Apes on ponies

I think it was 10th grade English (maybe 11th) where we learned that back in the days of Shakespeare, one of the spectacles people used to attend for entertainment was ‘apes on ponies.’ I think the idea was that you tied an ape to the top of a pony and watched it destroy the pony.

The phrasing of this always made us laugh. I have never seen another reference to ‘apes on ponies’ in my life.

BREAKING UPDATE — Apparently I finally figured out what to search for. The ‘sport’ is horse baiting or bear-baiting.

A Spanish nobleman of the time, who was taken to see a pony baited that had an ape tied to its back, expressed himself to the effect that “to see the animal kicking amongst the dogs, with the screaming of the ape, beholding the curs hanging from the ears and neck of the pony, is very laughable.” (from Encyclopædia Britannica 3, 1910)

People have always been awful.

12 thoughts on “Apes on ponies

  1. Hah, “very laughable”. Great find.

    Every once in a while I’ll remember one of the handful of things from early education that I’ve found no reference or validation of. For example, we were in AP English and Mrs. Maine (Mayne? Mane?) reading some story set in a colonial or post-colonial period. One of the characters was a silver polisher and other characters remarked about what that must have done to his nose. I asked then what the hell they were talking about, and no one had any idea.

    Also, don’t forget the Ape of Reason.

  2. That is demented. I seem to recall a comedy sketch that referred to ‘badger baiting’ and having to look up just what badger baiting was. If that was the case, whoever it was missed the boat on not upping the joke ante to ‘apes on ponies.’

    Elaborate on Apes of Reason. I assume you are not referring to this: https://soundcloud.com/the-naked-apes-of-reason

    I’ll add to the discussion the ‘Apes of Wrath.’

    Multiple ‘Apes of Wrath.’

  3. Those invites are so black and white, like there’s no other….oh nevermind.

    A little on the nose?

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