistakes with type and use of vehicle

    but I love even more how the cover art gets horse tack waaaaaay wrong!


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by gothedistance View Post
      Just as an aside - I downloaded, two seconds ago, while sitting here on the beach, surf pounding, hotel internet being picked up by my Nook way across a tourist scattered stretch of white sand, the digital version of Coaching Days and Coaching Ways. It is free from archives.org. The book is now apparently in the public domain as the copyright is expired.

      There you go. Technology bringing the stories of the past right to our digital fingers.
      Hehe and I'm replying to this from an RV on the road to Flagstaff atm. (It's ok, I'm not driving--I'm the guard, so to speak, sitting in the back, ready to make sandwiches and empty the trash.)

      I have Coaching Days and Coaching Ways off google books in pdf. I find the pdf formats are usually easier to read than the epub, which can explode all over the place on an ereader. I have my issues with Google but I will say that the victorian lit they have scanned is a great resource. last time I saw that many old books was in Hay-on-Wye. To date I've got 42 books on English coaching and the mails.

      I recommend Thomas de Quincy's essay THE ENGLISH MAIL COACH, about his days as an Oxford student riding the mails during the period of the Napoleonic Wars. Once you get used the Victorian diction, it's a funny and touching view of what it really was like for a young man of 20 to be a part of that time. The section called "Going Down with Victory" is almost a tear-jerker. Gets a bit opium-addled toward the end, but the parts about the mails is great. Very vivid image of what it must have been like to go tearing through the night, and at least one very close call with a coachman falling asleep.

      (Ignore the stupid "critical analysis," it's lit'rature, yeah, but more fun just read like a letter from a friend.)
      Ring the bells that still can ring
      Forget your perfect offering
      There is a crack in everything
      That's how the light gets in.


      • Original Poster

        More later, road too rough to type.
        Ring the bells that still can ring
        Forget your perfect offering
        There is a crack in everything
        That's how the light gets in.


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by Drive NJ View Post
          The heroic horse doesn't have to be injured enough to not be able to return to coaching. They wouldn't have 'carried' the horse through a long recovery. If there was a significant layup needed, the horse would probably have been sold on.
          That's basically the way I've written the scene, the coachman is all depressed because he knows one of his favorites will be sold on because she can't be kept. I wanted to emphasize the idea that she was not sound for serious work because actually the horses off the mails were in demand among farmers and other kinds of drivers. They were tough, fit and experienced. Several of the large proprietors that horsed the fast stagecoaches and mails turned over any horse after 3 years, to keep their overall quality consistently high. So, Black Beauty style, she's in peril of ending up at the bottom of the heap, horse-wise, rather than just, say, heal up a bad cut and go work for a nice parson or something.

          It doesn't really matter what her injury is, just that it makes for a longish recovery and confines her to light work after. I pulled 'stifle' out of the air because I've got a horse with a weak, locking stifle and know a bit about it and the recovery process, and the way I'd conceived the scene, it seemed like a possible outcome.

          It's necessary that she save the day, because i already have this nice dialogue that results in hero buying her, and I don't want to change it much! He doesn't do it just cause he's a softy, he does it out of respect and gratitude for her action that saved their bacon.

          Looking foward to GTD's suggestion for an incident.
          As to accuracy, I do my best. I've learned over the years that I can't be right all the time, and readers will be happy to let me know it.

          As I mentioned, really I don't have to go into much detail, I just like to on this particular topic. In defense of authors, it's hard to know what you don't know. I often smile when I see a novel describe a horse "lapping up" water thirstily. While this may seem foolish to me, many many people have never seen a horse drink. They've seen cats and dogs lap, why should it even occur to them that horses might be different? Most people just think horses are like cars, you jump on and press the gas and off you go. Then when you get off, they stand there (tied!) until you come back a few days later. You can see these concepts in action on any given commercial trail ride.

          I once gave an ms to an english friend, and she pointed out that I had my character walking "ten city blocks" in London. We don't have "blocks" in London, she said. Oh. That just never would have occurred to me to question. It's nice if copy-editors catch things, and they often do, but they too have their limits of knowledge.

