Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Cuddy Alang

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

CUDDY ALANG (J8x32) 3C (4C set) Ruary Laidlaw Lochiel Collection

1- 8 1M dances in, casts to 2nd place (2M step up) and turns 3L RH. 1M finishes in 2nd place
9-16 1L repeats, turning 3M LH (2L steps up 11-12)
17-24 1M+3s also 1L+2s dance RH across. 1s pass RSh 1M+2s also 1L+3s dance LH across. 2134
25-32 2s+1s+3s circle 6H round and back

(MINICRIB, Dance Crib compiled by Charles Upton, Deeside Caledonian Society, and his successors)


Cuddy Alang
An 8 x 32 bar jig for three couples in a longwise four couple set.

1 - 4 The first man dances in and up a little way and casts off into second place for four steps. Second man moves up on bars 3 and 4.
5 - 8 The first man then turns the third lady with the right hand. First man finishes in second place.
9-12 The first lady dances in and up a little way and casts off into second place for four steps. The second lady moves up on bars 3 and 4 of the phrase.
13-16 The first lady turns the third man with the left hand. First lady finishes in second place.
17-20 The first man dances a right hand wheel with the third couple, while... the first lady dances a right hand wheel with the second couple.
The first couple pass right shoulder in the middle of the set and...
21-24 The first man dances a left hand wheel with the second couple while... The first lady dances a left hand wheel with the third couple.
First couple again finishing in second place.
25-32 The first three couples then dance a six hand circle round and back.
The first couple finish in second place, ready to start again

(Dance Crib compiled by the deviser, Ruary Laidlaw, 2000)


Dance Notes

Bars 17 to 24, the three handed wheels.

Dance Information

A cuddy is a horse or pony and "Cuddy alang! " was a command from the rider to the horse, "Get along horse!"

"Frog he would a wooing ride,
Cuddy alang! Cuddy alang!
Frog he would a wooing ride,
Sword and pistol by his side,
Cock ma cary cuddy alang
Cuddy alang and I"
From "The Frog and the Mouse", by Anonymouse.

Howard McNally gave me (Ruary Laidlaw) these notes about cuddies or horses;
Something interesting to ponder...
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8½ inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.
Why was that gauge used?
Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.
Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
Why did "they" use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. OK!
Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads?
The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.
And the ruts in the roads?
The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels, were first formed by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Thus the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet 8½ inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what "back end of a horse" came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses. Thus we have the answer to the original question.

Now the twist to the Story...
There's an interesting extension to this story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds...
When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site, the railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is already wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of the BACK END OF A HORSE.

Cuddy Alang Roman Chariot Image
Cuddy Alang - Roman Chariot At Viroconium


Image Copyright Terry Johnson under this Creative Commons Licence.

Back to the top of this Scottish Country Dancing Instructions 'Cuddy Alang' page