Time to Play
Sport - Horse-riding
Humans had been using horses for thousands of years before Shakespeare’s lifetime. Horses were essential for farm work, travelling and warfare, before the invention of tractors, cars and tanks in the twentieth century.
However, from 1500 we see evidence that horses were no longer just used for practical purposes and riding horses had become a leisure activity for the wealthy and noble classes.
One really important reason for this change is the development of better ‘tack’ (the equipment that you use to ride, handle, and care for horses). This started with noblemen, who were going into battle, purchasing elaborate saddles and armour for their horses. This was meant to show off the noblemen’s wealth and power.
Elaborate padded saddles and stirrups, like the ones you see here, became popular with wealthy men and women outside of the battlefield as it made riding a horse much more comfortable. This meant, if you were rich enough, you might buy this kind of tack and ride your horse for leisure.
CC-BY-NC-ND Image Courtesy of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust