Sullivan County Democrat
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Let's Talk Horses

By Judy O'Brien Van Put
Editor’s Note: Some of our sharp-eyed readers will surely note that this column is being reprinted from the Tuesday, December 25, 2001 issue of the Democrat. However, its meaning still rings true.
We wish all of our readers – horses and humans alike – a very Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2002 – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and out in the stable,
I hoped that the horses and chickens were able
To shake off the snow and try with all their might
To keep nice and warm on this cold winter’s night.

The bridles were hung in the tack room with care
In the hopes of a day we could ride that was fair.
The chickens were nestled up high on their perches
Of branches from hemlock and maples and birches.

My family was anxious to get right to sleep
With bright thoughts of Christmas and snow Oh So Deep!
We were cozy and snug from the warmth of the stove,
And all cares and concerns from our memories we drove.

When out on the lawn there arose a strange noise –
I knew that it couldn’t have been one of the boys
For they were asleep all snug in their beds,
With nary a worry to dance in their heads.

I thought I’d investigate, crept out of bed
Grabbed a coat and a scarf to cover my head.
I remembered the flashlight, ‘twas right by the door
And pulled on my barn boots from off of the floor.

I tried to be quick, got my gloves and a hat
And I jumped when I tripped over Friskie the cat
The hour was late and I shivered with fear,
When all of a sudden I saw a huge deer!

“The eight pointer” I exclaimed, as I focused the light
“that I saw before bow season” – no, that’s not right –
this deer was as perfect as perfect could be,
with antlers that branched like a sycamore tree.

Then all of a sudden I saw he was hitched
To seven more like him! Between and betwixt
Was a harness of leather with bells and with bows
And the one in the front seemed to have a red nose!

I saw a red sleigh and a driver so quick
that I couldn’t be sure it was Jolly Saint Nick!
Before I could speak, he had turned with a wink
And gathered his team up before I could think –
Is this just a vision? Or did I just hear
him calling to each of his flying reindeer?
He named them in order and gave the command
to “Fly out of sight!” with a wave of his hand!

I thought of the horses and whether they knew
Of the sights I had seen – and just what would they do?
Were they frightened? Or spooky? I needed to know
If they saw what had happened out here in the snow.

I opened the door and what greeted my eyes
Was a stable of horses looking very surprised!
They were fully awake, tho’ it was half-past four,
And they looked like they wanted to bolt out the door!

I spoke not a word, but went straight to the room
Where I kept all the apples, the pitchforks and broom,
“It’s a Christmas surprise” I explained to the crew
of surprised horses and chickens, “I haven’t a clue
as to how it all happened, but it’s all OK!”
and I offered them treats and a big flake of hay.

I closed the barn door, and I checked all about,
When I thought I could hear a faraway shout –
as I went in the house and I turned off the light,
“Happy Christmas to All,
and to All a Good Night!”

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