Green’s Dictionary of Slang

shanks’s pony n.

also Mother Shanks’ mare, shank’s, shanks’s mare, ...nag, ...naggy, shank-naggy
[SE shank, a leg + pony/mare/nag/naggie; note synon. US regional ride one’s mother’s colt/granny’s colt/mother’s pony etc.]

walking, on foot; usu. as ride/take/mount/travel on/go by/go on/use... (see ride shank’s mare under ride v.).

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Shanks naggy, To ride shanks naggy: to travel on foot. (Scotch).
[UK]J. Wetherell Adventures of John Wetherell (1954) 26 Jan. 206: We rested a while took a draw of the pipe [...] and then mounted shank-naggy and away we went through thick and thin.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 608: †† Padding the hoof—Travelling on Shanks’s mare, or taking a turn by the marrow-bone stage, i.e. walking.
[Aus]Australian (Sydney) 4 July 3/3: Many a ‘cove’ that would not, or could not raise the wind, toddled it on ‘shanks mare’.
[UK]Windsor & Eton Exp. 14 Dec. 4/5: One of the whippers-in was compelled to leave his horse behind and ride Shank’s mare.
[UK]Chelmsford Chron. 15 Jan. 3/2: Time was [...] when the public were used more frequently to ride Shank’s mare.
[Ind]E.R. Sullivan Bungalow or Tent 138: Hunting [...] in the mountains of Ceylon must be prosecuted on foot [...] I have [...] respect and affection for that useful hack, Mother Shanks’ Mare.
[UK]C. Kingsley Westward Ho II 216: ‘To London? How wilt thou get there?’ ‘On Shanks his mare,’ said Jack, pointing to his bandy legs.
Carroll Free Press (Carrollton, OH) 19 Mar. 4/2: Give the farmer a serviceable cob to ride when ‘shanks’ mare’ gets old and stiff.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US]Dly Phoenix (Columbia, SC) 21 Mar. 2/5: [He] from that point to Danville [...] and thence to Washington, will ‘ride shank’s mare’.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 284: Shank’s mare ‘to ride shank’s mare,’ to go on foot.
[UK]Leics. Chron. 6 Mar. 5/2: ‘I came on shanks’ nag, my own legs’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Mar. 9/1: That peculiar species of locomotion which was known to the Ancient Greeks as ‘prancing out on shanks’ pony’.
[UK]Chambers’s Journal 2 May 287: Your true swagsman detests the sight of a horse... give him shanks’ mare [F&H].
N.Z. Press 12 Dec. 6/6: We had to use bullock drays in our times [....] or else shank’s pony.
[UK]Licensed Victuallers’ Gazette 9 Jan. n.p.: The distance had choked off those whose only mode of locomotion was shanks’s mare [F&H].
[UK]E.W. Rogers [perf. Marie Lloyd] Not for Bill [lyrics] ‘Shank’s pony’ made our little masher cuss .
[UK]Marvel 12 Nov. 16: Two tramps were travelling through a wood, each doing the journey on Shank’s pony.
[US]C. M’Govern By Bolo and Krag 204: Two heavily-looded [sic] pack ponies, and me and Oyster on Shanks’ mares.
[UK]Boys’ Best 20 Oct. 45: He was pretty smart doing five miles on shank’s pony.
Alexandra Gaz. (DC) 16 Nov. 4/1: The majority of the men and boys would ride ‘Shanks’ Mare’.
[WI]J.G. Cruickshank Black Talk 54: To ‘take walk’ does not necessarily mean to go on Shank’s mare.
[UK]Aberdeen Press 19 May 4/2: Motorists, like people who ride shanks mare, have many grievances.
[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 8/2: Go by shank’s Mare – Walk.
[UK]Aberdeen Jrnl 15 Dec. 3/5: There was naething for’t than but t’ set oot on Shank’s naiggie.
[UK]C.G. Gordon Crooks of the Und. 225: The tramp would scorn to avail himself of any such mechanical means of transport as the ‘iron horse,’ ‘Shanks’ pony’ being quite good enough for him.
[Aus]Dly Mercury (Mackay, Qld) 22 June 11/4: To his more law-abiding brothers in poverty who preferred Shanks’ mare, he was looked, upon as a hobo apart, a disgrace to the profession.
[UK]Dundee Courier 4 Mar. 7/3: [headline] A City Rides Shank’s Mare. No Buses, Trams or Trains.
[US]P.G. Brewster ‘Folk “Sayings” From Indiana’ in AS XIV:4 261: When travelling, ‘uses Shanks’ mare’ in order to save money.
[UK]Sevenoaks Chron. 1 Nov. n.p.: It ran only twice a day. Any other time [...] you had to ride Shank’s pony.
[Poster] Go by shanks’ pony Walk short distances and leave room for those who have longer journeys.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 65: ‘How’re you travelling?’ ‘Shanks.’.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ They’re a Weird Mob (1958) 72: Done me shirt on the first, though. Shanks’ pony ’ome, I reckoned.
[US]T. Williams Night of the Iguana Act II: I will go on shank’s mare, Mrs Faulk – islanders are good walkers.
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 103: Long time since I did much of this shank’s lark.
[NZ]J.A. Lee Shiner Slattery 26: I’m going by shank’s pony with my swag upon my back.
[Aus]P. Adam-Smith Barcoo Salute 25: Before the first plane landed here, the only access was on Shank’s pony.
[UK]T. Jones Adrift 61: [Ch. title] Shank’s Pony.
[US]H. Harrison Bill [...] on the Planet of Robot Slaves (1991) 210: Shank’s mare, boyo, good for the muscle tone.
[Ire]P. O’Keeffe Down Cobbled Streets, A Liberties Childhood 36: There was no other way to school except on shank’s mare.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 17: A foot-falcon is a widespread indigenous Lingoism for travelling on foot, similar to shank’s pony.
[US]S. King Dreamcatcher 156: The poor man’s steed, shank’s mare.