Horse Trotting Rhymes to Play with Older Kids

In my previous blog post I mentioned some English rhymes which can be played with children sitting on adults’ laps, with either babies or older kids.

This time, I’d like to discuss another genre of lap rhymes called Horse Trotting Rhymes.

Horse Trotting Rhymes are usually done with older kids. You wouldn’t want to play these babies since you don’t want to jiggle their heads.

When singing these songs you move your legs up and down with the child on your knees as if they’re riding a horse. Older kids love these rhymes.

Picture Playing a Horse Trotting Rhyme

Ride a Cock-horse to Banbury Cross is one of the best-known English Horse Trotting Rhymes

Ride a Cock-horse to Banbury Cross

Ride a cock-horse* to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.

*A cock-horse is anything a kid rides on and pretends is a horse (i.e. someone’s lap, a rocking horse or a wooden stick with a wooden horses head).

Trot, Trot, Trot to Boston is another well-known Horse Trotting Rhyme. Below I’ve listed some of the variations of the rhyme…

Trot, Trot, Trot to Boston

Trot, trot, trot to Boston
(Gently bounce the child on your knees)

Trot, trot, trot to Lynn.
(Gently bounce again)

Watch out Little One/Girl/Boy/or kids’ name
(Gently bounce knees again)

Or you’ll fall in/You’re going to fall in!/or Cause you might fall in!
(Open knees/Gently bring child down between knees and then lift back up)


Trot, trot to Boston
Trot, trot to Maine
Trot, trot
And home, home again.


Trot, trot, to Boston;
Trot, trot, to Lynn;
Trot, trot, to Salem;
Home, home again.

When singing this next song you move your legs up and down with the child on your knees. With each verse you move your legs a little higher…

This Is the Way the Ladies Ride

This is the way the ladies ride,
Tri, tre, tre, tree,
Tri, tre, tre, tree!
This is the way the ladies ride,
Tri, tre, tre, tre, tri-tre-tre-tree!

This is the way the gentlemen ride,
This is the way the gentlemen ride,

This is the way the farmers ride,
This is the way the farmers ride,

Here’s a similar one…

Here Goes My Lord

Here goes my lord
A trot, a trot, a trot, a trot,
Here goes my lady
A canter, a canter, a canter, a canter!

Here goes my young master
Jockey-hitch*, jockey-hitch, jockey-hitch, jockey-hitch!
Here goes my young miss
An amble, an amble, an amble, an amble!

The footman lags behind to tipple** ale and wine,
And goes gallop, a gallop, a gallop, to make up his time.

*To jockey is to ride a horse like in a race as if you’re a jockey. To hitch is to raise with a jerk. So I believe jockey-hitch describes riding a horse quickly, yet, fitfully up and down.
**To drink

Here’s one more…

Little Shon a Morgan

Little Shon a Morgan
Shentleman of Wales,
Came riding on a nanny-goat,
Selling of pigs’ tails.

Chicky, cuckoo, my little duck,
See-saw, sickna downy;
Gallop a trot, trot, trot,
And hey for Dublin a towny!

If you would like to share any more Horse Trotting Rhymes with us, feel free to tell us about them in the comments below.

The illustration comes from The National Nursery Book.

Enjoy and have fun!

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Sunday, July 27th, 2008 at 9:38 pm and is filed under American Kids Songs, Australia, British Children's Songs, Canada, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, England, English, English Nursery Rhymes, Games Around the World, Horse Trotting Rhymes, Languages, Lap Rhymes, Nursery Rhymes, Nursery Rhymes About Animals, Rhymes by Theme, United Kingdom, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

89 Responses to “Horse Trotting Rhymes to Play with Older Kids”

  1. Tess Says:

    I’m from East Tennessee, and the one I remember best is a little song:

    Gallopy-trot, Gallopy-trot
    All the way to the blacksmith’s shop
    We’ll shoe the horse
    and shoe the mare
    but let the wee baby colt go bare!

  2. Gisela Says:

    I grew up in Germany with the following song, which I am singing to my grandchildren now:
    Hoppe, hoppe Reiter
    Wenn er faellt dann schreit er
    Faeltt er in den Graben
    dann fressen ihn die Raben
    Faellt er in den Sumpf,
    dann macht der Reiter “Plumps”

  3. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for sharing! Would you like to sing it for us? 😀

  4. Maddie Says:

    My grandmother would do this:

    *with child facing away from adult on their lap and bouncing*

    Tidy little horsey go to town

    Tidy little horsey don’t fall down


    *on “fall down boom” the adult would put their legs straight making the child fall a bit or slip down*

  5. Mindy Says:

    please help me with this song/diddy
    My Swedish grandmother would bounce us on her legs and say

    Har coma Heston

    Hopla hoopla hoopla hoopla

    I am missing parts

  6. Lisa Says:

    Hi Mindy – I think there’s a discussion about the rhyme your grandmother said at this link and this link. -Mama Lisa

  7. mom of 7 Says:

    My grandmother was from England and my grandfather was from Ireland and settled in Boston in the early 1900’s, giving birth to 16 children. This rhyme has been passed down to four generations of Foley children. You bounce the child on your knees, then separate your knees to allow the child to gently “fall” backwards during the last part.

