Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the farm,
Only one horse was stirring, the brown one in the barn,
The only one to hang a stocking from his feed dish that night,
Hoping that Santa would come, and fill it just right.
The other horses were settled quietly in their stalls,
While their dreams were of horse treats, candy canes and riding halls,
And the cat in the hay barn and the dog on his mat,
Had just snuggled in for a long winter's nap.
When out in the dressage ring there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the arena I flew like a flash,
Pulling on my boots and jacket in my mad dash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to the dressage letters below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But eight little elves riding eight tiny reindeer.
A small round man, dressed in red and white, looked just like Santa,
And called out to the reindeer, as an instructor might.
His shiny black boots reached up to his knees,
His pants looked like breeches and even had a full leather seat!
"Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen, come Comet and Cupid,
more forward Donner and Blitzen,
Keep the voltes round, elves ride those reindeer through,"
It was Christmas Eve reindeer dressage,
Under the moonlight in the snow so blue.
And then, in a twinkling I heard my horse come out,
He gave me a look as if to say, "What's this all about?"
As I stood in the doorway and watched, my mouth agape,
Santa jumped on the horse and entered the gate.
He and the elves worked in teams,
four pairs of reindeer, evenly matched, working under the moonbeams.
Santa had paired with Rudolph, who was now leading the group,
He took them through maneuvers, making large loops.
Santa's eyes twinkled, his breath came out fast,
As he rode round the arena he started teaching my horse half-pass!
His droll little mouth suddenly called out instructions,
"Half-halt, stay together, don't forget to push them."
He kept a pipe clenched tight in his teeth,
And as he rode the smoke circled his head like a wreath.
Although he was broad of face and had a round little belly,
He rode like Reiner Klimke, gloved hands quiet and steady.
Despite his chubby, plump body, the jolly old elf,
Sat the trot well, letting the horse move all by himself.
And I gasped as I watched while he continued to school,
First piaffe, then passage, one-tempis, way too cool.
Then Santa stopped riding, suddenly moving to his sleigh,
The brown went to the barn, and the reindeer began to play.
The elves disappeared, the ride was now done,
The reindeer took off pulling the sleigh, still full of run.
I ran to the barn, saw my horse was all wet,
This was no dream; he really was in a sweat.
The note on the saddle pad explained it all, "You wished for an FEI horse, now he's all trained, have a ball,
Merry Christmas, peace be with you, and ride with good cheer,
Give the brown extra carrots, and have him ready next year!"
By Mary L. Brennan, DVM