‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the yard,
Not a creature was stirring: they’d all worked too hard.
The stockings were hung in the tackroom with care
In hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The horses were nestled all snug in straw beds
While visions of sugar cubes danced in their heads.
And Patch in his blankets and I in my rug
Had just settled down, all cosy and snug,
When out on the yard there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my box to see what was the matter.
Away to the door I leapt with a jolt,
Tore open the top latch and drew back the bolt.
The moon on the snow lit all so bright –
Like daylight appeared the most magical sight.
My eyes wide in wonder as from over the way
Came eight tiny ponies hitched up to a sleigh,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
With the speed of a scurry team his ponies they came
And he whistled and clicked and called them by name:
“Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen;
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen!”
“To the top of the farm, to the cross-country course
Now dash away, dash away – away every horse”
And in every stable the horses awoke
Roused by St. Nick and the words that he spoke.
Pony and cob, warmblood, thoroughbred
Threw off their rugs and sprang from their bed.
They slipped back the bolts and crept from the barn
Following St. Nick to the top of the farm.
The stars and the moonlight lit up the snow
And the galloping hooves of the horses below.
The sleigh gave the lead round the cross country course
And whinnies of glee escaped every horse.
They flew the trakehners, leapt up huge banks,
For one night each year spared spurs, kicks and yanks.
Played follow-my-leader over ditches and water
Breath steaming in clouds, the air getting hotter.
Flurries of soft snow thrown up by hooves
Dusting fenceposts and trees, settling on roofs.
Over brush and hedge, down steps they raced
St. Nick in the lead, the horses giving chase.
Then one final gallop down the hill to the yard:
Breath coming fast, flanks heaving hard.
One by one the horses crept back to their beds,
Lay down in the straw, rested their heads;
Settled down to dream of the fun and the glee
Of the one night each year they raced and ran free.
The yard was now silent, the horses asleep,
But before he was gone I saw St. Nick creep
To every stable with a gift for each horse:
A haynet, a sugar cube, a carrot, of course.
He tucked them up snug, gave each one a pat.
Then bolted the door, dusted snow from his hat.
He mounted his sleigh, gave his ponies a whistle
And away they galloped, like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, before he drove out of sight:
“Happy Christmas all horses, to all horses a good night.”