What Is Hobbling?

Blake, in Clay’s Ark, finds his daughters and self captured by the car family in Present 22. He awakes in a dark room to find himself restrained by plastic cuffs and fears he may be “hobbled” (page 575). While reading this, I was unaware hobbling meant, so I did a little research in case others had never heard of the term before this book.

The Merriam-Webster definition of hobble is:

  1. To cause to limp : make lame : cripple
  2. To fasten together the legs of (an animal, such as a horse) to prevent straying: fetter
  3. To place under handicap: hamper, impede

To hobble, or hopple, is an act used mostly on horses. A hobble is usually a rope attaching two of the horses legs. A hobble allowed owners to attend to other activities if there wasn’t a post to tie their horse to; it also allowed horses to graze without straying too far from a temporary location. Hobbling can also be used to train a horse to stand still. Here is a guide for hobbling horses: https://www.equisearch.com/articles/panic-free-hobbling-lessons-your-horse


Fair warning: this is where hobbling turns more gruesome.

The hobbling of people differs significantly. Hobbling a person is the act of crushing the bones in a person’s ankles and feet so that they may not walk; it is mostly used as a form of torture. In an article about a dig at Sacred Ridge in Colorado (an early Pueblo settlement), a pit was found filled with crushed human bone fragments. The foot bones found showed signs of hobbling and suggest that it may have been used as a form of demonstration to warn other communities of the consequences of possible conflict.

Here is a link to the article: http://westerndigs.org/evidence-of-hobbling-torture-discovered-at-ancient-massacre-site-in-colorado/


Another example of hobbling is shown in the 1990 film, starring Kathy Bates and James Caan, “Misery” based on the novel by Stephen King. Here is an attached link of the hobbling scene (I want to point out this shows the actual act of hobbling for those who may not want to see a theatrical version) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbfkNI2d_A


Blake fears being hobbled, because losing the ability to walk will mean losing the ability to escape the car family and, ultimately, the ability to save his two daughters from possible death by their captors or death from the virus spread to them by Eli’s mountain community.

Link to the Merriam-Webster definition https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hobble

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