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In recent months, “planking,” an Internet-fueled fad, has travelled the globe. Planking is the simple act of lying down, rigidly (as if one were a plank of wood), in a setting or area that would be at least out of place and in some cases, simply outrageous.  (For example, here is a picture of Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner planking somewhere in his famed Playboy mansion.)

While the origins of planking are unknown, most believe it is a relatively recent phenomenon, with roots stemming back no earlier than the mid-1990s. But another Internet fad striking recently, horsemanning, stems back to the 1920s.  The goal: to make it look like you have been beheaded.

Horsemanning requires two people: one to play the head and the other to be the headless body.  The body situates him or herself in such a way (typically lying down) that his or her head is hidden, while the head does the opposite. The illusion of a beheaded body can sometimes be so striking as to be believable, except for the fact that we know better.  Take, for example, the below:

(Larger image here; via CBS News.)

The term “horsemanning” is a reference to the Headless Horseman, a character from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the short story written in 1820 by Washington Irving. But it took a century before horsemanning itself came to be.  The “official” horsemanning site (how one gets to be official in that regard, beyond owning the domain name, is anyone’s guess) claims that the first such picture appeared in 1920, nearly 100 years ago and 100 years after Irving published his widely known story.  That picture is below (larger image here).

For more, check out Oddee’s collection of a dozen weird horsemanning photos (with apologies for the redundancy), which includes the one allegedly from 1920.

Bonus fact: Two other odd photo-driven Internet fads?  Check out this photo gallery of “owling” – crouching like an owl in weird places (again via Oddee) and this one of “stocking” – mimicking poses and situations from stock photographs (via reddit).

RelatedThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving on Kindle — free. Can’t beat that.  But close? It’s also available as an audio book via Amazon.com”s Audible service, for $4.87, or for free with a free trial membership, here.

Originally published

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