To ride the skimmington, or Riding the stang. To be hen-pecked. Grose tells us that the man rode behind the woman, with his face to the horse's tail. The man held a distaff, and the woman beat him about the jowls with a ladle. As the procession passed a house where the woman was paramount, each gave the threshold a sweep. The “stang” was a pole supported by two stout lads, across which the rider was made to stride. Mr. Douce derives “skimmington” from the skimming -ladle with which the rider was buffeted. The custom was not peculiar to Scotland and England; it prevailed in Scandinavia; and Hoefnagel, in his Views in Seville (1591), shows that it existed in Spain also. The procession is described at length in Hudibras, pt. ii. ch. ii.
“ `Hark ye, Dame Ursley Suddlechop,' said Jenkin, starting up, his
eyes flashing with anger: `remember, I am none of your husband, and if
I were you would do well not to forget whose threshold was swept when
they last rode the skimmington upon such another scolding jade at
yourself.' ” —
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894