          I happen to really enjoy historical reseach and get a lot of ideas from it. In original sources, I can find many contradictions of our accepted wisdom about how things were in the past. I tend to rely most on things like letters, diaries and stories told by the people who experienced them, in their words and diction, and on novels written in the time period, which can give a lot of casual details about how people did live. I only rely secondarily on modern books about the subjects, and even on modern expert opinions. All of our knowledge of the past is always evolving.

          As we've already seen in this thread, there can be contradictory cases--I have historically common terms like "shouldering the pole" that don't make sense to knowledgeble ppl here because the pole would be too low to be pushed by the shoulder. We've got two views of how a curricle was driven, and who drove it. In those cases, a writer just has to weigh the sources and consider what to do (including, consult an expert, evaluate the expert against other evidence, or drop the whole question and try something entirely different because it's not that important to the story.

          Many--most--readers don't care about the details of coaches or horses, and I have to be very careful not bore or confuse them.

          All that aside, it's a great pleasure to me, part of the joy of writing, to delve into things and learn myself. There is so much amazing unexpected "stranger than fiction" stuff out there!

          One more little story I cam across involving a hill and a skid, or lack thereof. I found this by a circuitous route--I picked an inn on a steep hill at random from an 1830-ish map of Highgate, because I wanted the inn to have a certain view from the windows. I started searching on the the Fox and Crown to see if it still happened to be around, and came across this:

          Estates Gazette of 21st May, 1904: "The death on Saturday of Mr. James William Turner, of Highgate, recalls a thrilling incident in the life of Queen Victoria. His father kept the Fox and Crown, a quaint little tavern, which until then had been known as the Fox under the Hill. On July 6, 1837, Her Majesty and her mother were being driven down the hill in a carriage drawn by four horses ridden by postillions, when the horses became restive and plunged violently. Being without a drag chain, the carriage pressed upon the horses, which greatly increased their fright. At this juncture Mr. Turner sprang forward, and in the most intrepid manner, succeeded in blocking the wheels of the vehicle. Her Majesty, who was naturally much alarmed, alighted from the carriage and sought refuge in the tavern. The horses were quieted and a drag chain having been secured, the journey to Kensington was resumed. In addition to a handsome present, Mr. Turner was granted a licence to mount the Royal Arms outside his house. Underneath was placed the inscription:— 'This coat of arms is a grant from Queen Victoria for services rendered to Her Majesty while in danger travelling down this hill.'
          But even the Estates gazette gets one detail wrong! The tavern may have been originally called by the charming name, the Fox under the Hill, but it didn't get the "Crown" title from this incident. It was first referred to as the Fox and Crown in deeds in 1704.

          It is fun to come up with this stuff. Now you guys know something from the life of Queen Vickie probably very few people remember.
          Ring the bells that still can ring
          Forget your perfect offering
          There is a crack in everything
          That's how the light gets in.


          • #25

            That looks INCREDIBLE!! I'm putting it my folder of horse vacations for when I win the lottery.
            I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


            • #26
              Thanks DriveNJ and DriveNJ2, for the Curricle photos with the groom seat! I have never seen Curricles with the groom seat, in photos or real life, so I believed mention of them was literary license by Authors.

              I humbly take back all the bad thoughts about Curricles with grooms, that I had when I read the books. Sorry to all you Authors.

              The thought of putting 4 good-sized horses in front of a Curricle is mind-boggling!! Like being in a tin can tied behind a train, all that horse power and you are seated low, can't see ahead of the Leaders while zipping along! I know there are other issues with driving Curricles, keeping the horses on the pole even, so the balance and springing system works correctly. There were reasons that Curricle driving was considered "difficult" for most Drivers, unlike Gigs and other 2-wheel carts with their single horse in front.

              Always fun to learn more! Thanks.


              • #27

                You want scary... how about this high perch Curricle and the ijiot driver thinks standing up is a good idea too.


                Of course it is a drawing (and a Jane Austen website) so artistic license may be in play here too.


                • #28
                  GTD has returned from the white sandy beaches and warm sun, back to Hunt County, USA in time for perfect foxhunting weather.

