The title phrase is one that I heard my mother, and probably my grandmother, use many times in my youth. It basically refers to having worked hard and being overly exhausted. They both grew up in south Georgia, so it may well be a regional thing.
Imagine, then, my reaction to this:
Two secretaries will share a settlement of around $450,000 from the Atlantic City, N.J. school district and its insurer after filing sexual-harassment charges. Carol Lee and Jennifer Torres sued following a comment Assistant Superintendent Thomas J. Kirschling made to them and two others in July 2002. At some point mid-month, Kirschling said “I ride them hard and put them away wet.”
The two secretaries sent him a memo saying they were outraged. He later explained and apologized, according to a subsequent memo.
Kirschling was apparently using a rural idiom that means someone is tired or worked hard. The phrase is taken from the need to cool down a horse after strenuous exercise. Only a mistreated horse is stabled while it is still sweating.
I guess nothing is safe from being turned into a sexual innuendo. Having posted this, I’ve probably made it impossible for my mom to ever again use this colloquialism (she does read my stuff here — sorry, Mom).
I will say I’m glad to finally understand the origins of the phrase.
Hat tip: David Bernstein over at The Volokh Conspiracy: