Restraint of horses during the Middle Ages

Par Yvonne POULLE-DRIEUX

Archiviste paléographe, 6 rue Lemaignan 75014 Paris, yvonne.poulle@laposte.net

There is no medieval treatise on the subject and the relevant information is to be gleaned from the general medieval veterinary literature; for this article, only recently edited treatises were consulted. Iconography provided another important source of information. During the Middle Ages, the restraint technique focused on the horse’s head: a bit (frenum) was inserted into its mouth or a halter (capistrum) was used with a tether (retina). A traginellus was achieved by binding the horse’s front feet to one of its rear feet. Shackles (pedica, pastoria) were made of wool not to hurt the horse’s legs. Restraint in an upright position was achieved by suspension or by placing the horse in a trave (machina). Casting horses was a dangerous operation and anaesthetics, first innovatively applied to animals by Teodorico Borgognoni, could sometimes reduce the risk. Stablemen were the only persons to perform restraint of horses.

Bull-soc-fr-hist-med-sci-vet-2014-02

Ref. : Bull.soc.fr.hist.méd.sci.vét., 2014, 14 : 19-33

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