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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Back when brakes weren't a thing.

    I saw an 18th century noble's mansion, forgotten by people and time,sitting on a hillock.
    We generally see noblemen building their castles and palaces at the hilltops, to gain strategical edge and to intimidate commoners.
    A though suddenly struck me, after seeing remains of a chariot nearby. How was this noble escorted on a horse-drawn carriage down the hill? Horses are great at climbing but terrible at coming down.
    They know their limits,so surely they would be reluctant and offer resistance to the charioteer.
    But after getting whipped, they would budge. Then how does this chariot get down unharmed?
    Without tyres to offer rolling friction and smooth wheels. chariots are made to run at flash speeds.
    The carriage, the horses, passengers etc.., in total can easily reach 500kgs. A 500 kg weight can come down the hill at a 60kmph speed.
    This is unbelievable, the ride would be very rough and a lot of tumbling might happen.
    Chariots, most of them atleast, didn't have brakes.
    With what and how the accidents were prevented?

    Note: Please don't shift it to Ask experts. I need opinions. Not answers.
  • #617109
    Aditya, you have come up with a tricky question,many some history buffs can answer us. If we think logically, these chariots who have to be heavy (except the war 'Ben Hur' types built for speed) to carry the weights and most chariots would have had a solid wooden wheel. The way to cut down the speed would have to do with the pathways up the hillock, must be a gradual sloping incline rather than steep ones,maybe like a zig zag route with a heavy wooden block kept intermittently when stopping on a slope or to reduce the speed. The horses would have reins that would enable the chariot rider to reign them in and cut the speed. The traffic would certainly not be a problem. May be they trained their horses in a different manner to adapt for this steep downhill course.

  • #617111
    This is something different thinking. The horses will be well controlled by the Chariots. They know the technic of getting the work they wanted. They will also train the horses for getting up the hill as well as coming down the hill. In my school days, I used to travel by carts pulled by horses. There will be a driver who drives that cart with the horse. He was controlling the horse for its speed. Those carts also don't have any brakes. In the nights They control the speed with their hand stick. Even in chariots also the chariot may be doing the same. Again once they get trained in getting up and getting down it will become easy for the driver to control.
    always confident

  • #617113
    Even in the old days before the brakes came into existence, people knew how to slow down and stop a horse carriage. The horse/s upon a specific signal or voice command would slow down and stop. The carriage will have a solid framework linking the horses to the carriage body. The carriage slows and stops in the same speed as the horses do. The strength of the horse/s prevent the carriage from rolling onward in normal gentle slopes.

  • #617116
    Yes. I agree. I know very well about commands.
    But here's a question. Horses fear getting down. How are charioteers being able to push an animal over it's fear?
    Horses and bulls generally avoid getting down at all costs. How does this nature-defying stunt take place?

    The stronger a light shines the darker are the shadows around it.

  • #617163
    That ability to overcome fear comes from the trust factor between the horse and carriage driver. Horses (and other animals, people, including little toddlers), can take the steps to overcome their natural fear. And sometimes it is the fear of the driver's whip is more than the fear of charging downhill. The former is always a better option.

    You'd have seen people living with some wild animals like bear, tigers, lions, etc. Even though they are not naturally tame animals, they play around like thick friends. There is the trust and respect factor there.

    During World War 2, General Patton is credited to have whipped into shape a sloppy and fearful military personnel into a fighting force, putting the fear of his wrath upon the soldiers (or something like that) so that the men in his command feared and respected him more than they feared the enemy bullets and bombs.

    If you didn't know swimming, and someone who is capable and cares for you very much asks you to jump, you'd be willing to jump into the water knowing you won't be forsaken. God's trust in us is like that, and it never fails.

  • #617167
    From my observation on watching a chariot moving in live, I strongly believe that the horses which drive them are the masters themselves and the command given by the charioteer matters the most. Horses can ride fast, gallop fast and at the same time sense impending danger on the route and slow down. Certainly it cannot apply sudden brake as the horse shoes likely to slip on a smooth surface. Yes there are instances when the charioteer with his ignorance and even feared about the enemy attack may hasten the horses to drive left or right and thus confused over commands the horse may hit upon the objects en-route and even tumble. And now how the horses take right or left turn. When the rope which is tied to its nose was pulled towards its left means the horses would turn left and right means on the right side. And for stopping the horse suddenly the charioteer has to get up and pull the rope straight towards his chest.
    K Mohan
    'Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum "
    Even this challenging situation would ease

  • #617170
    I feel there must have been a braking system for the chariots. While coming down a slope, it will be very difficult for the horse alone to counter the momentum. I do not think the persons riding the chariots are foolish enough to risk their lives.
    " Be Good and Do Good "

  • #617172

    Chariots were better controlled once spokes were invented, Around the same time the horse 'mouth bit' also was invented which gave riders better control over the horses. The crucial part was a large block of wood covered with leather that would be pressed down on the wheel directly by a lever which would help the chariot to slow down. This in fact forms the basis of brakes, imagine the simple brake we have for our cycle. once we apply the brakes, a metal piece covered with stiff rubber presses on the rim of the wheel and we slow down. Hope this answers our questions.

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