c. 1300, hoblen "to rock back and forth, toss up and down," probably from or cognate with dialectal German hoppeln, Dutch hobbelen "toss, ride on a hobby-horse; stutter, stammer" (which, however, is not recorded before late 15c.). Or perhaps a variant frequentative of hop (v.).
Meaning "to walk lamely" is from c. 1400. Transitive sense of "tie the legs (of an animal)" to impede or prevent free motion first recorded 1831, probably an alteration of 16c. hopple, cognate with Flemish hoppelen "to rock, jump," which also is related to Dutch hobbelen. Sense of "hamper, hinder" is c. 1870. Related: Hobbled; hobbling.