Withers of a Horse

(The) are the muscles which unite the neck and shoulders. The skin of this part of a horse is often galled by the pommel of an illfitting saddle, and then the irritation of the saddle makes the horse wince. In 1 Henry IV., ii. 1, one of the carriers gives direction to the ostler to ease the saddle of his horse, Cut. “I prythee, Tom, beat Cut's saddle the poor jade is wrung on the withers,” that is, the muscles are wrung, and the skin galled by the saddle. And Hamlet says (iii. 2):

“Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung.”

That is, let those wince who are galled; as for myself, my withers are not wrung, and I am not affected by the “bob.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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