                  GTD also spent her travel time perfecting her storyline for MelantheLLC, and thinks it will be perfect. She will give MLLC it here so that others can read it as well (and find any faults I may have missed):

                  Forward for the following: Many of the horses used for the mail coaches were throwaway or used-up thoroughbreds because they were both cheap and fast, and not generally sought after by the riding market because they were either uncurable rogues, broken, or not fancy enough. But they could run, and they could go the distance, and so they did. Many were also purposely blinded if they couldn't be brought into line. Now, keep in mind a blind horse could still work, and work well - but blind coach horses were often only used on the night runs because passengers, if they saw a horse were blind, would often refuse passage on that coach. The coaching stages weren't in the business to lose money, and the day stages brought in the most money, so, if the rogues - those that were both fast and goodlooking - could be kept in line with special harness, they would do so.

                  Now, it wasn't uncommon for rogue racehorses to be "warned off the track" (expelled from racing) if they were too dangerous to either jockeys, or other horses. Those would find themselves, more often than not, on a downward spiral to eventually end up on the coach string. It was also not uncommon to employ harness applications to make these rogues useful for working - and one of those harness applications - especially for confirmed bolters and bad shyers - was the full blinder. This was a leather strip - rather large and wide - that spanned from blinker to blinker. It prevented the horses from seeing anything except the ground under it's feet. <Every now and then you will come across an etching with one of the coach horses wearing this bridle piece - this is what it was for.>

                  Imagine a confirmed racehorse rogue, a big solid handsome bay of royal bloodlines with the looks of an angel but the heart of a demon, one that could win at Newmarket, but several times, without warning, had changed course to slam into and savage with teeth and kicks other horses in several races, finally being "warned off" the course forever and sold by the furious owner, and other owners who all too quickly found the demon heart in this rogue, selling the brute down the line until it was now at the bottom on a coaching string.

                  Imagine that the coaching men, brooking no quarter for this horse, requiring it to run the stages not only the blinders to prevent it from bolting and also seeing the others in the team, but also a muzzle to prevent it from savaging it's mates.

                  Imagine a new stable boy, not knowing this horse needed said harness accoutrements, putting said rogue as the off wheeler - farthest from the coachman - in normal bridle. Wonderful mare is put in as near wheeler - right in front of the coachman.

                  The stage is set for the drama:

                  Coach sets off. Everything is fine for a few miles, coach comes to easy down hill and horses are moved out faster....except the off leader who tallys a bit and hangs back, just enough to come within teeth range of the rogue who suddenly realizes - he is neither blinded, nor muzzled. At that moment the demon comes to the fore and all hell breaks loose. The rogue latches with his teeth onto the hindquarters of the leader, and bites deep. The leader lunges forward into a gallop as if the hounds of hell are at his heels, dragging his partner into a gallop as well.

                  The rogue lunges again to rip into the leader's hindquarters, which fuels the fire of that horse to panic flight. The other leader, keeps up the pace, the coach flying down the hill with a speed that sends all traffic skurrying off to the sides to give the coach way. The rogue, now in his element, sends some vicious kicks in the direction of the good mare, cracking into the pole with such force that it sounds like Satan's blunderbuss to everyone in the coach. Heads pop out of the windows, hands on hats, eyes wide, wondering if they were being pursued by highwaymen. But no, there is no Jack Black galloping alongside, waving a blunderbuss and yelling "Stand and deliver!". No, the road is clear, with the surrounding countryside flying past at a speed destined to stop the heart, or speed it to the point of bursting. Yells up to the coachmen are greeted with a bellow of curses at the horses, the gods, and the minions of hell, among which are the command to get all heads back inside or let the devil take them as he surely will.

                  The traces are stretched to breaking point, the coachman in a fury, unable to stop the unchecked flight because it would bring his leaders into the brute's range. He swings his lash out to bear across the brute's face as if that would, by it's cruel cuts, drive out the devil and dash the savage beast into submission. Yet that only inflames the brute who again kicks out with hind feet, this time catching our mare in the hind leg. She stumbles and almost falls, regaining her feet at the last second, held up by her chain to the pole to continue the flight. Again, the rogue lunges at the leaders, teeth bared.

                  At this point, both the coachman, who is roaring curses to heaven and threatening the poor stable boy with a death worse than could ever be found on earth or in hell, and the guard who, with lungs bursting, is frantically blowing his horn in a rapid staccato "Clear The Road" to warn vehicles ahead of the runaway - both are clearly aware that the situation is rapidly becoming dangerous to the point where, if the rogue isn't stopped, it may all end with an overturned coach and the death of those onboard.

