//Carousel and horses
Prater Park Carousel with Ponys

Carousel and horses

The carousel has been part of the entertainment of the human being for centuries. The birth of the carousels is intimately linked to the presence of horses, but it was not always fun. Today we will study the origin of the carousel and its importance in the history of humanity. We will also see what are the most famous, historical and recognized carousels today.

It is difficult to imagine any person who has not seen in his life some carousel of horses. Whether in a movie, live or through photographs, almost anyone understands the idea of the carousel. Things have changed and the entertainment of children today is different. Today we see carousels with spaceships, rockets and carts.

In spite of this, the caballitos still persist in many places as part of the carousels. Today’s children do not play with the same toys, they do not dream of the same things and they do not play the same but the carousel refuses to die.


The evolution of society

To think that society is going to stay static is unthinkable. The truth is that many of us still have memories of riding a carrousel. At some point in our childhood we rode a carousel to travel “the world” while imagining that we galloped a powerful horse.

This tradition persists in many places in the world. We still find carousels at fairs in the villages or at tourism fairs. Some carousel even have historical character. The carousels emerge as from somewhere in history forgotten to become entertainment for children and even for adults.

In the books about toy stories, there is always an allusion to the carousel of the horses. Likewise, the great collectors, always have in their possession a carousel. This is what we call among collectors a “mandatory item”

Origin of the word carousel

The word carousel has its origins in the Italian language “garosello” and in the Spanish “carosella” which means small battle, used by the crusaders to describe a training exercise for combat and a common game between the Turkish and Arab horsemen towards 1100.

Prater Carousel with ponys
Prater Carousel with ponys

History of the carousel and its origins

The origin of the word carousel is related to different experiences.

One of them has to do with the exercise of war. Later, with the passage of time it was transformed. What was an exercise in war became an entertaining activity for the military in their leisure time.

Later this entertainment was dabbling in the civil field and became a fun for adults and children. The idea of enjoying the sensation of speed and of riding without having the experience is a great part of the attraction of the carousel.

Carousel and its military expression

Military Carousel
Military Carousel

The first carrousel appears registered in an engraving in low relief of the Byzantine Empire. The date of this work is located in the year 500 AD. In the low relief engraving a group of people is shown in baskets suspended from a central post.

The carousel was considered a mechanism for the training of the cavalry. The same was used in the preparation of the riders for the battle when attacking with wooden swords dolls representing the enemy. This way the riders were prepared to handle the sword under the resistance of the air and the necessary precision to use the sword in movement.

What happened when the Crusaders discovered the carousel?

They say that the Crusaders discovered this method and later took the idea to their lords and kings in Europe. They began to adapt it to their combat workouts

For a time, the carousel remained a secret of war within the castles. Its use was of exclusive character for the training of the riders. At that time the carousels were not shown to the general public.

How were the military carousels used?

The historians and scholars of the subject indicate that Turkish and Arab cavalry incorporated the carousel in the 17th century. It is recorded that a carousel was built around the year 1680 as a training apparatus.

The apparatus consisted of wooden horses suspended from beams supported by a central column. The riders in motion on the carousel practiced with their spears.

During training the riders tried to thread rings that were located around the circle that was spinning. The carousels that were built at the time were moved by men, horses or mules.

The carousel as entertainment

Over the years, small carousels were built that were installed in the private gardens of the royal palaces.

Around that time in France, a great artifact was put together that was placed in Paris in “Le Place du Carrousel” (the Carrousel Square). The square was built in 1662 to locate the carousel that gave its name to the square.

The square of the carousel was of a modest size and was next to the palace of the Tuileries which was destroyed in 1871 and with it the square was destroyed. For more than 10 years they remained their ruins to remember the past. In 1883 it was decided to remove the ruins of the Palace of Tulerías and restore “Le Place du Carrousel”

Prater Carousel with ponys
Prater Carousel with ponys

Some of the historical entertainment carousels

Many carousels are by their particular characteristics or by their antiquity represent a historical heritage. Some are closed due to deterioration and are in the process of recovery. Others the change of mentality in societies has led to its closure. These are two of the most important historical carousels:

Prater carousel pulled by Ponys

The carousel of the Prater park, the Vienna amusement park closed after 129 years of operation. What made this different is that in it the children could ride on real ponies.

The Wiener Pony-Caroussel stopped functioning in September 2016 due to pressures from groups of activists in favor of animal rights.

The international NGO “Vier Pfoten” considered that the presence of live animals in the carousels is not according to the times. Because of this, the ponies were removed from the attraction, sent to rural homes and the company in charge of the management of the carousel placed wooden horses in its place to replace the previous ones.

Below we can see a video of when the attraction was active.

1. Ponny-Caroussel im Wiener Prater 2010.avi

The oldest carousel in the world

Although the oldest carousel in the world for fun is active, neither adults nor children can ride there.

The carousel is located in Germany and was originally created for the amusement of Prince William IX of Hesse-Kassel in 1780. It is located in the Wilhelmsbad Park in Hanau.

It was completely restored due to the passage of time and the damages received by a bomb during the Second World War. Restoration work began in 2010 and has been completed.

Given the historical nature of the carousel, the German state invested 4.1 million euros in its restoration. According to the words of its restorers, the level of care used with the horses was the same as the one they would dedicate to a Gothic sculpture.

The carousels accompany the man

They accompany the man from 500AC. Whether for war training or for entertainment, his story tells the story of man and accompanies him. Now that you see a carousel, you will know that it will not only be fun for your children, but that through them you will know the history of humanity.








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