    “Trot, trot to Boston,
    Trot, trot to Lynn,
    Be careful when you get there,
    You don’t fall in.”

  8. Jessica Says:

    We’re gonna take a horse and buggy,
    Go traveling through the town.
    Gonna watch those feet go clip clop,
    Gonna watch those wheels go round
    Giddy up horsey, don’t you stop!
    Just let your feet go clippity clop.
    Let your tail go swish and your wheels go round.
    Giddy up horsey we’re homeward bound.

  9. Paulette Says:

    My Norwegian grandmother used to sing a song to us…I don’t know how to spell the words
    or what they mean exactly (something about shoeing a horse). It sounded like this:

    Sku heston, Sku heston
    May tomma o’hog
    For Hans skal gore
    den va en sa long.

    Does anyone know of this song??

  10. Leia Says:

    I used to sing these songs with my children when they were young. Their favourite was “This is the way the ladies ride.” Because I would bounce them differently for each verse. We always sang with the farmer jumping over the fence at the end and lifting the child up in the air! Thank you for publishing these.

  11. Dave Masinter Says:

    My Mom grew up on a farm in Northwest Louisiana and had to have learned this there. Put the child on your knee facing outwards, hands holding their waist and begin softly “Little boy went to town, (Now start raising your heel up and down off the floor in a quick, slightly jarring motion) paaace pace pace pace pace.” (Now in a quick, gruff voice say…) “Along came an old man, (Now begin moving your entire leg up and down off the floor boldly to making a tapping noise as your foot lands and say…) “Hog-sha hog-sha, Watch out Little boy, (now extend your leg straight out and down to the floor to make your leg a slide then push the child down your leg slide and yell…) You’re gonna fall down!”

    “Little boy went to town
    paaace pace pace pace pace,
    Along came an old Man,
    Hog-sha hog-sha
    watch out little boy!
    You’re gonna fall down!”

  12. John Says:

    Interesting. My father used to sing this to me, and I my daughter loved it when I did it with her. Bounce the child on your knee and when the horse “falls”, stick your leg out straight and the kid falls. They love it! I thought my Dad invented it but I guess not!

    “Ride, ride to Boston to buy a loaf of bread.
    Oh my dear, the horse dropped dead!”

  13. Carol A Powers Says:

    Cheri and Rebecca,
    My great grandmother Boyer (nee’ Longnecker) was from Pennsylvania. She taught my Grandmother this “trotty song” and Grandmother sang it to us. My cousin and i remember it slightly differently and no telling how much grandmothers version differed from her grandmothers. Here is my version, please excuse phonetic spelling :
    Ridey ridey giley
    Oony stoony miley
    Obble de gesta
    Doon de fresta
    Oony stoony miley

  14. TaraM. Says:

    Marianne: Your question was: “My Grandma was very French. She used to sit my cousins on her foot with her knees crossed and bounce them holding on to their hands. She sang a song that sounded like “si trot, gros trot” and I’m not sure what came after. Does anyone know this one?” I don’t know if this is it or not, and IF ANYONE ELSE KNOWS THIS SONG, I would be so grateful if you would share any info you have on it. My grandfather was French/Canadian lived in upper peninsula Michigan. He would bounce us on his knee and sing this:

    Le matin, chi put, chi put, chi put, chi put
    Le midi, chi galo, chi galo, chi galo, chi galo
    Le soir, gran galo, gran galo, gran gralo, gran galo.

    The loose translation is this: In the morning you trot along. In the middle, you are at a full stride. By evening you are galloping. The meaning is about life. How at the beginning it goes slowly, mid-life is starting to speed up, and by your later years it is flying by.

    Thanks for any help. Tara

  15. David Sheeler Says:

    Ohio, German Mennonite mother would say while bouncing children on her foot, Ridey ridey gidey, ahava schtunt demily, ridey ridey ivadagrova faschdonasch nomusch dolofa, bump bump, digaschda. If anyone could loosely translate I’d appreciate it.

  16. Dawn Says:

    I grew up in Boston and I remember it this way.
    Ride a horse to Boston to get a loaf of bread.
    Home again, home again, the witch is dead.

  17. Greg Says:

    I learned it as:

    Trot Trot to Boston to buy a loaf of bread
    Trot Trot back again, old Trot’s dead.

  18. Justin Says:

    We used to say:

    Trot, trot to Boston to buy a loaf of bread
    Home, home, home again (child’s name)’s in bed.

    While bouncing the kiddo on the knee and laying them back on the word, “bed.”

  19. Lisa Says:

    Judy G. wrote:

    We knew it as…

    Ride ride to town to get a pound of butter, on the way back (child’s name) fell in the gutter.

    It was played as you stated. Played it with all my grandkids.

  20. Jen mc Says:

    My grandma would bounce me on her knee and sing
    Horsey, horsey, on our way,
    We’ve done the journey for many a day,
    So let your tail go swish, your wheels go round
    Horsey, horsey, we’re homeward bound.

  21. Colin R Says:

    My father used to bounce us on his knee to this one. I loved it, as do my kids now. I grew up in Canada, but expect is probably English in origin.

    (slow bounce)
    Now the horsey walks,
    up… the… hill.
    (fast bounce)
    Now the horsey trots.
    Now he’s still.
    Now he goes…
    (fast jiggly bounce)
    Gallupy, gallupy, gallupy,
    All the way home!

  22. Digger Boyack Says:

    My mother came from County Cork and she used to sing this to my children:

    Gee up little pony to the fair,
    What shall we get when we get there?
    Ha’penny buns and penny pies
    Gee up little pony riding by.

    If I had a pony and it wouldn’t go,
    Do you think I’d whip it No No No
    I’d feed it hay and then I’d say,
    Gee up little pony rode away.

    Are there any more verses to this, that people know of ?

  23. Mary Says:

    I rode my great nieces and nephews today to this one that I remember my Mom playing with my children. Don’t know if anyone else is familiar with it?

    Trot, Trot the horsey going to the Cross
    Saw old (fill in child’s name) on a big fat horse.
    He rode him in,
    But he couldn’t swim,
    So he tied his tail to a hickory limb.

    Never met a 2-6 year old yet who didn’t love the bouncy ride and the fun lyrics.

  24. Anne Johannessen Says:

    Reply to Paulette, Jan 3rd 2016

    I’m pretty sure this is one of various versions of the Norwegian children’s rhyme “Sko Hesten, sko hesten.
    One variation is “Sko Blakken, sko Blakken” – “Blakken” being a generic name for horses (like Dobbin in English).
    Closest version I know to your phonetic memory is this one:

    Sko Blakken, sko Blakken (shoe the horse, shoe the horse)
    med hammer og tang (with hammer and tongs)
    I morra ska `n trave den veien så lang (tomorrow it must trot the long road)

    Sko Blakken, sko Blakken (shoe the horse, shoe the horse)
    sko ‘n væl, sko ‘n væl (shoe it well, shoe it well)
    For i morra skal vi i brureferd (for tomorrow we are going on a wedding trip – NOTE here: in dialect “ferd” is pronounced with an “thick l” for the spelled RD-sound . So it sounds like fæl, and rhymes With “væl” in the previous line. Common for many R/RD-ending Words in southeastern Norwegian dialects. The brudeferd/wedding trip is the journey TO the church for the purpose of being wedded – usually it would be the bride who rode – in all her finery – while the rest walked.

  25. Emma Says:

    Has anyone ever heard this one?
    “So ride, so ride, so ride the lady.
    So ride, so ride, so ride the gentleman.”
    [baby-toddler on knees doing a regular jaunt with both knees up and down together]
    “Long comes the country __?___
    Jogging, jogging, jogging…”
    [OR another word, but the motion is left-right-left-right bouncing baby a bit more irregularly.]
    Then allow the baby to ‘fall’ gently backwards while holding on to her hands while adult says:
    “Take off your hat!”
    [The “off” is elongated.]

    My mother sang this to me and her grandchildren – she grew up in Oklahoma.
    Hoping it is familiar to someone…

  26. Jane Says:

    In Texas, our rhyme was
    Trot trot trot to strawberry town.
    Whoa little horse don’t you fall down.

    And another, with bigger bounces on each line:

    Trot trot trot
    Pace pace pace
    Gallopy gallopy gallopy
    Spill the buttermilk every drop!

  27. PHILIP COOK Says:

    My grandparents in London would give us children what we all called a “Nimney Nom”!
    We’d sit straddling their laps, facing in, holding hands, and they’d recite something like the following:

    And this is the way the lady rides … with gentle jiggling of their legs,
    and this is the way the gentleman rides … slightly more jiggling,
    and this is the way the soldier rides … a bit rougher but very regular,
    and this is the way the farmer rides … very rough giggling, almost impossible to stay on their laps and suddenly their legs would open and we fell backwards onto the floor. We knew we were going to fall, but the timing would always be different so we never knew when! Great fun!

