Birching horse

Drawing of a birching horse by Louis Malteste.
Woman or girl on a birching horse, drawing by the same artist.

A birching horse is an item of spanking furniture used for birching, i.e. corporal punishment given with a birch. Similar items are the birching block, the birching table, and the birching pony. When such a "horse" is used for other forms of chastisement or punishment, it is also known as punishment horse or whipping horse, or similarly. Another term for it is birching donkey.

Birching horses were used in the U.K. for judicial and prison corporal punishment, both for juvenile and adult offenders. It is unsure if they were also used in the military or in schools.


The typical design of a birching horse is a trestle that resembles a sawhorse, but is padded on top and sometimes more triangular/wedge shaped. The height is such that the spankee's legs are off the floor when positioned over the horse.

The delinquent was laid lengthwise over the horse and restrained with straps or rope by his wrists. Optional additional restraint points were his back and/or legs. The spankee's legs would be on either side of the horse so that he/she was straddling it. The birching was generally given on the bare bottom.

In schools, a vaulting horse or vaulting-buck was sometimes used in a similar manner (albeit usually without restraints). Aboard training ships, a capstan, bitt or the barrel of a cannon was used (see kissing the gunner's daughter).

Birching horse vs. Spanish horseEdit

A birching horse looks somewhat similar to the Spanish horse, but the Spanish horse was a torture device designed to bring severe pain and genital injuries to a person forced to sit on its sharp upper edge. The birching horse, in contrast, was (or is) designed not to sit but to lie on, and is often padded so the delinquent is resonably comfortable lying on it.

The birching horse in filmEdit

  • A New Job (Lupus Pictures) uses an elaborate, newly designed birching horse that's hinged in the center and includes knee and hand rests. It is a kind of hybrid between a birching horse and a spanking bench. See example still (M/F)  Warning:  


See alsoEdit