It is winter time in the Northern Hemisphere and in the olden days our ancestors in Europe (and to some extend in North America) used sleigh as transport vehicle, and in the Old Poland lands this was time for for going hunting and''kulig'' or a sleight party :)
In a short time the court was filled with sledges, and the saloon with guests. The ladies were all dressed in the costume of their villagers, and accompanied with their husbands, cousins, or admirers, all likewise dressed as the peasants of the neighbourhood. Madam Wabinska received them with a gladness and welcome that could only come from the heart, and had a compliment ready for every lady or gentleman, sometimes upon their dress, at other times on something else, but all delivered with that grace, which we can admire and appreciate, without being able to imitate, and which belongs exclusively to the ladies. The table was already covered, and the guests, when assembled, had nothing more to do than to sit down to their light repast, before proceeding farther, as they well knew that Kurowo was not the end of their journey. The house of Madam Wabinska was only the rendezvous; the horses had ten good English miles to travel further before they reached their goal.
The judge mounted the same sledge with a young widow, to the great mortification of a young gentleman, who had already, in anticipation, occupied the seat. The musicians were all placed in the first sledge, and although not one of them knew how to play a rondino, or a rondolletto, yet they knew how to please the travellers, and played la polonaise of Kosciuszko.
The principal sledge, and that which followed immediately after the musicians, was covered with Turkish tapestry, and built in the form of a stag reposing in the midst of a forest after a tiresome chase. The head, formed of wood, and turned towards the horses, was adorned with real antlers, the numerous tines upon which gave them the appearance of two trees stripped of their leaves by the wind. The pedestal, upon which the stag reposed, and which represented the green sward, was supported by four little pillars fixed in the skates, about four feet distant from each other, at the end furthest from the horses, describing a half circle, and narrowing by little and little until they approached the front of the sledge, where they were united, and terminated in a gilded ball, elevated a little in front of the stag's head. These skates serve in place of the wheels of a carriage, and enable the sledges to slide along upon the frozen snow. The back of the stag was hollowed out in such a manner as to allow two persons to sit in it; and behind, upon the extremities of the skates, stood a servant, who guided the horses, crackling his whip, at the end of which was fixed a red ribbon, making a noise in the wind blowing keenly from the north.
Felicjan Andon Wolski – A sledge party in Poland 1830 (Glasgow, 1835)
sledge, of polished walnut or maple wood, scarcely heavier than an arm-chair. The horses are bright bay or jet-black, glossy in coat, and so sleek and fat, that the near horse, as he canters or gallops along, covers the trace with foam ; for the near horse gallops always the same shoulder foremost, his neck being rounded, from his head being strapped down, so that his long mane almost trails in the snow. The off horse in reality draws the vehicle. He is harnessed between shafts, and these shafts are held forcibly apart, so as to yield him some support, by a bow about the thickness of a man’s wrist, which rises high over his head, above the collar, and to which he is bound by a bearing-rein. This horse trots, whilst
the one beside him canters, and the effect is very graceful, when the galloping horse, or pristastcluz, is
showy; but it is painful to behold, when the curb of the neck, instead of appearing natural in a fiery animal, is evidently torturing some worn-out brute, which flounders wearily along, as is so often the case. In this sledge sits an ofiicer in the guards — a Russian nobleman — enveloped in the light bluish-grey cloak of the Russian army, with a collar of the beautiful fur of the sea-otter muffling up his face, and a white cock-tail feather streaming from his preposterously large cocked-hat. He is a man of family and fortune ; his conversation will amuse you for an hour; he appears high-bred and gentleman-like ; but converse with him for a thousand hours, and the theme is always the same — champagne, cards, and French actresses.