                  Enter our hero, who has been sitting next to the coachman on the box ["box seat" is the terminology used for the driver's seat on a carriage], who realizes the danger they are all in. He tells the coachman there is only one way to stop the rogue - it must be blindfolded at once. The coachman, his hands full and now uttering curses to all the saints in heaven for their criminal disinterest in his pleads, roars to our hero that to do so could only be done with the craft of Mercury [winged hat and feet - get it?], or the courage of a fool. Our hero, nonplussed, crouches on the toe board, then dangles his legs over the edge, hollaring back to the coachman [remember, they are going about 40mph so it is pretty windy up there - hang your head out a car window next time going at that speed - it will give you a good idea of how much you'd have to yell to be heard] that he used to play a game as a child with his cousins when they would run the riding horses under the trees where one of them was hidden, and said hidden child would drop down onto one of the horses with reckless abandon to be taken for a wild ride around the pasture.

                  The coachman shakes his head, claiming the hero is either a madman, or bent upon suicide. The guard yells up to let him do it, as they are all to go to the devil as to commit suicide if the team were to continue unchecked. The coachman yells "Aye, it is your neck, sir, and may God help you that you keep it on your shoulders for that brute will surely take it off as give you leave!"

                  The hero, his cravat off and held in his mouth, takes aim, watching the rogue as it leaps forward to savage the leader, then rears up to escape the leader's flying heels. At the highest point of the plunging rear the rogue's ears are on level with the toe board, it's broad back as close as almost to be touched with outstretched arms, the pole chain to the collar wrenching the pole up above the hocks of the panicked leaders. At that second the hero leaps forward, landing on the rogue's back, wrapping his arms around the rouge's neck with a death grip. Surprised and angered, the horse lashes out a kick that sends splinters flying from the pole.

                  The hero, snatching his cravat from this mouth, whips it around the horse's head over the eyes. Startled by the sudden blindness, the horse hesitates and rapidly begins to slow. The coachman, pulling back on his reins with all his strength, accompanied by a blue streak of cursing to bring a ripe blush the faces of all within hearing, as well as a measure of sense and sensibility to the hearing of the team, gets the team under control. The leaders, finding themselves no longer being pursued and savaged, come down to a trot, and finally a halt to stand heaving and lathered.

                  The coach is pulled up, the blindfolded devil, unable to see, is now content to be as agreeable as the angel he looks and stands with perfect calm. The hero climbs up to the box to the admiration of the passengers in the coach, and the coachman, with an "attaboy" clap on the modest hero's shoulder, sends the team forward again to complete the journey with alacrity, and with the view that one and all will be well worthy of a rewarding and much needed drink at the next stage.

                  However, it is at the next stage that it is discovered that the mare has sustained a very damaging injury, much to the dismay and fury of the coachman who really liked this mare.

                  There. How's that for your story?
                  Last edited by gothedistance; Sep. 16, 2011, 07:42 PM.


                  • #29
                    Yowza GTD!! Gave me goosebumps!!! Great scene setting and terrific details in an orderly fashion. I was really speed reading to find out how the Team got stopped, and I think that was a great conclusion.

                    The closed blinkers to make horses work regardless of their "wishes" is certainly a little-known item of harness of the times. I have never heard it
                    referenced before. But if the horse had to be worked, they did whatever it took to get them to work and perform their job. Different times and different thinking.

                    Thank you for a wildly exciting scenario!!


                    • #30
                      WOW! That got my blood going!

                      What a great thread you all, this is why I love this forum. Never know what I'm going to stumble across.


                      • Original Poster

                        First *applause* for GTD! A great scene, very well told. We were all on the edge of our seats! I love the idea of the rogue savaging the leader to get a bolt started, and keep the coachman in a double-bind where he can't slow his leaders w/o putting them in range of the rogue wheeler.

                        Can I use it? Hmmm, I'm thinking...I'm thinking. It will require quite a bit of adaptation, because while GTD has written it perfectly as a stand-alone scene, there are some aspects that would require a major rewrite for me to fit it into what I have already. Also, as I mentioned, I need Our Equine Heroine to be a major player in saving everybody, not just to get injured along the way.

