The present painting depicts one of several popular seventeenth century sports involving a man on horseback, with a companion riding sidesaddle behind him, trying to catch objects from a line. In 'Drawing the Eel' a couple on horseback try to yank a slippery Eel from a line suspended across a road from an angled pole and a village inn. Another example of Salomon van Ruysdael treating this subject can be seen in a signed and dated painting of the 1650s, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Inv. no. 71.75. Similar games include 'Riding at the Herring' and 'Riding at the Cat'. For a more detailed account of sporting games in seventeenth century Holland, see P.C. Sutton in the catalogue of the exhibition Masters of 17th-Century Dutch Landscape Painting, 1987, pp. 529-31.