  28. Claire Says:

    For more than four generations of our south Louisiana family, children were bounced as this French rhyme was gleefully recited:

    A Paree, a Paree,
    Sur mon petit cheval le gris.
    A Rouen, a Rouen,
    Sur mon petit cheval le Blanc.

    Il trot, il trot, il trot. (slow bounce)
    Il galop, il galop, il galop. (faster bounce)
    Il cours, il cours, il cours!!! (wild bouncing with giggles)

    This is translated as:

    To Paris, to Paris on my little gray horse.
    To Rouen, to Rouen on my little white horse.
    He trots, he trots, he trots.
    He gallops, he gallops, he gallops!
    He runs, he runs, he runs!!

  29. Samantha Says:

    My mom always sung to us… And I do to my girls…

    Trot a little horsey
    Trot trot trot
    Spill your buttermilk
    Every drop
    (And then open ur knees and they fall between them) haha

  30. Nicole Says:

    This originated with my great grandmother who was born in Scotland. Would love to know if its familiar to anyone.

    Trot a little horsey to Morgantown
    Take that little boy/girl don’t fall down
    Stump your toe, crack your gourd, spill all your mustard seed
    Boom! (Kids fall off your leg)

  31. Lisa Says:

    Sylvia W. wrote:

    “I am 58. What I learned from my mom, who has passed away, is:

    Ride (a) little horsey
    Down to town,
    Leading a goat,
    Barking a hound.
    The hound did bark,
    The goat did jump,
    Down went (child’s name)
    Straddle a stump!

    Bounce while singing, either let the child slide down legs or spread your legs enough they go down, still straddle your legs, to the ground.”

  32. Rebecca Ciliberti Says:

    My mother & her twin sister were raised by a German/PA Dutch woman.
    My Mother remembers the verse. After putting the grandchildren on the ankle of her crossed leg, she would hold their hands and bounce them while singing to them.
    Phoenetically I’ll repeat:
    Hoopa hoopa giley
    On da schtooda miley
    Morgan missa hoopa dressa
    Whoop get a fork

    My German teacher in ‘76 helped roughly translate because she remembered similar that they went to the store in the morning and hit a bump on the way back and that’s when she would bump up the foot highest. Of course the babies always giggled and laughed.

    Mom is 95 and her twin. My brother’s dna told us the twins are Scottish, Irish, English and are still kicking. Both had hip replacements, this exercise was when they were much younger.

  33. Ken Reese Says:

    My German grandmother used to give small children rides on her ankle much like the illustration at the beginning of this blog. She recited a little ditty while doing so. It went like this, please disregard the spelling, it is strictly phonetic.
    So faun de dom
    So faun de dom
    So riden de ham
    So riden de ham
    Ta hoop, ta hoop, ta hoop.
    Can you possibly help me out here?

  34. Kayla Says:

    Hey there! I haven’t been able to find this ANYWHERE but I’ve got one my parents used to do for me. I’m just missing like, 2 words. This is all done with a bounce, and a “fall” (dip) at the end.

    Here we go to —- town,
    To buy some sugar and ‘lasses
    On the way back, horsey falls down,
    And DROP! [fall]
    Goes the sugar and ‘lasses

  35. Lisa Says:

    Kayla – I’ve seen many variants of this type of rhyme with the names of different towns and cities. Maybe your parents used the name of a town near where they grew up. -Mama Lisa

  36. Tania Allan Says:

    ” Here comes the lady – nimble, nimble nimble”
    ” Here comes the gentlemen-trot, trot trot”
    “Here comes the farmer, riding on his cart horse, bumpedy bumpedy bumpedy bumpedy in to the ditch”!

  37. Linda Pines Says:

    When I was a child, I heard a rhyme said with a heavy New York accent that began:
    “da horsey has 4 legs, one on each corner”. I used to tell this to my children but couldn’t remember any more of it. They’d just laugh at how I’d say it. Now grown they have tried to find the whole rhyme/tale with no luck. Has anyone ever heard of this?

  38. Peg Gordon Says:

    My father was from Co Clare, Ireland and would sing… Up, up the horsie and up up again… don’t remember anymore. Any ideas?

  39. Andy Says:

    Didn’t see this one posted. My mom would always do this one when I was young and it has come back around with my kids (her grandkids). We have a very Anglo heritage:

    Bimbay horsey, going to the mill.
    Look out horsey, don’t take a spill!

    Obviously, you say “spill,” you straighten your legs and let the child slide down.

Leave a Reply