                        (Keep in mind that the questions I'm bringing up about it aren't criticisms, they're the same sort of question I'm asking myself when I create an action scene like this.)

                        I'm willing to put my hero outside (major re-write, dang), and I'm even willing to have him play Hollywood stuntman. But would we really believe in this leap off the box and blindfolding a vicious, lunging, kicking rogue? I CAN write it, somewhat differently than GTD handled it, because I actually have some previous characterization that will set up for it, but there was objection to him jumping out of the carriage when it was just skidding down the hill, at a much slower rate of speed.

                        Admittedly, going from the speed of the coach to a dead stop (jumping from moving carriage to ground) is one set of physical parameters, while jumping from box to wheeler (bodies moving in space at the same velocity) is another. You know how in the movies they jump from one boxcar to the next on the runaway train--it would be like that, except a lot more chaotic, especially with the rogue kicking and rearing randomly. (Isn't this going to affect the movement of the coach? One wheeler porpoising like that?)

                        What if the Good Mare is actually the off wheeler, and during all this she gallops along very steadily, providing a more predictable surface for him to land on? Also, could she steady the team's pace by herself at all, by refusing to bolt in a panic? If he got onto her, would he then be in a position to grab the rogue's rein or bridle, instead of having to actually blindfold him, which strikes me as a really really difficult two-handed job (remember that breeze you mentioned!)

                        It seems like it would take one hell of a stunt rider to hang onto a harnessed bolting horse and blindfold it with a long length of cloth. Our Hero is not a big sporting, horsey type; he's pretty cerebral and cold-minded, and is only gonna do something like this if it has a good chance of success. So I'm bit concerned about that aspect.

                        OTOH, he probably wouldn't just bail out, because Our Human Heroine is at risk, so he'd do what he could.

                        I do think this is a lovely scene. I had great fun reading it and it looks like you had fun writing it, GTD! Thank you for doing putting so much thought and time into it!
                        Ring the bells that still can ring
                        Forget your perfect offering
                        There is a crack in everything
                        That's how the light gets in.


                        • #32
                          You are more than welcome to use any, all, or none of what I wrote.

                          Things to remember - the breeze at a run would help the cravat fold over the blinkers and drape itself on the other side, making it easily a one handed save. Once the material is across the eyes/blinkers, the horse will automatically slow. The material doesn't have to be tied - it just has to obscure sight.

                          A coach going at speed being pulled by the leaders straight will go straight. Even with a wheeler acting up, the pole will hold that horse in one spot better than anywhere else in harness.

                          The toe board to a coach is an open platform, just above a wheeler's back. However, the reins are an impediment - they do rise upwards to the coachman's hands, hence my putting the hero down with his legs dangling. He has only about 2 feet to drop onto the horse, and plenty of harness to grab.

                          Putting the mare as the off wheeler makes it hard for the hero to control the other horse because it can turn and savage him! If the coachman is having a hard time trying to control the wheelers, let me clue you - it would be 10x as hard for a postillion on the opposing horse to try pulling on the reins because that pull would be sideways. Plus it would bring the horse's head inward - and the teeth within range.

                          Just some things that came to mind when I composed the idea.

                          Wish I could come up with something regarding the skid....but ideas fail unless you have an overturned coach, and the hero unharnessing and riding the mare to the next stage to get help.


                          • #33
                            non-driver lacking experience with check reins here. If the rogue wheeler can reach across to the rump of the opposite leader, then can the hero(eq)uine grab the cheekpiece of his bridle ala halter tag and temper his attack while the hero human does his thing? Even after receiving a foreleg to foreleg strike that threatens to (mildly) bow a tendon or something?
                            Last edited by HorsesinHaiti; Sep. 19, 2011, 08:57 PM. Reason: better idea
                            HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
                            www.hashaiti.org blog:http://hashaiti.org/blog


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by gothedistance View Post
                              Putting the mare as the off wheeler makes it hard for the hero to control the other horse because it can turn and savage him! If the coachman is having a hard time trying to control the wheelers, let me clue you - it would be 10x as hard for a postillion on the opposing horse to try pulling on the reins because that pull would be sideways. Plus it would bring the horse's head inward - and the teeth within range.
                              Yeah, I thought the same, puts him in bite-range. I didn't know if he could drag the rein across toward him in a way that would turn the rogue's head away from him. But yeah, not really an option; wouldn't help much anyway.

