Equitation styles began to change
in the early modern period. A number of factors may have influenced this
transformation; changes in warfare, the growth of the Gentry and changes to
inland transportation. Various causes existed and are worthy of study, but
whatever the root cause, modern riding styles emerged that incorporated a
shorter stirrup strap.
Riders began to
sit with the upper leg thrust slightly forward and with the lower leg bending
at the knee.
This type of equitation
allows the rider to use the pressure from the legs to help guide the horse. It
also brings the foot and heel closer to the flank of the horse, which allows the
early-modern spur to be shorter than its medieval equivalent.
However, the modern English heel is much
flatter and almost inconsequential in comparison to the Western heel.
As an aid in
understanding the shift in heel and spurs, a remnant of that transition might
be the style of the American Western heeled boot and the manner in which some
cowboys wear their spurs. This style of placement has the spur resting on or near
the top of the stacked heel, about 3 inches off the ground, which allows the
spur to hit the flank of the horse closer to the underbelly with less arcing of
the stirrup, leg and foot. Similar to the Western style, the spur for the
English rider is placed on the boot several inches above the ground.
Additional factors for the
development of the stacked heel for men could include the changing role of
horsemen outside of the military in the early modern world and the increased
use of horsepower. Even the most shallow heel allows spurs to be worn both on and off a horse. The lift the heel provides allows a rider to walk without damaging the spur's leather and without digging into the sole of the foot with each step.
A thick sole and
stacked heel provide some elevation in a world of animal muck, and from a
practical nature it is far more effective to replace a worn outer sole and a
layer or two of a whole sole.
a primary cause, one of the easiest ways to increase stature in a hierarchical
society is through a raised heel.
side effect of leather soles and heels is that they make sound as we walk.
Heeled leather soled footwear announces a
person’s approach before they ever enter a room and a boot creates more sound
than a shoe. The sound shoes and boots make as a person walks is one of the
very few approved ways to make noise through their clothing.
The development of a raised heel for men
occurred during a period rife with personal wear and adornment no longer deemed
appropriate for men; wigs, britches, lace, cockades, jabots, buckles, canes,
swords are all anomalies to modern viewers. What we find odd might have been a
more natural development in the 17th
So while not to diminish the possible
influence by the high heels of the Asiatic archers on Western male shoes, a far
richer story might exist that incorporates a host of influences.
Commenting here too. Favourite play is Midsummer's Night Dream. I love those shoes & want to win them :)ReplyDelete