Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ladies Ride

We grew up with this one, too, but I have not heard it anywhere else. Meaning, no one else I know had heard this. Not that nursery rhymes come up in everyday conversation before you have kids, and then when you are the only one with a kid, they still don't come up, unless you want people to stop talking to you in general.

Apparently, this is Mother Goose, and both my parents grew up with it. I know I have not done a book review lately. I am grossly behind in that. But I have a few words to say about this:


This is the way the ladies ride,
Tri, tre, tre, tree,
Tri, tre, tre, tree!
This is the way the ladies ride,
Tri, tre, tre, tre, tri-tre-tre-tree!

This is the way the gentlemen ride,
This is the way the gentlemen ride,

This is the way the farmers ride,
This is the way the farmers ride,

This is sung to the child while you bounce him or her on your knee, sweetly teaching him or her appropriate gender or class roles.

It comes from "The Real Mother Goose" (1916), so it goes back a long way. Well, clearly, as it's talking about people's horse-back-riding style. It was also printed in 1917 in Childhood's Favorites and Fairy Stories, The Young Folks Treasury, Volume 1. That one is more involved:

This is the way the ladies ride-
Saddle-a-side, saddle-a-side!
This is the way the gentlemen ride-
Sitting astride, sitting astride!

This is the way the grandmothers ride-
Bundled and tied, bundled and tied!
This is the way the babykins ride-
Snuggled inside, snuggled inside!

I guess it goes back to 1912, where it was printed in Boys and Girls Bookshelf; a Practical Plan of Character Building, Volume I (of 17), and Fun and Thought for Little Folk (1912). I love it. This rhyme gives a "practical plan of character building: this is how you are supposed to ride a horse, Timmy, depending upon whether you are a lady, a gentleman, a grandmother, or a baby. Those are your choices. Until the farmer was added a few years later, and the baby and grandmother were removed from the picture.

Let's talk about the grandmother. Ladies are side-saddle because of their giant skirts. Gentlemen are astride because of their pants. And grandmothers are... Bundled and Tied? Was grandmother bad? Is she so old that they just strapped her to a nag's back and rode along? What's going on there? And the baby? Snuggled inside? Inside the horse? Inside the lady? Inside the bundles in which the grandmother is being held captive.

I am afraid I don't get it.

The original rhyme that I learned is archaic enough. Ladies have a sweet, trilling sound to their riding as they prance along on their ponies. Gentlemen are forcefully galloping, because gentlemen had so much to do as, by their nature as gentlemen, they were expected to do precisely nothing. To what are these gentlemen gambling? The club, most likely. And the farmer, well, the poor, dumb farmer is galumphing along on his draft horse like the toothless hayseed he is.

Finn loves it.


mostcurious said...

Hey! I know this one! I know the version you gave first. I was wondering that same thing about the grandmother in the second version.

Brenda said...

Azalea loves this one too. I change the words from Ladies, Gentlemen, etc (I didn't know the grandmother version--yikes) to various occupations, and then mix them up each time. So sometimes teachers Clip-Clop (the gentle one) and sometimes they Hippity Hop (the middle one) and sometimes they Boogidy-Boogity-Boo (the rollicking one that makes the baby crack up). But mostly Daddy clip clops, Mama hippity hops, and Azalea boogidy boos. Not really sounds associated with a horse, but I don't think I've caused intellectual damage yet.

Have you read Dr. Suess' My Many Colored Days? She loves the book, but I change the words to that, too.