Jump to: navigation, search

One-horse shay

File:Old One Horse Shay.jpg
One-horse shay in c. 1910

The one-horse shay is a light, covered, two-wheeled carriage for two persons, drawn by a single horse. It is the American adaptation, originating in Union, Maine[1], of the French chaise, and is also known as a whisky as its owners tended to whisk about doing errands. The body is chairlike in shape and has one seat for passengers positioned above the axle, which is hung by leather braces from wooden springs connected to the shafts. It is colloquially known as a one-hoss shay.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. memorialized the shay in his light poem " or The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay". The fictional deacon built this wonderful one horse shay so it wouldn't break down. He built it from the very best of materials so that each part was as strong as every other part. In Holmes' humorous, yet "logical", twist, the shay endures for a hundred years to the day (actually to the moment of the 100th year of the Lisbon Earthquake — to the precise hour of the earthquake shock) then it "went to pieces all at once, and nothing first, — just as bubbles do when they burst." It was built in such a "logical way" that it ran a hundred years to a day.

In economics, the term "one-hoss shay" is used, following the scenario in Holmes' poem, to describe a model of depreciation, in which a durable product delivers the same services throughout its lifetime before failing with zero scrap value. A chair is a common example of such a product.[2]


  1. Maine League of Historical Societies and Museums (1970). Doris A. Isaacson. ed. Maine: A Guide 'Down East'. Rockland, Me: Courier-Gazette, Inc.. p. 160. 
  2. "OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms - One-hoss shay". http://stats.oecd.org/glossary/detail.asp?ID=1904. Retrieved 2007-10-02. 

External links


Premier Equine Classifieds


Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...

The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...

That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...