                              Thinking about the cravat--the first thing he'd do was to take his coat off to get his neckcloth off. They knotted those things in very complicated ways, and tucked the ends down in their waistcoats. It would take some time to get it loose and unwrapped from around his neck. So how about he just uses his coat instead?

                              Ok, bear with me, GTD and others, gonna get very detailed here. Looking at contemporary paintings of the mail coaches, I see the toe board is almost over the wheelers' haunches as you say. But if you fell short or lost your first hold, you'd be toast.

                              Here's a photo of a mail coach of the right date. The toe board is angled back and down. He can sit down on it, true, though that seems to me to put him at a backward angle, disadvantaged for getting enough push-off, since he can't get any purchase with his feet or legs. He would just have to drop off, with as much push as his arms could give him, flinging his upper torso forward at the same time, like pushing off the end of a diving board from a sitting position, only harder.

                              So, how about he rips off his coat, has it in one hand, and in one fast move, puts his feet on the edge of the toe board, slides off the seat, ducking in a forward crouch under the reins and launches himself, keeping his center of gravity low w/o actually stopping to sit on the toe board.

                              A more athletic move, perhaps, but his free hand would be available to hold the seat behind him as he ducks down, and he'd have more forward momentum as long as he didn't pause or teeter on the edge. I suppose there would be the risk of catching his heels on the edge.

                              The coat is a larger, heavier item, and I can see him flinging it over the rogue's head and blinding it without having to really aim at all. The sleeves and shape of the coat would tend to catch in the blinkers or over the horse's head and nose.

                              I still need the Good Wheeler to do something that clearly helps save the day, though.

                              Thanks for hanging with me while I sort it out.
                              Ring the bells that still can ring
                              Forget your perfect offering
                              There is a crack in everything
                              That's how the light gets in.


                              • Original Poster

                                Originally posted by HorsesinHaiti View Post
                                non-driver lacking experience with check reins here. If the rogue wheeler can reach across to the rump of the opposite leader, then can the hero(eq)uine grab the cheekpiece of his bridle ala halter tag and temper his attack while the hero human does his thing? Even after receiving a foreleg to foreleg strike that threatens to (mildly) bow a tendon or something?
                                Heh, HiH, one of my most vivid memories of my brief pair-driving days was the more experienced mare reaching across and nipping her much more "forward" half-brother, as if to say, "Slow down, you drip, yer makin' us work too hard!"
                                Ring the bells that still can ring
                                Forget your perfect offering
                                There is a crack in everything
                                That's how the light gets in.


                                • #36
                                  Hey, I like the scenario with the coat. Yup, much better than the cravat! Much better.

                                  Maybe hero can ask the coachman to pull back on the wheelers for all he's worth to bring them back in the traces as much as possible, closest to the toe board, and the coachman calls to the mare to do her best to put her weight against the coach- she alone is listening to him, the others running wild. He can throw in a few phrases about her valor, etc, telling her she is the only thing between them and utter destruction. Make her the heroine in the team. She flicks her ears back to show she hears him, and put her whole body against her breeching to slow the speed of the runaway vehicle and stem the flight of the others. Her actions and the weight of the coachman against the reins, forces the rogue back until he is directly under the hero.

                                  Once hero has blindfolded the rogue, he coos to the mare to now do her utmost in bringing the coach to a halt, and she almost sits in the harness, the lone horse, single handed (or hoofed) braking the coach as the coachman is pulling in his lines to drag the leaders back into obedience (those two don't have any braking power at all - just pulling), and together - the powerful mare and the coachman - bring the coach to a safe halt.

                                  Maybe you can have the hero and the coachman talk afterwards about the exceptional mare, comparing her to the rogue - sorta reinforces her significance to the event and the story?


                                  • #37
                                    About the cravat - since I foxhunt, and our hunting attire is the arrested development of the 1830's male attire, I always view my stock tie as being a living memento of that long ago day and age. To take my stock off, I have to remove the pin, unknot it (I only do a single cross then fluff up the front tail under my neck to be pinned into place), and then slide it off my neck. Not complicated, but it does take about 30 seconds.

