Thursday, November 6, 2014

Vol. 4 No. 81 Where Did Hurdles Come From Daddy?

I'm certain many of you have lain awake wondering where the word 'hurdle' comes from and what was the original use of a hurdle?   Maybe you even fell asleep counting sheep jumping over hurdles that were made too low to keep them in their pens.   The answer came to me the  other day when looking through an old picture book of the English country side and there was a photo of a man thatching a roof with grass.  The thatch was inserted into a frame on the roof called a 'hurdle'.  The second use of the hurdle was a section of fencing used to keep livestock in place overnight.   So there you are.   Men at leisure have evolved into hurdlers vying for prizes and awards by running and hurdling over hurdles.   Perhaps hurdling began as a contest at country fairs in England or France back in the middle ages.  One of the pictures below makes reference to hurdles being used in 1348 in England.


       Old English hyrdel ‘temporary fence,’ of Germanic origin; related to Dutch horde and German Hürde .

High Hurdles?
Note similarities in construction with above hurdle

Low Hurdles?

Hurdle crew at the county fair.   Intermediates?

Work on your form if you wish to re-establish the old Greek
Olympic tradition of naked running

My money is on lane 5

This is not what the manufacturer intended.
Hurdling or Hurling?
Probably the meanest hurdle ever.

We commonly used a form of the "hurdle" on the farm, when separating pigs and sheep. It was usually about 4' high and 6' wide, solid wood (plywood) with a hole cut in middle, top, to use as a grip. The animals can be running full speed in one direction, and when the "hurdle" is placed in front of them, they will stop immediately. Logically you would expect them to crash through or glance off to the side, but as my dad explained, "They are dumb", and just stop in their tracks. Probably just conditioning from being penned up.
Bruce Kriztler
Man, hurdling can be tough bidness.    Richard Trace

 Surely there's a connection with British horseracing. There are three basic horse races: flat, steeplechase (high varied jumps) and hurdles (standard lower jumps). I suspect that the idea to race over hurdles in track came originally from horseracing.  John Cobley

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