July 30th, 2010
Why do riders in westerns always mount their horse from the left?
Many horse owners probably already know this but for those who don’t, there is an interesting story behind it – and it doesn’t just apply to westerns. Mounting this way dates back to the Medieval Times and times of the Crusades. In those days men wore heavy armour when they went to battle and this armour included long swords carried in sheaths called scabbards. Since most men were right handed, the sword was worn on the left, to give easier access to the right hand. Mounting from the right while wearing the sword placed horse and rider at risk of injury from the scabbard.
As swords were replaced by rifles, the habit continued since rifles are about the same size and shape of the scabbard. The main difference is that the rifle was fixed to the saddle and not the rider. The modern western saddle is an evolved version of the saddles used in those days. It is believed that the English style of riding, which uses a different style of saddle, is similar because the Cavalry mounted that way for the same reasons. Most riders have a preferred side though it is recommended that your horse be trained to accept either side in case you are ever injured and unable to mount from the left.
Carpet bags seem to feature a lot in westerns. Are they really made of carpet? Also, where does the term ‘Carpetbagger’ come from?
Yes, they are made of carpets. Impressive, isn’t it? Unlike today’s wasteful culture the resourcefulness of people in the old days continues to teach us lessons. When a carpet needed replacing after high traffic areas became too damaged to repair, the parts of the carpet that were still in good shape were cut up to make the bags – if they couldn’t be used to make a smaller carpet for another area. Attached to a sturdy frame, carpet bags could last a lifetime. Poorly constructed frames tended to be the main reason they fell apart. Carpet bags ranged in sizes but most tended to be about the size of a small suitcase. Some were designed to open out so they could be used as blankets when the owner traveled away from home. I can only imagine how difficult sewing them up must have been.
The expression ‘Carpetbagger’ arose at the end of the American Civil War. It described opportunistic people who came to take advantage of Southerners whose plantations were sold at drastically reduced prices. These people were also known to be looters. To call someone a carpetbagger was no compliment. The name came from the fact that nearly all of them carried at least one carpet bag.
Did You Know?
Cameron Mitchell had a huge appetite! It was not unusual for his breakfast to consist of chicken noodle soup, calf’s liver and onions, and mashed potato with gravy.
The HC episode Our Lady of Guadalupe ran on December 20, 1968. The feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe is usually between December 8th to 12th, so running the episode in late December was almost like a Christmas episode.