1837, "act of bringing a horse or vehicle to a sudden stop," from the verbal phrase; see pull (v.) + up (adv.). To pull up is attested by early 14c. as "lift (someone or something)," late 14c. as "uproot." By 1887 as "a place for pulling up a vehicle." The noun, as a type of horizontal bar physical exercise involving pulling up the body by means of the arms, is attested by 1891.
The sense of "check a course of action" is from 1808, figurative of the lifting of the reins in horse-riding; pull (v.) in the sense of "check or hold back one's horse to keep it from winning" is by 1800.