                                    In your storyline, I think the coat make an excellent blind and much, MUCH better imagery. FAR better than a cravat, and more vividly realistic. Yup, the coat definitely has my vote!


                                    • #38
                                      One of my close acquaintances was the coachman for a neighbor. I was often asked to go driving with him as he worked the team(s), and it wasn't unusual to find he was driving various new horses to see how and where they would best fit.

                                      One day, as I watched the grooms bringing the horses out to be put to, I noticed the off wheeler (mare) with a length of baling twine tied on the offside from her bridle to the terret. He saw me looking at it with narrowed eyes, and grinned, explaining the mare disliked her pole mate (a gelding), and the last time the two of them got into a biting match while going down the road. I laughed, said I thought that (preventing the head from turning too far inward) was probably one of the reasons why he'd have it there....but....baling twine? Really? Orange baling twine, to boot?? I raised my brows at him. No nice piece of leather available?

                                      His turn to laugh. Twine was cheap, readily available, and did the job.

                                      Sure enough, while we were underway, that mare tried several times to turn and bite her pole mate. They both would pin their ears at the same time, and turn in their heads precisely at the same time, perfect choreography, to show their teeth. She was the aggressor; he merely defending himself by warning her back. Fortunately, the baling twine brought her up short every time, and by the end of the drive, unable to make their threats come to anything, the pole pair had dropped the bickering and resigned themselves to their jobs.

                                      Not sure if my friend coachman ever kept the two on the pole, or moved them to other positions.

                                      In one of my own pairs I had a pony that liked to turn his head inward to touch the other pony on said pony's neck or face, just his reassurance that other pony was there. It was annoying to me, and annoying to the other pony who after the 3rd or 4th "buddy tap" would finally give Mr. Touchy-Feelie a good nip on the nose to say "quit it!!" This happened every drive until I learned to tap Mr. T-F on his neck with my whip, prior to starting off, to remind him to keep his mind on his work, not on bothering his pole mate. His touchy-feelie moments were so predictable that I would already have the thong in motion to flick HIS (inside) neck before he could turn his head. He finally broke of the habit, but I always had to keep a watch on him through the corner of my eye. He's now long deceased, a great driving pony who was a real worker and as steady as they came, bless his little heart.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks, all! Coat it is. I'll spend the afternoon seeing what I can bang out (weeping as usual over some lines of dialogue that I like that will have go. )

                                        Actually the whole cravat thing does bring an amusing possibility to mind. Our Hero is a far cry from a Dandy--up until a few weeks before, he only had 2 shirts to his name, because his younger brothers keep "borrowing" them. But now he has dozens, and a very smart valet, who perhaps has tried to teach him how to tie one of the more fashionable and complicated knots in his neckcloth. (As you probably know, some of those guys spent all morning and went through a half-dozen starched cravats to get them tied the way they wanted.) However, valet is not along atm, so OH tried but made a botch of it on his own, plus he's been sleeping all night in the mail coach. I can see him reaching up to rip off his normally simply-tied cravat, and finding that it's hopelessly knotted and stuck around his neck. So he swears and yanks off his coat instead.

                                        Unfortunately I can't be in his POV so prolly can't use that, but you never know.

                                        Excellent ideas for the Good Mare. I think she'll not only stop the coach but reach over and give the rogue a piece of her mind along the way. That alone just might put him in his place.
                                        Ring the bells that still can ring
                                        Forget your perfect offering
                                        There is a crack in everything
                                        That's how the light gets in.


                                        • #40
                                          I have used a carriage skid

                                          have used a skid whilst driving. The original sign advising use was still at the top of the hill. Placed under the front of the offside back wheel it acted as a drag. I had to leave the coach to put it under and there is a bit of a knack to get ot to lock the wheel. However, experienced grooms or coachmen were able to throw the skid under the wheel without getting off. It is easy to see how you would get the knack of this. If using the same technique as a single drayman you may not want to dismount. I assume that it is wise to use the wheel away from the edge of the road to avoid losing the skids effect if you knock a kerb or soft road edge.