While the snaffle holds

(notes edited by John McGivering)


Published in Plain Tales from the Hills (1888) as a heading to “The Broken-link Handicap”. Collected as a Chapter Heading in Songs from Books (1912) and later collections.

Notes on the Text

Snaffle a jointed bit, less severe than the curb.

long-neck a pattern of spur, worn on the rider’s boot-heel.

Big beam the weighing-machine for the riders, like a gigantic pair of scales usually with a seat at one end and a pan for the weights at the other.

‘ten-three’ Ten stone three pounds, thus 143 pounds, or 64 kg. (A ‘stone’ is 14 pounds.) This was the official weight to be carried by a four-year-old for a three-mile steeplechase.


©John McGivering 2020 All rights reserved